Janice undid the budgie’s cage and put in her slim finger and the bird hopped on and she pulled out her finger with the bird still there not moving not flying through the air see she said she will not go you stood watching with your back to the door hands on the wooden panel she spoke to the bird it cocked its head she muttered nonsense sounds the bird moved its wings but didn’t attempt to fly just stared her in the eye I often get her out to feel freedom

Janice said moving around the room the bird balancing itself as she moved what if the bird flew away? you asked it won’t she said but what if it did? you said Janice moved her head to one side in imitation of the bird her red beret still in place ah then Gran would tan my hide redder than my beret she said the bird walked along her finger but it won’t go Janice said and walked to the open window and held the bird there the bird looked out winking an eye or so seeming and looked away

but some time you said it might take flight Janice walked across the room to the cage and put the bird back and closed the door with a soft click she smiled maybe she said maybe you moved away from the door and her gran came in with sandwiches on a large white plate and put them on the table has Janice shown you the budgie? her gran asked yes you said Janice looked at you eyebrows raised she didn’t open the cage and get it out did she? Janice looked away

no no you said she just pointed it out and we spoke to her o good because she has the terrible habit of taking it out when my backs turned and one of these days it will fly away Gran moved back to the kitchen to fetch the other tea things Janice said you lied for me well I didn’t want you to get into trouble you said Janice pulled a face lies can land us in Hell she said well it’s either Hell or a good tanning you said she smiled and sat at the table and you sat beside her

hearing her gran in the kitchen with cups and saucers and the kettle whistling loud and clear Janice’s hand touched yours and she whispered in your ear ( so gran wouldn’t hear) you are a dear.