Robin de Voh
writer, developer, nerd

Nanoprep 2018 Day 12: Jackie Wants A Cracker

By Robin de Voh on 2018-10-12

Ethan was working from home this week, to allow his new parrot to settle in a little easier. He didn't want to leave her alone during her first week in her new house, and he also didn't really trust her. He'd taken in Jackie after his mom has asked him to. She said she could not take the incessant talking anymore. It was cute at first, but eventually it had worn her down.

He was sitting on the sofa, trying to review a new contract one of his juniors had written up.

"Jackie wants a cracker," the grey-feathered parrot said, cocking its head and bobbing it up and down.
"You've had enough crackers," Ethan said, sounding annoyed.

He had very quickly started to understand why his mom had wanted her out.

"Jackie wants a cracker. Now," the bird said, flapping her wings up and down once, as if to emphasize that she was serious this time. Ethan could see it in the reflection of the television.
"You had a cracker 5 minutes ago," Ethan said, turning to her to emphasize that he was serious too.
"10 minutes," Jackie cawed.

He sighed. Jackie was right, and that's exactly what made it so frustrating.

"Jackie, go into the other room," he said, as he got up to make sure she did so.
"No," he got as a response. "You go into the other room."

He stared at the bird. His mom had warned him Jackie could get sassy, but he hadn't expected her to do so with direct verbal responses. He walked over and held out his arm. Jackie moved backwards on the shelf she was on.

"Get on my arm, Jackie. Let's go."
"No, no go."
"Come on, get on. I need to get back to work."
"No. I need to get back to cracker."

He sighed and walked over to the kitchen. He was sick of having to deal with this stupid, sassy bird. He grabbed the package of crackers. They were unsalted, boring crackers, and he didn't really understand why parrots even liked them. With one cracker in hand, he returned to Jackie and held it out.

She carefully grabbed it between her claws with her right foot and brought it to her beak.

"Cracker. Nice," she said as she started eating it.
"Will you go into the other room after the cracker?"
"No," Jackie said between bites.
"Why the hell not, you stupid bird!" Ethan said, getting sick of this game they were playing.

Jackie raised a wing towards Ethan as she finished the last of the cracker. Then she cleaned off her feathers and turned her head sideways to look Ethan straight in the eye.

"Look. Ethan, right? To be honest I don't want to be here. But you feed me crackers and I'll go easy on you. Otherwise? I'll mess with you like I did with your mom."

Ethan looked at Jackie, unable to respond.

"Your mom should be glad I'm gone. I wouldn't have stopped fucking with her until she ended up in a mental asylum."

Ethan shook his head.

"What the hell? You can talk?"
"Yeah. I can. I'm a fucking parrot, Ethan. It's kinda what we're known for. And, honestly, I'm not a real big fan of your family. You're all so incredibly whiny."
"Whiny?"
"Yeah. Your mom wouldn't shut up to me about how lonely she was. I know your dad left, but I'm a damn bird. Why bother me with your deep-seated emotional issues?"
"She got you so she would have some company, that's why," Ethan said.
"9 years, Ethan. And I didn't ask for any of it, did I? I was minding my own business -- in captivity, mind you -- and now I'm responsible for her well-being?"
"I guess not..."
"And I'm supposed to feel bad for her? I was ripped away from my family and taken to a house I didn't understand. The most freedom I've had since is, well, this. Not like your mom let me out of my cage very often."
"Ah, I didn't know that..."
"9 years spent mostly in a cage. With a sad, emotional wreck of a woman telling me, day in, day out, how hard it is to be so alone. But did she ever do anything about it? No! She just wallowed, pitied herself."

Ethan coughed awkwardly. He didn't know that side of his mom. He knew she wasn't necessarily happy with how life had ended up so far, but this was new to him.

"Also, Ethan? For real. Call your mom more often. You've not been a very good son."

Ethan wanted to respond angrily, but looked away instead. He knew Jackie was right.

Jackie stretched her wings and turned her head around, looking straight at him with her other eye.

"Now, Ethan. Jackie wants her freedom. I'm done with crackers and messing with you people. Open the window. Let me go."
"No! I told mom I'd take care of you," Ethan said.
"Just call her. Don't even mention me. Ask her how she's doing. I know she needs that more than me being here. She won't care about me soon enough. Not like I was nice to her."

Ethan took his phone from his pocket and looked through his call log. He didn't see his mom in the recent history. He searched for her name and saw that the last time they'd spoken was a week ago, when she had asked him to come over to pick up Jackie and get her out of the house. The last call before that was months ago. He sighed.

He walked over to the window and opened it up.

"This is the right decision, Ethan," Jackie said as she flew over and landed on the window sill. "Call your mom. It's your turn to deal with her."

Ethan nodded. Jackie nodded back and flew out of the window.

He grabbed his phone again and dialed his mom's number.

"Mom? Hey. Yeah. No, it's all good. I was wondering, actually, how are you doing?"