Metropolitan Squawk-ra

January 25, 2016
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“Ugh,” I grumbled facing the bright windows, which the burning morning light flooded through.  “Too bright!”  Sometimes I swear I’m half vampire.  It was a bright May morning.  I clumsily rolled to the left side of my bed, enveloping myself in a warm blanket burrito, but I miscalculated where the edge of the bed was.  “Thud!” 

I groaned,”Ow.”
My mom came rushing up, doing an impression of a mama bird,”Squaw Squaw!  Is my baby bird okay?”  Here comes helicopter mom, or shall I say, hawk mom,”You know, the early bird gets the worm!”  I turned around sluggishly, taking in her unbelievably corny, toothy grin.  Everyone else in my family is a morning person, I am not.  Is that such a crime? 
I stepped out of my blanket burrito,”I’m fine, and really?  Please, no bird puns before 7:00 am.”  I love my mother to pieces, but I can’t stand our family knack.  Bird calling.  You heard me correctly bird.  Calling.  And they wonder why I don’t bring potential boyfriends or friends home. 
My dad “swoops” in,” Good morning Avocet!”  They named me, after a bird, the Grey Avocet, which they thankfully shortened to Avocet, Avocet Viztanzon.  I am the worst bird caller ever, and they name me after an awkward long necked feathered friend.  “We’re off to the collegiate bird calling competition, with your brother...”
My mom interrupted,” Do you want to come with us?” 
I plastered on a fake smile as my annoying frat boy brother intrudes,” Oh, you know, it sounds really,” I sound even more sarcastic,”really tempting, but I’m afraid I have a prior engagement, and its name is pizza.” 
My mom grins, extremely gullible,” Well I’m glad you made a new friend!”
Josh sticks his tongue out at me behind “mama bird’s” back,” Fine loser, have fun sulking like a recluse,” he smirked,”I’ll be back soon, with a trophy to rub in your face.”  He laughed like an egotistical doofus. 
“Fine,” I stuck my tongue back,”I will have fun.”
Dad jumped in,”Not too much fun, you little rebel,” he tousled my hair,”no huge parties while we’re gone.”
I turned the sarcasm back on,”I’ll try not to throw a wild soiree.”  My zany family finally made an exodus out of my room.  I ran a brush through my feral-looking dark blonde hair.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear the ringtone I have for my best friend since,well, birth, Tristan LaChappelle.  I tapped the answer icon and spoke,”Hey nerd, what’s up?”
He laughed lightly, I love to make him laugh,”Nothing much, just wondering if you want to go to a Renaissance Faire in Lakeside Park.  I’ve heard they have the best music over there, as well as turkey legs.”
I chuckled,”I’d love to.  So, are we going in costume?” I laughed again, Tristan’s mom has been doing “Ren’ Faires” for the longest time, and we always go to the Faires she runs.
“No, no, nothing too ornate, just meet me at the park at 10:25, that’s when it starts.”
“Can’t wait!” I could feel him smile through the phone. 
“It’s a date!  I mean uh, not like a date-date but like a day date, you know like haha just best buddies!  Yeah dude, haha!” He paused his adorable stammering (which had a twinge of a French accent), and sighed,”Well, bye, um pal!”
I giggled,”Yeah, pal!” I couldn't stop laughing after I hung up.  He’s hysterical, so awkward it’s funny.  I pulled on a Ledd Zeppelin shirt and some jeans, with navy Converses.  It was almost 10:00 after I ate breakfast and got ready. I had to ride my bike over, so I grabbed my royal blue bike.  It used to be my mother’s and it read,”blue raven” on the handle bar.  She was so bird crazy that she had gotten it engraved.  My Converses hit the pedals and I began to roll down the driveway.
I suddenly heard a scream,”Ow!  My wing!  My wing!”  I thought it was our elderly neighbor, who worked on model airplanes.  I was worried she had fallen over, so I rushed over and searched for Mrs. Prichett.
I shouted,”Mrs. Prichett?  Are you alright?”
I heard a voice, though she wasn’t in sight,”Over here human!”  I mean, I know Mrs. Prichett is a little “off” but she does know my name.  She must’ve fallen hard!
“Can you tell me where you are?”
