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Feathered Friends

Sometimes rivals can be dealt with from the inside.

"....well my chaffinch has been looking rather off-colour lately, I'm sure it's caught a bug. The other day I saw a fly buzzing near the cage, and you know how many diseases they have".

"Millions. Well, a lot. I'd get it checked. Take it the vet soon as you can".

"Yes, I think I will".

I listen with interest to the bird-fanciers around the tables that have been pushed together in a large rectangle, and can’t help but hate everything they say, and listen with revulsion. Why? Because they shouldn’t be here. I am sat as a guest, not a member of ‘Feathered friends’, a group of like-minded individuals who meet every week to discuss all things avian, each of them owning, and having heavy involvement with birds. Mr. Kent here, owns two rare, African-grey parrots. Mrs. Megan owns 24 budgerigars and 16 canaries. The despicable Mr. Edgar owns racing pidgeons and has a large aviary with cockatiels and goldfinches.

As for me, Sheila Mirabelle, a 64-year-old widow, I own nothing now. You see, this morning, I let all my birds go. I let them fly out into this cruel city, into its dangers, its choking smog, where cats prowl and nesting sites are rare. I love birds. Always have. It’s why I started the ‘The bird appreciation club’ at a local school, which would open for night classes, and we would meet in the geography classroom. It was great. For two years we got ourselves up to twelve members, until Mr. Edgar over there came and changed everything. See, he was a member for a few months until he told me he’d let two of his goldfinches go. Just let them fly out into this cruel city.

Yes, I understand that it’s hypercritical of me, but under the circumstances, it was the best thing I could do. He said they were sick, and would have died soon anyway, had a virus that he didn’t want to spread to his other birds, but I said take them to the vet, they can cure it. He said they wouldn’t have been able to do anything, and would probably have put them down. I said they could have cured them and could have gone back in their cage. Basically, we argued, and he left, and set up ‘Feathered friends’ a rival group to my own which is now basically defunct. He has 26 members, and I have none anymore. They all went to Edgar, who met at the same time as I did.

I’m sure he did it on purpose. They meet in a ground floor room in a local college, and have been doing so for three months. ‘The bird appreciation club’ has been decimated because of him. I suppose in part it is jealousy, and in coming here it’s like admitting defeat. Yet, I’m not admitting defeat. Although when I came, I saw a wry smile on Edgar’s face, a cruel smile, a smugness which said far more than words could.

"Come to join us then," he had said, and I caught the inflection in his voice that said, ‘It was only a matter of time’.

"Just curious," I had said, and had sat with the others, feeling disgusted as I did. Feeling a burning hatred because they should not be here, they should all be at the school, in my club. They destroyed it, they took it away from me, and I hate them, I despise each and every one of them.

Soon, one of them will ask me about how my birds are, oh… Hold on, a few faces have turned to me.

"Sheila, nice to see you joining us. How have your birds been?" I barely hear the words, and stand up, surveying their vile faces, and looking at them all with revulsion.

"You should not be here," I scream. "You should all be at my club, but you stole it from me. I hate you all." I then pull a trigger that I had been clasping in the pocket of my coat. None of them questioned why I was still wearing it, but then it was quite chilly outside.

Lately, I’ve been trawling the internet and was surprised to find that the claims that you can find virtually anything are true, including how to make a suicide bomb. It works, it really works, and now I find out whether I, or we, will get wings and fly into the afterlife. Maybe I’ll find out what it’s like to be a bird.



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