Once upon a time, a parrot named Max was flying through the forest at a terrific speed, trying to outrun his young human owner, Zane, having finally put in place his genius plan for escape. For too long, Max had been a prisoner inside the cage, eating all sorts of bland seeds and being given nothing but plain water to drink. Plain water? What sort of parrot did Zane think he owned? Some kind of, cheap, second-rate parrot you could easily purchase in a pet store? What a disappointment the last six weeks had turned out to be. It’s not often a bird can thank a cat for their escape, but that is precisely how his plan played itself out.
Six weeks ago, Zane turned eight and, instead of the usual wooden toys or new clothes he received seven birthdays prior to this one, his grandmother decided that Zane was now ready for a pet. Zane’s parents were against the idea of owning a dog, and, for obvious reasons, they most certainly didn’t want a cat. Without very much consultation at all, Zane’s grandmother went out and acquired a parrot for him to own as his very first pet. She never said where she got the parrot from, only that it was a very rare breed, and that Zane would have to take excellent care of the bird if he wanted it to stay. The most enticing part of owning this particular parrot, his grandmother had said, was that it could learn to speak with surprising ease. Having also supplied a modestly-sized cage, some newspaper, a drinking container, a swing and a mirror, Zane’s grandmother told him he now had everything he needed to enjoy the bird for many years to come.
Zane decided to name his parrot, “Max”, after his grandfather, who had won so many hunting awards that he was required to move away to be part of an exclusive club on the other side of the country. Zane had never met him, though he had heard very positive things from all of his family members about what a terrific person he was. Therefore, his grandfather was most famous person Zane knew, and this was as good a reason as any for him to stick with the name Max.
For three weeks, Zane tried to encourage the parrot to speak. He repeated what he thought might be the parrot’s favourite words over and over again. He tried rewarding the parrot with the best food money could buy (at least that’s what the local pet store owner had said, anyway). He even tried reading to him each night to see if there were any interesting sentences or phrases Max might like to learn. Despite all of Zane’s efforts, Max remained silent. He occasionally let out a little “cheep” as a reminder for Zane to feed him when he first woke up, but, aside from that, Zane felt like his grandmother should have bought it for him as the world’s quietest parrot rather than one of the most talkative. His grandmother, however, reassured him that the bird would talk, and, once it did, it wouldn’t stop.
Given this information, Zane continued to try and teach Max to talk, though he eventually cut back on their daily “language” lessons, only attempting to get Max to talk during very brief weekly lessons. One day, while Zane was pointing out the window, attempting to teach Max the words for “tree” and “leaves”, a cat jumped up on the window sill in an attempt to ambush the bird, apparently not understanding the purpose of the pane of glass separating the two animals from each other.
To Zane’s surprise, Max suddenly yelled, “What on Earth was that! You need to get that thing away from both of us as soon as you can!”
“You… you… can talk?” Zane asked with a stutter.
“Yes, genius, of course I can talk, isn’t that what your Grandmother has been telling you over the past 5 weeks? What did you think she was a liar or something?” Zane stared at the bird with his mouth open in shock.
“Now, pick that jaw off the floor and get rid of that… that evil creature as quickly as you can. I no more want to see that thing again than fly to the moon.”
Zane did as he was asked and opened the window to shoo the cat away by making hissing noises himself and clapping his hands loudly. He made sure the cat was well out of sight before turning slowly back to his pet parrot.
“Yes, yes. I suppose you have a great number of questions, young Zane,” Max said quite eloquently. Zane nodded without saying a word. “And I shall give you all the answers your little heart desires. Just let me out of the cage and we’ll sit down and have a nice chat. I am your grandfather after all.”
Zane couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He shook his head as if coming out of a day-dream. “You’re my, what?” he asked.
“Your grandfather. I am your grandfather. Well, in spirit at least, anyway. Your grandmother couldn’t stand my non-stop talking, so she turned me into this bird to keep me quiet and to keep me caged up! Her plan somewhat backfired and, instead, she ended up with a rather grumpy and talkative bird. That’s how you ended up with me, young Zane.”
Zane blinked several times rapidly.
“Now about getting me out of this cage,” Max mentioned impatiently.
“Of course,” Zane said as he opened up the cage door, lifting Max out on to his finger.
Max took this opportunity to immediately leap off of Zane’s finger and straight out of the window, into the dense forest. Zane ran through the house and out the front door to chase after his grandfather but tripped over the cat who was now waiting on the steps for another opportunity to enter the house. After sitting up and brushing the dirt from his knees, Zane managed to catch one last glimpse of his grandfather flying deep into the forest and found himself hoping that his grandfather finally finds peace in his well-deserved freedom.