‘See the kid, see the kid.’ The white and black beak clicked clicked at Annie, the parrot’s pale eyes darting between her hands, searching for a treat. ‘See the kid,’ it spoke again.
‘I’m not rewarding you for that,’ she told him, and she transferred him from his perch to her shoulder. ‘It’s no family of mine.’ He turned around and around, swaying as she walked into the conservatory.
‘On my way, see the kid.’ The parrot nipped at one of Annie’s fingers when she tucked her hair behind her ear.
‘Off!’ she swatted at him, and the bird clipped her with a wing as he rose to rest on a lamp.
When Alice called from the kitchen door half an hour later, Annie did not go to her as she usually did. Alice found her, empty tea cup cold in her hand, and sat on the opposite end of the couch, legs outstretched. ‘How was your day?’ she asked her, but Annie said nothing. She prodded her sister with a toe.
‘He’s still saying it.’
Alice brushed her furrowed brow with a shaky hand. ‘I’m sorry.’
Annie rolled her eyes.
‘Hey.’ Alice prodded her with a toe again. ‘She’s not that bad.’
‘She’s not Mom.’