I scanned her backyard, and I jumped when I heard her again, loud and clear,”DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT STEPPING ON ME!”  This time, the voice did not sound like Mrs. Prichett.  I turned around slowly, and screamed,”AAAAAHHHHHH!” 
The miniscule creature screeched back,”SQUAWKKKKK!”
I stared, dumbfounded,”You’re a...a...a”
“A talking bird,” it finished,”like I haven’t heard that before.”  It looked up at me, annoyed,”Well?  A little help here?  Ugh, you humans are soooo slowwww!”  The creature
had the temperament of a spoiled teenage girl.  I stood there, gaping at the bird.
“What can I do to help?” I looked at the creature, concerned.
“You could stop staring and go grab a first aid kit.”  It replied sharply.
I was too shocked to speak, so I did what the bird said.  On my way to the house, I texted Tristan,”Sorry not feeling great, we’ll go to the faire another time.”   I grabbed the first aid kit from our basement.  I approached the bird,”What happened?” I questioned while wrapping its obviously broken wing. 
“Well…..” its sassy persona turned sheepish,”You know how people say, don’t text and drive?”
I wondered where this was going,”Yeah?”
“I didn’t think that applied to texting and flying.  It gets kind of boring with no other birds to talk to, so I stole this woman’s flip phone and have been trying to make conversation with some of her contacts.  Anyway I crashed into a tree while texting Donald Troomp.”
“You mean Trump?  Who’s phone did you steal?”  I gasped.
“It doesn’t matter now,” she continued shaking it off,”Thanks for patching up my wing, I’m *bird noises* but my human name is Elli.”
I smiled,”I’m Avocet.”
Then, I picked up the slightly cracked flip phone which read,”Property of Ivana Trump.” I carried Elli into my house.  There, I found a little bed from one of my old doll houses, and made Elli a small room in my closet.  We talked for a bit in the kitchen, and I couldn’t believe that I was actually talking to a Robin.  In English!  I asked her what she wanted to do with her life, and it turns out that Elli has always wanted to be an opera singer, but she fears that her audience wouldn’t like her feathery appearance.  I told her that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life.  My parents would love it if I won bird calling competitions.
The doorbell rang, and I made my way downstairs.  I bit my lip when I saw Tristan at the door with soup.  I whispered to Elli,”Hide!”  I walked toward the ebony plated door and hurriedly turned the knob. 
“May I come inside?  I have a delivery for the patient.”  He gestured toward the soup.
“Uhhh,” I coughed, changing to a false sick voice,”Sure.” I croaked.
We sat down in the kitchen, and I spoke softly,”What about the faire?”
He shrugged,”It’s fine, I’ve been to a ton of them.  I figured my patient was more important.”
I felt my heart cringe with guilt.  I was having trouble keeping up an ill facade,”It’s okay, really, I’ll be fine, don’t want to get you sick.  You go help your mother with the festivities.” 
He imitated a renaissance dialect,”I insist upon assisting milady with heating up her soup.”
I laughed,”Fine.”
He screamed after opening the microwave and I winced,”What’s wrong?” 
“THERE’S A ROBIN IN YOUR MICROWAVE!”  He yelled, obviously horrified.
I sighed, I better come clean now.  My parents are going to be home in a few hours anyway.
Soon, after I finally calmed Tristan down, I explained why I couldn’t attend the faire.  Elli’s special ability amazed him, and he finally understood all of the odd happenings this morning.  He promised to keep Elli’s secret.  When he left, Elli and I concocted a plan to impress my parents.  She wanted to thank me for fixing her wing.  Finally, we came up with a plan; I would hide Elli in my hair, and attend bird calling competitions.  In return, I would help her operatic career by being her puppet at singing competitions.
Elli commented,”Oh, it’s like that movie Ratatoooo!”
“You mean Ratatouille?”  We were both belly-laughing.
All she needed was a human body to be accepted, and I was that body.  She would sing, and I would lip sync.  She would bird call I would lip sync.  Simple right?  Or so we thought.
Competition after competition passed by.  Months later, we enjoyed moving up the ranks, and we became best friends.  Practicing was a blast, these days I just seemed happier in general.  Until that day in August.
“What are we going to do?”  She looked up at me, tears welling in her eyes.
“I don’t know, but I know that I need to go to that competition, why can’t you understand that?”
