You wake up to find a strange young woman in bright clothes eating breakfast in your kitchen. Perhaps not coincidentally, your pet parrot is nowhere to be seen…
Growling, I slapped at the snooze button on my beside clock for a third time. I missed the clock, hitting the half empty cup of water on my bedside table. It fell over, water spreading across the nightstand and then down onto the floor. I continued to lay in bed for another minute, listening to the blaring of my alarm compete with the dripping water for attention. Sighing, I rolled to the edge of my bed and swung my legs over, sitting up.
My feet hit the soggy carpet and I grimaced. Reaching to the clock, I disabled the alarm and then glanced around my room. I was behind on laundry, delinquent socks and crumpled pants were carelessly arranged throughout the space. I reached down to the footboard and grabbed a shirt that was hanging over one corner. Slipping it on, I stood up and stretched, realizing my shirt was on inside out. Groaning aloud, I trudged towards the bedroom door, eager to change the direction of my morning.
A sizzling sound met my ears as I pushed the door open. I could smell eggs cooking, and something sweet, perhaps pancakes, and oddly enough, chicken. Wiping the drool from my mouth I glanced down the hallway towards the front door of my apartment. The deadbolts were engaged and the chain lock was still hooked, confusion washed over me. Who is in my kitchen?
“Hello?” I asked tentatively.
“Morning!” A sweet voice sang from the direction of the kitchen.
My brow furrowed in confusion, I stepped down the hall to peer into Polly’s bedroom. My beloved scarlet macaw’s cage was open and she was no where to be seen. I reached up and scratched at the day-old stubble on my chin absentmindedly. What in the world…
I padded down the hallway with a new eagerness. Turning the corner to enter the kitchen, I stopped in the doorway and gaped as I tried to make sense of the scene before me. A bright eyed, red haired girl stood at the stove, deftly frying what looked like a chicken breast. She swayed back and forth humming, her blue dress drifting from side to side against her long, slender legs. She wore a cardigan, it had yellow and green feathers around the collar, almost like a boa. Noticing my frame in the doorway, she turned to face me.
“Good morning, David.” she smiled and turned the flame off below the cast iron pan with the frying chicken, “Did you sleep okay?”
My mouth was open and I was trying to work out what to say. My mind grasped at words, but the sounds that emitted were broken and partial, “I.. er.. wha..” I tilted my head to the side and settled for a confused stare.
She let out an amused giggle, turning back to the stove and continuing her work, “Oh come on, sit down, relax. I’ve made you a special breakfast.” She motion with her free hand to the stool on the opposite side of the counter.
I was suddenly overwhelmed by the uncomfortable realization I was in my underwear and t-shirt in front of this stranger, but I shoved the feelings to the back of my mind. I obediently edged to the stool, never turning away from her or averting my gaze. I felt my way down the countertop, reaching the seat and pulling it out so I could sit down. Once I was settled I allowed myself to glance around the room, hoping to glean more information about the strange woman. Everything appeared normal in my humble abode, nothing was out of place or in disarray. How did she get in here? I returned my attention to her and swallowed as I watched her pull a large knife from the drawer.
“H-how’d you get in here?” I managed.
She began to slice through the chicken breast, the skin making a crunching sound with each movement of her arm. Her laugh sounded musical, “David, are you feeling okay?”
I eyed the knife and then looked back at her large, bright eyes, “Who are you?”
The girl set the knife down and stepped sideways to open the waffle iron. She grabbed a mixing bowl and poured the batter into the iron, closing the top. Pausing, she looked up at me with a catlike grin, “I’m Polly. Is this another one of your games?”
I blinked slowly, trying to put the pieces together in my mind. The creases in my brow deepened, “But my parrot…” I thought, aloud.
She grabbed an empty plate and set it next to the waffle iron. Removing an orange from a bowl on the counter, she started to peel it, “I’m not a parrot anymore,” she said, matter-of-factly.
I raised my eyebrows and felt my mouth open involuntarily again.
Polly waved one hand dismissively, “Oh it’s not a big deal. You’ve always wanted me to be human anyways.”
I stared at her in disbelief. It didn’t make any sense. Parrots didn’t just transform into people. I was a rational human and I knew this was absurd. But… the inkling of doubt wiggled into the forefront of my mind. My door was locked, this girl knew my name, she seemed familiar with my apartment, she looked…like my parrot. Unexplainable things happened every day, this could be my day…
Polly poked me in the shoulder with a spatula, “Right?”
