Ordinarily, Claire loved the sound of birdsong. There was something soothing about it.
But it felt like the sparrow in front of her had somehow mastered sarcasm. It sat on the headboard of Claire’s bed, chirping away in a manner that seemed to be strangely irate with being stuck in her room.
It had been a long, rough day at work. The sort of day that makes you want to come home, flop on the sofa, put something violent on TV and switch off your brain until silly o’clock tomorrow morning when it was time to do it all again.
It was not the sort of day for coming home and trying to usher trapped sparrows out of your bedroom.
Claire sighed and put her bag down. She lingered in the doorway as she tried to weigh up her options.
She looked at the sparrow. The sparrow looked at her.
“Easy for you to say…” mumbled Claire. She didn’t know why.
She could try and catch it, carefully cradling it in her hands until she could get it outside. She dismissed the idea when she had a vision of accidentally crushing it.
She knew that sometimes you could calm them when they were in a cage by putting a towel or something over them. She thought about putting a towel over him. But he didn’t have a cage, so she dismissed the idea when she had a vision of accidentally crushing the little bird again.
Sensing a theme developing, she stayed in the doorway.
She could at least open the window.
She moved around the side of the room while the bird merrily chatted away to her. He seemed less annoyed now. Perhaps he had realised that she was trying to help. Perhaps that was just in her head.
She unlocked the window and eased it open, careful not to make a noise that might startle him.
She stood to one side and nodded towards it. “Well, go on then.”
The bird looked at her, then the open window. Then back to her. He said something – she missed what – and he flitted over to the window sill to take a look at the world beyond.
Then he hopped down to the floor and darted under the bed.
Claire rolled her eyes. Birds didn’t do that. Spiders did that.
Maybe she could keep him as a pet.
No. The landlady would never allow it. Besides, how could Claire explain it?
It was better if he went out. Perhaps he just needed persuading.
She nipped downstairs and grabbed some bread. She tore it up into small pieces and, quickly as she could, popped it in a little bowl. She spotted some bird poo on the worktop as she did; she must have walked right past it on her way in. Someone had clearly been exploring during the day and making himself at home.
As she climbed the stairs, she didn’t worry about losing track of where the bird was – he was still chirping away. Part of her wondered if he might have taken the opportunity to nip out while she wasn’t around, but it seemed as though he wanted to say goodbye.
She peeped under the bed and saw him sat there between a pair of boxes.
She made a little pile of breadcrumbs next to the bed, and another on the window sill.
It didn’t take the bird long to work out what was going on. He sat on the
He was soon sat on the window sill and pecking away at the breadcrumbs. For a second, Claire thought about just shoving him out the window. But he seemed happy to have made a friend. He was still chatting to her; maybe he was saying how he’d tell his friends about this friendly person he met. Maybe didn’t have friends. Maybe he was lonely and just wanted to chat to someone.
Realising that she was dangerously close to inventing an entire backstory for the bird, Claire just patiently waited for him to have his fill. She stopped herself from nodding at what he was saying and responding with the sorts of small talk responses you’d usually find in idle chit-chat.
Finally, he turned to her, let out a final flurry of tweeps and chirps, and left.
She dived across the room and slammed the window shut. She could still hear birdsong, but it was more distant now. Muffled. She sighed.
At least he was smart enough not to fly into the glass.
Something occurred to Claire. He was smart… She checked all the doors and windows. The house had been locked up tight during the day.
How had he got in?
She looked out the window and saw the sparrow sat on a nearby branch. He was still chattering away, convinced his new friend could still hear him.