Squawk

When she wakes up, he’s singing. She curls up, enjoying a cocoon of warmth, wonders if she’s ever heard him sing before.

Cuppa? he says, popping his head in the door.

Yes please! She slides up, trying to keep as much of her as possible undercover. Outside the window, the sky is solid blue, and a gang of birds lines the electric wires.

Here you go, milky tea, two bonus shortbreads.

She smiles up at him.  Thanks. Hey, did you sleep on your hair?

What?  He runs his hand through his curls, but they stay wildly upright.

You know Grandma always said to leave your hair on the bedpost overnight.

He snorts. Don’t think you remembered either – look at your hair when you get up. I’m off to cook breakfast.

She cups her hands around the green mug, blows rising steam. The shortbreads are homemade, she dunks one in her tea, listening to the singing and bacon-sizzling and plate-clattering from the kitchen. This virus lockdown does have some advantages.

She looks out the window again, the feathery line-up has expanded, the Magpies and Currawongs have been joined by four Lorikeets and a couple of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos. She finds herself humming quietly, and when the Cocky on the right ruffles his feathers and screeches, she screeches back.

You alright in there?

Yep, just talking to the birds.

He laughs, but when she looks up, the birds are watching her.

She slides out of bed, keeps her eyes on them, walks to the bathroom in her fuzzy slippers. Splashes water on her face, meets her eyes in the mirror. He’s right, her hair is wild. She brushes it down, but it springs back at once. Must be static she thinks, maybe a storm coming.

On the way to the kitchen, she sees more birds on the side fence. She frowns as there is a thump on the skylight in the hall, she can see claws skittering against the opaque window, a layer of feathers like stained glass.

Kookaburras are laughing overhead, and swirls of Corellas are swooping through the garden, their blue-ringed eyes bright against white feathers.

He stands at the stove, his back to her when she comes into the kitchen.

Hey, have you seen the birds? Bit creepy…

He turns towards her, his eyes round and glittering.

I saw them, he says.

Her heart starts to beat faster, she can feel it pulsing in her throat. What’s wrong with your eyes?

He squawks, walks fast towards her, toenails scritching against the floorboards. Nothing…. he says, hair bristling, three green feathers twined through his curls.

He flings open the back door. Clouds of wild screeches and two Brush Turkeys fly in.

She looks up at him, sees herself mirrored in his eyes. Smiles, gives a Squawk.

He grabs her in his arms then, singing, and whirls her out across the step into a tornado of feathers.

Laughing, they twirl down the street, whirling together, surrounded  by birdsong.

©️Danielle Baldock, 2020.

Danielle Baldock’s atmospheric writings capture small and vivid moments of time. She has been published in Spineless Wonders’ Landmarks, Shuffle and Scars anthologies, lives in Sydney and takes lots of photos. Her favourite colour is green. She speaks semi-fluent Cockatoo. 

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