Behind Bars of Gray & other stories

The first chapter is a short-story about a lonely, narcissistic and derisive female in bleak captivity, who finds another of her kind. This sets into motion a relationship of unrequited love that somehow manages to find a happy ending. Beware of plot twist. Hopefully others will add similar short stories that fit the outlined parameters of a different kind of love.

Foreword: I wrote this in February of 2007, and it was my second piece of creative writing that I'd written in a long, long time. I wrote it for a Grade 12 high school course that I dropped out of before I could hand it in. The assignment was to write a short-story about 'a different kind of love', 500-1000 words, non-fiction. The assigned theme was chosen because it was Valentine's Day. By 'a different kind of love', the teacher was demanding that it be far out of the ordinary, atypical, out-there, maybe even in-your-face. Not just any typical, romantic love story would do. So, feel free to write follow-up chapters that fit those parameters, keeping it PG13 or tamer.

 

Behind Bars of Gray

She was alone. White painted bars surrounded her. Food came and went, as did water. When her supplies were low, they were replenished, yet with only enough sustenance to keep her alive. That’s all she was, alive in a cage. Rarely, she was given toys or special food she actually cared to eat or play with.

One by one, odd toys got added to her environment as if she was a primitive being. And she was. Mirrors, bells, and colorful objects began to clutter her cage. It was as if the confined habitat was the playground of a twisted psychologist. Yet, she was still alone, alone in a cage. All she had was her reflection in the mirrors. She’d talk to it, even fight or flirt with it; and after a while, her captors removed the mirrors.

They towered above the cage; giant, willowy creatures of another race. They were many times her height. When they took her out of her confinement, she hit them in desperation. Her nails were sharp, and her mouth was a weapon. But they did nothing to hurt her. They never did. When she was out of the cage, she’d head away from them, towards the nearest reflective surface. But they’d always find her. Always. When she did manage to find a reflection of herself soon enough, she’d dance around in the comfort of its presence. It was self-love, narcissism, yet it got her through the hardship.

The snow came many times, but she never learned how cold it would be if she escaped from the facility in which her cage was set up. She didn’t know what snow was. She looked through glass windows at the world outside, and sometimes even bumped into their transparent surface, in hopes of escaping. In hopes of no longer being alone, alone in a cage. But all she got from that was a headache.

There was something special about one winter’s first snowfall. It came late in the season, following the arrival of something new. One evening, before that snowfall, she was pulled out of her cage and thrust into a new one, with gray bars instead of white. It had translucent plastic panels, too strong for her to break. However, it offered a comfortingly unobstructed view. And most of all, it was larger.

Why? she wondered, and her query was followed by the arrival of another just like her. He was paler, and young. That explained it; a bigger cage, a cage for two. But this newcomer was so off-color, in comparison. Is he really the same as me? I can't take my chances. We must survive together. Even though he was too young to be her mate, she immediately displayed herself eloquently. She would come to regret that, for a time.

Within a month, he was trying to get close with her, and it clearly wasn’t platonic. It was a typical case of unrequited love. He made approaches, within the confines of the large cage, and she would run off to the other end. He would be busy making flirtatious gesture before even noticing that she had left. Young, and ignorant, he was never aware that his affections were unwanted. When he got too close, she would hit him. But he never got the message. She was alone, still, not physically but mentally. Alone in a cage.

Winter went on, and February came. It was Valentine’s Day, and it had snowed so much that school had been cancelled. A high school student lay half-awake, having slept in. He groggily eyed the cage across from the foot of his bed. His eyes caught the form of a small white bird, a fancy budgerigar selectively bred to have pale pigment. Even the gender markers on his beak were too pale to even tell that he was a male. The bird had been given to the young man as a Christmas present, as a companion to his disgruntled and aged female bird. If it weren’t for their behavior, he wouldn’t know their sex. The new male was white and blue; and named Niveus, Latin for ‘snow’ and ‘white’. The other bird had been named Siren, her mean-tempered personality capturing that of the bird-like creatures from Greek mythology.

Tying his blond hair into a ponytail, the adolescent remembered the egg Siren had laid months before Niveus arrived. She had been chirping romantic duets with the birds outside his bedroom window that previous spring.

He watched as Niveus made another of his conspicuous approaches onto the plastic perch beside her. As usual, she responded with an angry scolding, and pecks aimed at his face and upper chest. However, after a bit of sparing, a peculiar thing occurred. It had happened only once before, but the man had not been sure of what he had seen. They smooched. There was no other word for it, but smooched. She was upside-down, hanging off the bars beside the perch he had invaded. Their quarrel had ended, and their tongues were flicking together in an odd mating gesture.

The young man, Aaron, found himself at a loss for words as he watched the parakeets. Afterall, it was Valentine’s Day. After a brief moment, he smiled and said, “You two are crazy…”

 

 

The End

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