All of them were beautiful. All of them had, in their own way, one feature or another that contributed to a general feeling of content and well-being that she felt whenever she entered the shop. Today was Monday, her favorite day of the week. It was by far the best day because the shop was closed on Sundays. This meant that she had to leave late on Saturday nights knowing that they would be alone for an entire day, until she would return early on Monday mornings to open the shop again.
Her favorite out of all of them, if she had to choose one, was the parrot, Captain Yellow Beard. His blue coat and yellow front made her think that he was always ready to fly out on an adventure that somehow involved a crazy-fancy party. He definitely had the vocabulary to go with that, too: Me Lady. Good Sir. The politest parrot she’d ever had at the store. She wasn’t exactly supposed to give the animals at the store names. Giving them names meant that you were getting attached. Getting attached meant that you wanted to keep them around. Wanting to keep them around meant that you were not making an effort to get them sold. And that was “bad for business,” as her manager had reminded her when he had found her talking to the kangaroo rats one rainy Tuesday afternoon. They’d just looked so miserable in their tiny terrarium, starring at the rain drops running down the shop’s display window right in front of them.
So she had told them the story of the brave little kangaroo rat who had tried to cross the Mojave Desert on her own to prove to her fellow kangaroo rats that, despite being the runt of the litter, she could do it. About two thirds into her adventure, after having dodged snakes and spiders, after having withstood full-blown sand storms, surviving all the bitter-cold nights, the little kangaroo rat found herself longing for someone to walk the rest of her journey with her.
On one night that she felt especially low-spirited, concealed by a large formation of rocks, she saw the top of a chapel‘s peak. When the little kangaroo rat went inside, she found that she was not the first to seek refuge in the impossible chapel. Another kangaroo rat, no bigger than her, but with lighter fur, sat in the front row of the chapel, as if in prayer. They began to chat, and it soon transpired that her new friend was attempting to prove, just like her, that no matter the size, any kangaroo rat with enough determination could cross the Mojave Desert on their own. And so it seemed like finally the little kangaroo rat had found a companion for the rest of her journey! Because just as her, this other kangaroo rat had wished for someone to accompany them on their long journey.
Dawn was approaching and the two little kangaroo rats had all but decided to continue their adventure together. When it came to leaving the chapel, though, they found themselves walking into opposite directions. “This is where I need to go,” said the little kangaroo rat, pointing one way. “And this is where I need to go,” said the other kangaroo rat, pointing another way. In all their conversations, it had never occurred to her to mention her destination. She had just assumed that they were headed the same way.
Neither of them could give up now, and turn the other way, not when they were both so close. So they said their good-byes and went their respective ways. The little kangaroo rat had expected to feel the weight of solitude even heavier than before, now that she knew what it was like not to be alone. But with surprising ease she finished the last third of her journey, the knowledge that somewhere, another little kangaroo rat was doing exactly the same thing, a comfort beyond any.
She could have sworn they looked more at ease in their terrarium when she had finished the story of the brave little kangaroo rat. She supposed that was the least she could do for them at the shop… The bell of the door rang and a man and his daughter walked in.
“Good afternoon! How can I help you?”
“Hi! We are looking for a pet bird for my daughter. Do you have any suggestions for us?”
“Well, that depends,” she began as she led them over to the bird section of the shop, “on how much time and space you can afford to invest into your new companion.”
“Daddy! Daddy! I want this one!”
The little girl was pointing at Captain Yellow Beard, a look of glee and admiration on her face. Her heart sank a little. Still, she crouched down, bringing herself level with the little girl, and smiled.
“This is a so called Anodorhynchus, but I call him Captain Yellow Beard because of his beautiful feathers. They are very smart creatures and need a lot of attention and love.”
“Don’t worry,” the dad said from behind them, “our agreement is that we take care of the bird together.”
“All right,” she said and went to collect the appropriate care brochures and supplies, “take good care of him then.”
The door closed behind the dad and his daughter and Captain Yellow Beard, and she went to sit down next to the kangaroo rats again.
Context for this piece: Each day of this new year I will be setting aside about an hour to write a short text, any kind of text. I will use four random prompts generated by an app called Writing Challenge, with five minutes of writing dedicated to each prompt, bringing it up to a total of at least 20 minutes of writing for each text.
The prompts are marked in bold letters and a full list can be found here:
- Include a parrot in the plot
- Write a scene that takes place in a chapel
- Include the word “dawn”
- Begin the last sentence with “The door closed behind him”