Every morning they come out of nowhere, flying through the open canopy of our house. They always land on us while we’re sleeping. Dozens of them gather on the rafters and descend on us, waking us up with their incessant chirping.
This morning is different. She’s managed to wake us both before the first whisper of sunrise. She’s also managed to convince me that the birds won’t land on us if we move the bed to the opposite corner of our one-room house.
The Glass Nest
Easier said than done, I tell her. The house is littered with our things: her threads and textiles, my paints and canvasses, her sheet music, my computer parts. She gets started on sorting the small items strewn across the floor as I move the large pieces of furniture that obstruct the planned path of our move.
Somewhere, a clock chimes, but I can’t see it; there’s just too much old furniture and junk. It’s nearly sunrise, and I can already hear chirping. She throws clutter-filled boxes on the bed as I finish clearing the path. The floor is littered still with tiny things that she could not waste time picking up: pennies, buttons, safety pins, transistors.
I tell her that the boxes on the bed should be removed to lighten the load. She says that they’re all filled with small parts, so it’s okay.
I pull while she pushes. The bed is a lot heavier than it looks. The frame is a simple set of iron bars. Like all our furniture, it’s old and weathered. With each heave, we’re barely able to move a few inches. I look up at the rafters. There’s already one parakeet there, watching.
We redouble our efforts. Rest, heave, then a check of the rafters. Each time we look, there’s another one or two. Eventually, there are thirty or forty of them.
— — —
We’re finished, and the sun is about to rise. She falls onto the bed with a moan, knocking off a half-completed painting. It’s an image of her in repose, wearing the same housefrock. Her face is unfinished.
She tells me she hates the bed where it is now. I hate it too; there’s not enough sunlight. It’s worth it, she says, to be able to sleep in peace. In the rafters, the parakeets chirp.
Still exhausted, she says she wants to make more curtains on her loom. We don’t get enough privacy, she says, living in a greenhouse. I say that we could always buy some curtains. She hates that idea. If she weaves them all by loom, she tells me, it’ll be more like home. More likeus.
The ceiling is made of glass too. I wonder how we can cover a glass ceiling. Some of the panels are missing. I wonder also why it’s never rained since we moved in. Not a single drop.
A crash destroys my reverie. She’s lazily kicking boxes off the bed. Their contents scatter across the room as they hit the floor. Before I can complain, she reaches up and pulls me down and into her arms. She says she wants to make love.
Her skin is hot, smooth and supple. Her hair smells like summer rain. I find myself wondering if she’s made of rain. She pulls my face into the small of her neck.
— — —
We wake up later in each other’s arms. There are two parakeets on her head. The bed is filled with them. Angrily, she sits up and waves her arms. She curses the birds as they scatter and fly back up to the rafters.
So much for that idea, I tell her. She smiles at me and says she has a better one. She’s going out to buy netting. We can hang it just below the rafters so the birds can’t get in.
While trying to find her shoes, she stubs her toe on an upright piano. I don’t remember us getting a piano, I say. She tells me that she wants to learn how to play it, but has to restore it first. The thing is old, with yellowed keys and scratched wood.
She puts on a tan sundress and sandals, pulls her rusty bicycle from behind the piano and walks out the door. I ask her to buy a broom also.
— — —
I pick up the unfinished painting of her, walk over to my easel, and set it down. As I mix the paints, I realize that I can’t remember what her face looks like. I take the painting and place it on the floor. I pick up a blank canvas and start working on a new painting of her. In this one, she’s wearing a sundress and riding a bicycle. Her skin is glowing. I work for hours, but am unable to paint her face.
The parakeets are all on the bed again. I don’t even bother shooing them away; the sun is setting and they’ll be going away soon, anyway.
— — —
It’s dark by the time she gets back. Candles light our house and her hair glistens in the light. I put away her bicycle as she drags a sack full of netting through the door. Her hair is wet, she says, because it was raining. I tell her that it’s strange, since not a drop of water leaked in through the open ceiling. She looks at me mischievously. She forgot to get a broom, she says.
I say it’s too late and too dark to hang the netting. Besides, I couldn’t find a ladder. It’s okay, she says, toweling off her hair. If we get up early enough, we can hang the netting and move the bed back to the other side of the house.
I examine the netting. It’s as fine as gossamer and the same colour as her dress. We should sleep now, she says; we want to get up early before the birds come.