“I get it!  But your dreams have no more importance than mine, why are you labeling your dreams so much more superior?” Her voice rose to a shout.
“Because they are!  Alright?  No one can see you!  So many people are counting on me, my parents, my friends, relatives.  Who’s counting on you?” I snapped.
“I thought you were.”  She responded bitterly, and flew out of the room with her phone.  I had nursed her broken wing back to health, and it had healed about a month ago.
Our premiere at the Metropolitan Opera was on the same day as the World Wide Chirper Invitational.  I mulled over the situation, and realized that her dreams were so amazing and ambitious.  I was simply holding her back from reaching them.  I decided to apologize, and called Ivana Trump’s (or Elli’s) phone. 
“What?”  I could hear her sniffling.
“Hey, I’m sorry, it was wrong for me to restrain you from reaching your goals.  You’re the real star.”  I wiped a tear from my face.
“I forgive you.  You were probably just nervous about the big performance, and that’s why you lashed out.  I understand.” 
I sighed in relief, but a knot remained in my stomach because, I didn’t know why I was so afraid of disappointing  people.  This was not my plan.
At around 9:00 at night, my mother drove me and my giant hair “bun” to the MET, and said that she was so proud of me, and that there would always be other bird calling competitions.  This shocked me.  Maybe she was more accepting than had I originally thought.  I made my way into the costume room, put on my gold lined fairy dress.  According to the Opera House Committee, I am the first teenager to ever play Titania, from the opera, Oberon.  I sauntered into hair and makeup, feeling like royalty.  My glory was short lived when a dramatic hair stylist pulled me aside,”Dahling, your hair looks like an absolute bird’s nest!”  He gasped.
I murmured while walking away,”Ha, if only he knew!”  I heard Elli chuckle in my hair and I shushed her.  I stepped in the direction of the curtain.  I waited in the narrow hall, listening for my cue.  I turned the corner and saw the one person who made my heart skip.
“What are you doing here?”  I questioned.
“Backstage pass.”  Tristan smirked,”But first, tell me.  Is this you?”  He melted me with that look.
“What?”  I was taken aback.  “I...I can’t lie to you.  Elli is the real talent.  I’m a phony.”  I started sobbing quietly.
“Hey!  Hey, don’t cry.  You’re wrong.  I don’t expect you to do anything that you can’t.  You are amazing, in so many ways.  You’re not a phony, you’re confused.  You don’t know how to be yourself.  Fearing disappointment.  I get it, we’re teenagers, we don’t have to rush to find ourselves.  But you can be yourself, you know that right?”  He offered me a tissue.
“How’d you know?  I...I can’t be myself, all of these expectations get in the way, these “dreams” aren’t mine.”  I sniffled.
He wrapped me in an embrace,”You’ll find your dreams, don’t worry.  Don’t let anyone change you.  You’re perfect.  Now go out there, and shine, the way I know you can.”
I laughed, trying to get out the pent up emotion.  I glanced up at his eyes,”Thank you, I needed that.  And, I am so not perfect!”
“You are in my eyes.”  The conversation paused and the silence was deafening. 
I smiled,”You too.”
He looked extremely shocked, Tristan blushed and pushed his nerdy glasses up the bridge of his nose.  Elli spoke,”Well that’s adorable and all, but I just heard our cue, run Avocet run!”
I raced on stage, and knew immediately what I needed to do.  When Elli began the second verse of the song, I undid my bun and stopped lip syncing.  Elli was so caught up in the moment that she kept singing, and flew toward the throne on the stage..  Gasps echoed through the audience, and one man in the front (with a funny monocle, I might add) started a standing ovation.  The act flooded through the Opera until the whole theater was on their feet, clapping away.  Elli glanced at me, with a look of gratitude and joy upon her face.  I nodded, and waved goodbye to Elli’s adoring fans.  Tristan met me backstage.
“I knew you could do it.”  He praised.
After this event, Elli was recognized as a phenom in the world of science and opera.  We stayed close friends, and I found my talent in writing after being invited to sit in with the board of writers working on the script for her new performance.  I have written several operatic manuscripts, and I am the youngest person to ever write operas for the Met.  Tristan has supported me through it all, and is an intern photographer for the Met.  We are heading to NYU together in the fall, and a new adventure will soon begin.






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