VIII | Different

‘Who’s Rowan?’ Nora asks.

I try to catch the parrot again.
‘Shut up, shut up, shut up!’ it screams in Brient’s voice.
The bird claws at my hand,

lands on Nora’s head.

appear on the side of my thumb.

They turn red.

‘Are you okay?’

Nora unwraps herself from the blanket.
Hands me my pants.

‘Stupid bird,’ the parrot says.

She picks up her underwear.

‘The toilet’s down the hallway,’
it tells her.

She ignores it and puts her arms around me.

The bird flies to the window,
giving me one more look

and vanishes.

I push her away,
the scratches keep bleeding.

‘Wear your clothes,
‘My parents are coming home soon.’

My voice is hoarse.

She hands me a plaster.
I hand her a shirt.

She reaches out for it

and I realise
it’s my shirt.

I pull it back.

‘Sorry,’ I say.

Nora cleans my wound with a wet tissue,
takes the plaster from me
and sticks it over the scratches.

She takes the shirt in my hand.

‘This much is enough,’
she says.

A bright smile on her face.

But there’s a flood in her eyes.

She turns away when i try
to speak.


There’s nothing for me to say.

It’s not my business.


I sigh.

Watch her wear her crumpled uniform.
She takes her bag, smiles at me.

‘See you tomorrow, Clyde.’

I follow her to the front door,
to the lift.
We wait in silence.
Finally, the doors open.
She steps in.

A small wave.

The doors close.




‘My childhood friend ran away from home.’

I’m close to Nora again.
I smell myself on her.

There’s blood seeping from beneath the plaster.

From stopping the lift doors.

She looks up at me.
Chocolate eyes shiny.

‘Thank you for—’
I start to say.

But she pushes me back

out of the way.


‘My parents were fighting. And I took your shirt. I needed you too.’

The doors close.
She descends.

I’m left staring

at my own reflection.




I look around my room
at the stuff Nora looked through.

I don’t
feel like doing homework.

I go to the kitchen

to get a drink.

I lift the cup to my lips.


And I see the white parrot again.

on the back of a dining chair,
watching me.

‘Damn bird. Get lost!’

The bird tilts
its head.

‘Why are you still unhappy, Clyde?’


I glare at it.

It’s not repeating my thoughts

‘You’re not thinking anything anymore,’ the parrot says.

I think about catching it.
I think about skinning it.
I think about frying it, burning it,
throwing it out the window.

‘I’m thinking. I’m thinking very hard.
‘Why? Nothing to say?’

The parrot just stares at me.

‘What? Forgot how to speak?’

The parrot picks at its feathers.

I just

And I think of Brient.

I don’t know


          to do

          with myself.




There’s a metallic sound
at the front door.

The parrot
plucks out a feather

and lays it

on the table

in front of me.

‘You saw what’s on the other side
‘of the rowan tree.

‘This will protect you.

‘Keep this feather close by,
‘Nya-Nya will help you.

‘This is Rowan Lee—you owe me for the kiss.’

rises in my chest.

‘Go stuff the feather up your own ass!
‘Tell Rowan
‘to go #*%& herself.’

The parrot spreads its wings.

‘Why are you still unhappy, Clyde?’

Then it’s gone.


The door to the master bedroom slams shut.

I laugh to myself.
What was I expecting?

That they’ll care

a bird’s talking to me?


I finish my cup of water
and slam my door loudly too.

This is how

I acknowledge

of their presence

in this house.


When did this become normal?


‘Why are you still unhappy, Clyde?’

The parrot’s not here
but these words repeat

in Brient’s voice.


‘Because you’re different now.’




error: Content is protected!!