The Cage

Ridi was flying around the beautiful, lush foliage.  Perfectly trimmed and coifed, she was coddled and cared for, but her flying was not just aimless, it was dangerous.  She kept bumping into things, scathing her wings and plumage against the cold, the sharp, the prickly, looking enemies in their mouths, and sleeping in dark, wet marshlands and sometimes in places she couldn’t even try to describe.  

On this beautiful sunny summer day she was in her usual tizzy, flitting from branch to branch, trying to stay aloft when she landed in a cold, unfamiliar bed of what felt like metal and straw.  It smelled stale and synthetic, yet with a sense of odd familiarity.  It was not completely uncomfortable, but it wasn’t the familiar moist green she was used to.  There was a small click and it was then she realized she was not alone.  There was another of her and as she looked at him she realized he wasn’t her; there was no mirror nor its image, but he had a familiar smell and his plumage was similarly colored and he had the same perceptive and astute look in his eye that she knew they were of the same species and recognized him as her peer.

He blinked in response, with a small upturn on his beak and showed her around the space.  Small, sparse but somehow homey—perhaps it was those scents, or maybe something more primal—pheral?, like pheromones.  Or could it be the smell of depression or desperation or something related that they both had in common?

He was bald and thick, not handsome but not ugly.  Really, he blended in with other beings as well as his surroundings; not showy, at least not in a visceral way.  He moved in a way that allowed space for her to follow him on her own terms until he led her to sit on the brick-colored sofa that almost clashed with the cedar-tinted “hardwood” floor. (All this naturalness and nothing natural about any of it.)

They carried on in a careful and spirit-free chatter, chirping back and forth, fanning just enough to prove their positions in the room and in the jungle.  She with her damaged and bandaged front from her most recent klutzy episode, had suddenly forgot herself as he managed to go deep into their thoughts, the chatter turning into a higher-pitched chirp almost ringing out in harmonious brilliance until an hour passed and it was time to go.Image

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