There was a training at work, so Isaac would be going into work late. It was strange to see Charlie off to school and Marianne off to an appointment and have the house to himself. When was the last time that happened?
The house was quiet and still. The sunlight pouring through the windows painted a stark contrast between light and shadow. It was the kind of morning where he felt as though if he listened close, he’d be able to hear the music that was always just beneath the surface of everything.
He sat still, listening, and he could almost hear it. He leaned forward and listened more closely. Just when he was sure he’d heard a few notes, someone started yelling outside, breaking the silence.
“Help, help, help.” The voice was loud, but it sounded high-pitched, like a child’s voice.
Isaac raced to the front door and threw it open. He looked left and right. The street looked deserted. The neighborhood was quiet in the middle of the day, when everyone was at work or school or somewhere else. “Hello?” He shivered. It was cold, and he could see his breath.
“Help, help,” the voice called again. It was across the street and to the left. Was someone behind the oak tree?
Isaac stepped back inside to pull on his coat and quickly change his shoes. He crossed the yard, the snow crunching under his shoes and sparkling in the sun. “Is someone there? Do you need help?”
“Help, help, help.” The voice was right overhead.
Isaac looked up into the knot of bare branches. Was that a flash of green? “Hello?” he said again.
“Help, help. Get me a taco!” A bright green bird stepped out of the shadows and onto a branch. A parrot.
Getting the parrot out of the tree and finding its owner wouldn’t be easy. Isaac glanced at his watch. He had forty-five minutes. He took a deep breath. He could do this. He couldn’t leave the parrot outside in the cold. It wouldn’t last long.
Twenty minutes later, Isaac was running out of ideas. The parrot didn’t want bread or cereal or lettuce or apples. It didn’t want to fly down and snuggle into a warm blanket or through the open door into his house. It didn’t want to investigate the parrot videos on his phone.
“Help. Get me a taco!” the parrot said sadly. It flapped its wings and fluffed up and somehow looked miserable.
Isaac sighed. He had one idea left, but it seemed a little ridiculous. Unfortunately, the other options hadn’t worked, and he was running out of time.
He started to whistle a happy, lilting tune. The parrot cocked its head to the side. He whistled the tune again and reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a paper-towel wrapped parcel. The parrot watched closely as he unwrapped the paper towel and held up a taco.
The parrot flew from the tree and landed on his shoulder. “Get me a taco!” the parrot proclaimed, and then it began to peck at the taco shell. Isaac walked carefully back to his house, crunching across the icy snow and whistling the taco song from the recent dinosaur movie one more time.
Once inside, Isaac made a nest of towels in the bathroom next to the heat vent. He put the taco in a pie tin next to the nest and the parrot hopped down to continue crunching on its treat. He brought a dish of water to leave next to the pie tin. He left the light on and closed the bathroom door.
Isaac texted Marianne about the parrot and left for work. He checked his watch as he packed up his things. It was five minutes later than he’d wanted to leave, but somehow he arrived to the training just in time.
When Isaac arrived home after work, Charlie met him at the door. “Dad, guess what? There was a parrot here that could whistle the taco song from the dinosaur movie.”
“Isn’t he still here?” Isaac asked.
“No, mom found his owner. He really likes the dinosaur movies, too, just like we do. And tacos.”
“I guessed that,” Isaac said. “Was the parrot all right? It was really cold outside.”
“He seemed fine to me. Can we get a parrot?”
A pet that could escape and fly away? Isaac wasn’t sure he was ready for that. Maybe they could start a little smaller. “What about a pet rock?”
“Daaaaaaad.” Charlie didn’t look impressed. “Well, if I can’t get a parrot, could we invite that parrot to our dinosaur club? I think he’d fit right in.”
“We’ll see. I think he’d have a hard time participating in the activities.”
Charlie thought for a moment. “Maybe you’re right. Oh well. I can’t wait to tell Thomas about him. I didn’t know that parrots are so cool. Almost as cool as dinosaurs!”