photo of a parrot

Sinking the Talon In by Nicole Homer

I really just need to relax. It’s been a long year—what with school and the job search and the recession. What I need is a day at the spa. I need a manicure, a pedicure, a massage. I need a hot massage—a hot stone massage with scented oil. But. There’s the problem of the macaw.

I had hoped to get money. Or at least the good china when Gram died, but I got her: Ethel, a 23-year-old macaw. Gram’s widow’s bid to fend off the lonely.

I want a massage, with vanilla oil, from a large muscular man trained in neuromuscular therapy whose English is poor. And whose hands are unexplainably strong. But, the bird.

I left it home once—it squawked for hours. It yelled out Henry Henry Henry over and over until the police came. They thought the lady screaming was being murdered by some Henry. But it was just the echo of a widow’s nightmare climbing out of that bird one decibel at a time.

I don’t leave it alone anymore. How could I?

Undressing in front of a thing with a claw and talons is more of an exercise in trust than lying naked in a room with a strange man with only a sheet and a code of ethics between you and tragedy. She is so quiet—just perched there, watching. Until the strong man touches my thigh: Henry she almost whispers.

Henry. When I turn over to look at it, the man’s hand still firm on my body, the beast sobs with my Gram’s voice.

Nicole Homer is a: Writer. Teacher. Nerd. Mother. Backyard deer watcher. Stovetop popcorn popper. Tiny house enthusiast. Treehugger. Gardener. Curmudgeon. Part Roseanne Conner, part Sarah Connor. Curator of an immaculate sock collection.

Lead image: “Doesn’t everyone on Flickr have a parrot shot?” (via Flickr user Vicki DeLoach)