Like clockwork, her canary began to sing before the cuckoo clock in the living room struck six in the morning.  Its pretty yellow head was bursting with melody.  Off key melody, granted, but melody.  Lying half covered with silky sheets alone in her queen-sized bed, Jylouna wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  The Birdman had warned her of the canary’s enthusiasm before she purchased him.  At the time, she thought it was exaggeration.  After all, a girl could only believe half of what a man who thought he could talk to birds told her.  So she took his warning with a grain of salt and pressed two shining gold coins into his dirty, dry hand, and lifted the white wire cage with the chittering canary with her free hand.  Moments like these were when she reprimanded herself for not getting another turtle.

Jylouna rolled over on to her stomach and slammed a fluffy pillow over her head.  Pipsqueak the canary kept singing, and the only thing Jylouna could imagine behind her dark eyelids was a chorus of Pipsqueaks all over the city singing their little golden hearts out.  Half of her wondered how many of the little feathered pests lasted the five minutes between their owners waking and their owners retrieving their caffeine shots.  The other half of her wondered if it was illegal to go commit “canaricide”- the homicide of bright, cheerful, morning-alert canary birds.

She kicked her feet under the white silky sheets and they slid helplessly around the bed.  She felt a little like a child throwing a temper tantrum, but there was nobody to see, so she didn’t care much.  Her feet fell back down on the mattress and throwing the goose-down pillows off her head, she mumbled into the darkness between her face and her mattress, “Fine, fine.  I’m getting up.”

For another moment, she pulled her dark blue comforter up over her head.  From the other room, almost as though on cue, Pipsqueak enthusiastically offered a high-pitched tweet in response to Jylouna’s somewhat false announcement.  She groaned and slowly raised her head and opened her green eyes one at a time.

“I hope you’re not expecting a berry,” she muttered and swung her short, stocky legs over the bedframe.  They felt like metal poles, and even as her tip toes touched the floor, she felt pain flare into her muscles and leak into the welts and bruises along her legs.  Jylouna took a moment to thank her pantheon of gods and goddesses in the back of her mind that she had the day off after her first advanced combat lesson.  Never was there a better time for a holiday.  She rubbed the sleepies out of her eyes and stood, wrapping a silky green robe around her body.

Despite her aches and pains, she threw open the heavy velvet curtains around her apartment before she did anything else.  Pink streaks of sunrise tumbled on to her fluffy white rugs and tickled as far as her polished wooden kitchen floor.  Pipsqueak’s toenails click-clacked against the metal bars of his cage.  Jylouna brushed her fingers through her nest of bedhair and yanked her long, delicate fingers through nasty snarls.  She stared out the window and down on to the sleeping city below.  From the twelfth floor, she felt like she could see the entire world… or would be able to, at least, if there wasn’t a political office complex barring her view of the horizon.  She sighed and inhaled the sharp tickle of mint- someone in the building was making peppermint tea.

Pipsqueak tapped his beak on his cage repetitively and Jylouna pulled the black sheet from it.  The small yellow bird climbed on one of his wooden bars and looked up at her appreciatively.  Jylouna continued running her fingers through her snarled hair and shook her head.  How was it that a bird could be so frustrating, yet so adorable at the same time?  She rolled her eyes and began to move away from the cage when the sharp tapping resumed. She glanced back over her shoulder to see two black beady eyes begging her.

“Oh, alright,” Jylouna sighed.  She turned around and returned to the cage, squatting down so she could reach into the red cloth bag next to the oak table the cage stood on.  She wrapped her fingers around a handful of tiny little seeds, almost small enough to be sand.  As she retracted her arm from the bag, the colorful seeds clung to her hand like sequins and glitter.  With her free hand, she unlocked his half-empty food dish from its slot in the metal cage and emptied the seed into it.  Pipsqueak chirped excitedly and climbed back on to his wooden stick from where he hand climbed while he watched her actions.  He bobbed his soft feathered head.  Jylouna looked at her silly bird and suppressed a laugh.

She locked his food dish back into his cage and smiled down at the bird, who was now paying her no mind.  He rushed to his dish and instantly buried his head in the assortment of new seeds, weeding through the different colors and shapes to find his favorites.  She disappeared into the kitchen and returned a moment later with a small red berry grasped between her thumb and her forefinger.  Pipsqueak picked up his head and the sound of her returning footsteps and bobbed his head again when he saw the treasure she carried.  Jylouna offered the berry through the wires of his cage, and Pipsqueak eagerly accepted it, pulling it from her fingertips with his beak.  He made a few clucking noises in thanks and Jylouna beamed.

“Just this once,” she promised, knowing it was a lie.  She moved over to her plush leather couch and sunk into it, pulling her robe tighter around her body.  The sunrise dripped through her open window and she watched it in wonder.  What a beautiful morning.

.

Word: Canary.  ||  Time: 15 minutes.  ||  Character: Jylouna Martin.

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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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