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The Birds

I made my way down our hallway, which wasn’t long at all but always seemed so dreary, especially mornings. The crimson red curtains my Mom had hanging in the family room were closed and didn’t allow even a tiny bit of light to shine into the house. We had many trees in our backyard but they didn’t allow much sun in and so our house always felt a bit dark and cold. Today, the hallway seemed exceptionally long almost as though I would never make my way through it. I had a dreadful, morbid feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know what I was about to witness in the family room but my eyes were not ready to see what laid before me. It was a fucking blood-fest. Something you might see in a horror movie or in your worst nightmares. I wanted the ground to swallow me up with its cold, frigid mouth but to my dismay it did not happen. I had to make my way towards the blood even though my steps were heavy and the family room beckoned me to come back to it. I wanted to be sick but I knew I had to deal with it. I always had to deal with it.

Here is a visual of our family room: When you first walked into our house the family room was immediately to the right and it was a fairly small room with white walls and a picture or two. A blue suede sofa – which traveled with us the last two moves – was nestled up against one wall. The window was adorned with crimson curtains. Sitting next to the sofa in a corner was a table which held an 8track player and a wooden and ivory photo album with Geishas carved into it – a gift to her from my uncles. On the opposite wall was Dad’s desk which sat below an enormous collection of Encyclopedias. In the corner above the table and 8track player hung a bird cage. I honestly cannot remember the color of the cage but I guess it never really mattered.

On most days you could hear our love birds and parakeet cheerfully chirping. They were so sweet. My mom loved those birds. I had the duty of keeping their cage clean and what a chore it was. Trying to keep them from getting out was a chore in and of itself but I somehow always managed to keep them inside. And birds are messy little things. I never quite understood why my mom had them – the neat freak she was. Then again, I am a neat freak too and I have three animals in my house so, I guess it shouldn’t be that tough to understand.

As I made my way towards the family room, I began to notice the floor littered with towels, feathers and blood, a lot of it. It felt as though I stood there for hours but in reality, it was only a few minutes. I just stood there staring at all the feathers and all the blood. I was horrified! My gut told me to check the front door to make sure it was locked. I then knocked on my mom’s door. She didn’t answer but I could hear her moving around so I assumed she was okay. So many things had crossed my mind. It was then that I realized the house was quieter than usual…

I didn’t hear the birds. When I went to their cage, I found it was empty. And the cage was open. There were no birds flying loose in the house either.

What the fuck is going on? my little girl mind screamed.

I frantically began looking for the birds amongst what seemed like a thousand towels, displaced sofa and tangled curtains. It was as though a fucking tornado blew through our family room. And then, I found the birds. One love-bird was hidden underneath the curtains, his cold body just lying there. I wanted to pick him up but I just couldn’t. I found his lover not far away from him next to the corner table. I never found our Parakeet but the sliding glass door leading out to the backyard was wide open. All I could do was cry. I wept for a very long time. I was so mad. All I could think was: How could she do this? Why did mom do this to our birds? I HATED HER!

And then I did something that I regret to this day. But, I was young and didn’t understand the true disease of alcoholism. After composing myself and clearing my head, I cleaned up the mess. I ran to my room and pulled out the bags of empty Vodka bottles she hid in my closet. Two bags full, I dragged through that dark hallway, through our front door and dumped all the bottles onto our lawn. Then I grabbed a bottle in each of my hands and smashed them into the pavement. At this point she had finally woken up and was standing at the door just looking at me. What more could she do? I had already done it. I was so angry with her for killing those birds, even accidentally. I was angry with her drunkenness. I was angry at her lies and broken promises.

When I went back inside, calmer, she explained how the birds had gotten out of their cage while she was feeding them. In her drunken state, she’d attempted to get them back into their cage hence, the broom and towels. Passing out in her room afterwards, she never even realized she’d killed them. She was crying and remorseful but I didn’t care. I didn’t feel badly for her and I could not forgive her. I didn’t forgive her for a long time. We never spoke about this incident to anyone except my sisters.  It was swept under the carpet with all the other things that had to do with her alcoholism.

It’s funny how some things are so vividly fresh in your memory, they’ll always feel like they just happened yesterday, even though it was so many years ago.

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