Songbird Pet Emporium (short)

There is a cacophony few men will ever know – the sultry sound of a mom and pop pet shop, dealing primarily in rodents and birds, at 2:30 AM. It’s a sound Jen can never escape. She sleeps in the flat above the shop, where her parents lived until her mother died of breast cancer and her father moved into a home. She took over the shop, because her siblings did not want to and “it’s not like there much else going on for Jen anyway.” That’s what Jamie said on the phone when the three of them were discussing the Songbird Pet Emporium.
“I mean,” he’d continued, “with the depot closing down, haven’t you just been floating around for a couple months? And you always liked that shop most anyway…” Grace didn’t chime in, but she wasn’t refuting Jamie’s bitter, unreasonable truths.
Two and a half weeks later, Jen had moved her dad out – finding three sets of cracked dentures, a taxidermized turtle in the closet and shocking number of cosmopolitan magazines in the dresser. A week later, she had moved in – bringing with her too many lamps and a sense of cottony gloom at the trajectory of late 20s.

Two months later, her eyes bloodshot, she stared at the ceiling. Listening to the 13 chinchillas 12 feet directly below her apparently holding the World Cup Finals in their cage. She didn’t want to be here anymore. She wanted to go. Somewhere.

A year and a half later, at 2:30 in the morning, the chinchillas were throwing the rodent rally of the year. 15 of them now, clattering around the cage like puffy spherical bumper cars. But upstairs, Jen was asleep. Her eyes weren’t bloodshot anymore – her two dogs snoozed in the room, one on the bed and the other by the moon stricken window. Jen wanted to go. Somewhere. Still. But… not right now.

37 years later… the Pet Emporium, with it’s chinchillas and sugar gliders and parakeets and ferrets, burned down. Jen died in her favorite place in the world.

One Reply to “Songbird Pet Emporium (short)”

  1. What?! No!

    Wow, this was good. Good, relatable, human themes; angsty at first; big tragic reveal at the end?! Whoa. A couple word choices caught a little bit for me – “moon stricken window”; “cottony”? And a couple passive verbs could be strengthened – “were discussing” could be “discussed,” etc. But wow, I really like this.

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