The cage was self-imposed, after all, at any moment any one could just fly away; it wasn’t that difficult beyond their own ideological boundaries.
Culo was displaying again in the cage, his ego fawning, jumping to the top rung of the cage, wings almost full spread in their little space, and even gave a squawk. Was it because she had committed Sin Number 1 and ducked her head under wing in a stance of humility and perhaps a little vulnerability? She well knew NEVER ever to show vulnerability, that was rule #1 for survival in the cage. Any movement, any signal was the open door to his fawning, even his rage and she feared that lack of equilibrium almost as much as he did. If he squawked, she must just let him squawk patiently without being personally affected. Maintain the control, the balance of power or she would repent for the rest of their existence together.
He was fawning over his big first day back to giving classes at a local private university where men must wear suits and ties every day, he was having a blast in the kitchen, pots and pans clanging and clacking, a multi-course breakfast. If he had been Ridi he would have been singing, too, but at this moment he just had a slight curl at his beak and his tail feather at half mast. Ridi noticed the physical symbols first, subconsciously of course, and responded likewise, chirping and singing and even untrepidatingly came up close to him, touching him while in his space and he responded likewise, his back and limbs soft and forgiving, his head slightly bowed towards hers. “A breakfast for champions.”
He reached into the refrigerator and took the 2/3 full liter-sized container of the black beans she cooked up 2 days previous with jalapeno peppers and garlic cloves that she was planning on using with the shrimp she bought yesterday in an unprecedented splurge to eat something more interesting than the sunflower-less bird seed typically imposed into their cage. He dumped the entire contents into the vegetable oil-lined wok and Ridi screeched and he squawked right over her in reply “it’s Gallo Pinto, the same thing you ate before.” He could have left a few beans…
“Yes, and I noticed the other day the bad taste of that oil.”
“I’m not going to change the way I cook just for you,” he bellered.
“I would NEVER ask you to do that.” Nor would she ever expect it. And that was the beauty of the relationship as far as she was concerned. No expectations. None. That was 90% beautiful and 90% true. She enjoyed and needed her idiological space, especially in light of the lack of the physical.
She turned to stalk away to stew in her frustration when he stopped her with “fine, go to your room and cry” IS THAT WHAT HE THOUGHT??!! She stood fixed and stared at him in disbelief. Disbelief at the gall he had to insinuate such strong reactions, disbelief at the quickness into which he fell from the top rung to the litter-lined floor, sweat and ire spewing from his pores. His feet seemed nailed into the floor and she remembered Duane the Tub I’m Dwounding, equally rigid and unswerving.
For lack of a better response, she ducked her head slightly in like a bull, pushing herself into the almost nonexistent space they called the kitchen and proceeded to scrub a potato. She was absolutely starving and didn’t know why since they had had an equally large and late dinner the night before. Usually in those cases she woke up still feeling quite full. He had already fried some plantain using that same awful oil, but her stomach really didn’t care. “You could have used my coconut oil for that.”
“Too late. Are you going to be picky?”
“Ha, no, I’m starving.” So hungry she wanted to cry. In one swift second she had lost any control about what she was about to put in her body at the start of the day, the time of day when what you put in has the most influence of how your entire day will go, which may, in some indirect play of fate, somehow predict and shape the rest of her life (after all, every day is the first day of the rest of your life). She swallowed a fried plantain almost whole as she respectfully cleared the table of the computer he always insisted didn’t belong, as well as its accoutrements.
They sat down at the table shortly, with his laptop appearing out of nowhere, he watching some comedian on Youtube which she didn’t even try to pay attention to. Instead she looked over at the birds, the bigger one jutting his chest out on the top rung as the other pranced back and forth on the middle bar. Ugh. Are we the chickens or the eggs in our symbiotic relationship?
The next day Culo made lunch; another gigantic 5-parts on the plate meal, but used the olive oil instead this time, and made it for the both of them to eat. Maybe he felt bad about yesterday? But he still wasn’t talking to her. She felt he had a need for her, especially when he told her he got bored when she left the cage for weekend trips, but of course that’s when he would least want her in his immediate circle of physical space.