“Er…” I rubbed my shoulder where she jabbed me, “Well, yeah, I guess.” I looked at her, really looked at her. I stared into her eyes, trying to find my parrot within. I can see her…this is real. She’s a human! She’s a girl! She’s… she can talk…she can reason. Oh shit.
Polly was watching me intently, she seemed dismayed at my shift in body language and facial expressions as I came to the realization of my new situation. She pulled a waffle from the iron and slid it onto the empty plate, fried chunks of chicken joined the waffle and were followed by warm maple syrup. A fan of orange slices adorned the dish as well. She placed the plate in front of me and leaned back, hands on her hips, “Aren’t you happy, David?”
I stared at the food for a moment, enjoying the dance of my tastebuds as the aroma wafted upwards towards my nose. My closest confidant..my best friend. She was human. She was attractive. She was making me breakfast. A sly smile spread across my face and I looked up at her, accepting the unexplained gift and finding immense joy in my new reality, “Yeah, I’m really happy. I just, I can’t believe it. I never even dreamed you would become human…it’s just a lot. But, I mean, wow. You are so beautiful. This is so surreal…”
Polly grinned and wiped her hands together, watching me take a bite of the delicious breakfast platter. The chicken was juicy and moist inside the perfectly crisped skin, the waffle was fluffy and full, the syrup coated it all with the perfect amount of sweetness. I let out a groan of approval, “Oh, Polly, this is so good. You’re spoiling me.” I smiled as I chewed, falling into my new situation without a second thought.
Polly leaned forward, placing her palms on the counter and gave me a sultry smile, “Well, I just wanted to repay your kindness the best way possible.” I shoved another bite into my mouth, nodding in agreement and smiling as best I could while chewing. She rolled her head to one side and looked at my sideways through half opened lids, “I owe you for all the sleep I’ve missed out on since I moved in next door.” I stopped chewing and swallowed what was in my mouth, an involuntary gulping noise made it’s way out of my body.
“M-moved in next door…?” My confusion reemerged to furrow my brow.
“Yeah,” the girl leaned back, straightening her body and brushed at the feathers on her sweater, “My room happens to share a wall with your damn parrot’s room. I’ve had the lovely experience of listening to it squawk all day while you’re at work.”
A chill ran through my body, “What did you do to Polly?!” I threw down my fork and jumped to my feet. I looked around wildly, calling to my feathered friend, “Polly?! Polly?!”
The girl watched me with a devious grin, her eyes gleaming with amusement. Her sightline shifted to the plate on the counter top.
I looked down at my once delicious breakfast. I could taste oranges in the back of my throat as my stomach lurched. I swallowed, determined not to be sick in front of the monster feigning the helpless girl. I choked on my words as I eyed the perfectly crispy bird breast atop the waffle, “…No. No, you didn’t…”
A maniacal laugh spewed forth from the girl as she doubled over to slap her hands on her legs. The feathers on her sweater ruffled with the movement, tugging at my fresh memories of Polly. My eyebrows drew together as my anger dashed my confusion to the sidelines. What a psycho!
She straightened up once more and looked at me, tilting her head and continuing to smile and chuckle as she responded, “I didn’t cook your bird for you, you idiot. I’m not that sadistic.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder and eyed me with a sinister glare.
I felt a flicker of hope burn within, but my anger still raged as I took a step towards the counter and slammed my fist into it. As I followed through with the motion, I hit the fork and it flipped off the counter and across the room, clattering against the refrigerator before dropping to the floor with a pitiful ‘clank’. I glared at the girl, willing a further explanation from her.
She raised her hands up defensively, taking a step back, “Okay, okay. Maybe I took this too far.” glancing towards the fork she pursed her lips before she continued, “I was just really angry that your bird kept making so much noise, and you’re never here during the day to complain to…and I work a night shift, so it’s been really difficult to get things figured out.” She eyed the doorway, my eyes flicked towards it and then back to her, I raised an eyebrow as I tried to decipher what she was thinking and saying.
“I’ve been listening to your bird squawk about you, I feel like I know you at this point. So, I kind of let myself in through your balcony. I thought I’d get you back in a x-files-inspired-fashion, since apparently that’s your favorite show according to your bird.” She smiled weakly, trying to look as innocent as possible while admitting to trespassing.
I squinted my eyes at her and asked, “But where is my bird?”
The girl put her hands back on her hips and raised an eyebrow at me before stating matter-of-factly, “I freed her, of course. You know birds aren’t meant to be kept in cages, right? It’s inhumane.”