New flash fiction: Bec Zugor in in the flying room

Flying Room

 
Eighteen budgies – one for each of my years, and all named after their colours – live in The Cage That Dad Built. It’s not your average two-perches-up-two-down affair; it's better, all wood and chicken wire and proper branches. And space. Real flying room.
 
I remember when he summoned me to inspect his work. “It’ll be the best damn aviary in the county, lass. You’ll see.” And he’d stood back with arms folded and a smug grin, like he was posing for the cover of Cage Builder Monthly. I was interested in ornithology back then; I had binoculars and books. That’s what had given him the idea. I walked away without a word, and I knew it was wrong of me, but I couldn’t do anything about it.
 
Now, nine years later, I’m standing outside, breathing in the delicious pet shop smell of the millet and peering in. If Dad hadn't sold some of the birds, we'd have been over-run by now. Limey and Buttercup doze near the nesting boxes. Alien (the grey budgie) tries to hop on top of Phantom (the albino). Phantom's having none of it and flutters over to the seed bin, so Alien chases Comet instead.
 
Custard's beak goes 'scritch-scritch' on the cuttlefish bone. I poke a finger through the wire. She clambers on, her claws feeling like a half soft, half scratchy ring. She’s my favourite. She was born after Dad died, but he’d have liked her, I know.
 
A flurry of feathers. Squawks. Sky scraps with River on the woodchip floor, setting the others off. Flapping wings scatter fine debris, down and seed husks, making the air smell dusty. Fever pitch. Now the screeching could reach the goes-right-through-you level on a chirpometer. Custard joins the melee and I cover my ears.
    
Their colours look pretty in the dappled sunlight. That's why Dad built the aviary near the apple tree. In the space I'd long ago earmarked for a swing.

I wonder if the birds will miss me when I’m away at Uni? Probably not,
but I like to think they will. “You’ll be spreading your own wings,” Mum
keeps saying, but her smile doesn’t reach her eyes.


 

* Bec Zugor's fiction has appeared in ezines and magazines including Microhorror, Weirdyear and Escape Velocity. Find out more at www.beczugor.com

4 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Awesome, Bec! Beautiful and tragic!

  2. Anonymous

    What a sad, beautiful piece.

  3. You beat me to it. My dad bult an aviary when I was a teen, and I've yearned to write a tale about the birds and their prison ever since. Your's is better than the one in my head. Well done!

  4. Thank you all for the comments. Glad you liked the piece!

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