Sara Levine is a short story writer and novelist. She is currently the chair of the Writing Program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“’Steer the boat, girlfriend. I’m speaking loud enough aren’t I?’
‘You always do,’ Lars said.
‘There’s nothing in Treasure Island about how the parrot begins to talk. No tips at all on the learning process.’
‘It’s a story, not a user’s manual. But don’t give up, you’ve got time. Parrots can live for a hundred years, you know.’
A hundred years? I glimpsed myself grown old. With a liver-spotted hand, I reached out for the birdseed; an empty house, a funeral procession, Richard on a stranger’s arm, flapping his wings on my grave. These images cooled my fervor for the project. One afternoon when the bird let loose a familiar torrent of enthusiasm about a hot double beef patty stacked with cheese, I threw down my book and glared. It was the middle of the day. I covered his cage with the cloth.