Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, March 6, 2015

Sisters

The morning sun shone through the great cage with the brightly-plumaged macaw perched alertly inside.
Norma was on her knees beneath, scraping with a long-handled shoehorn.
And muttering unintelligibly to herself.
I turned the page of my magazine as she emerged, still talking, “. . . fluff!”
 “And feathers!” I turned another page and glanced at her over my magazine. “Need I remind you that it was your idea to get the smelly old bird in the first place?”
She snorted as she straightened her glasses and glared at me.
I looked at her again. “Was that a snort?”
She suddenly found something very interesting in the pattern of the dining room wallpaper. “No.”
“It was! It was a snort!”
“Well, you called Reginald a smelly old bird!”
“Well, he is!” I dove back into my magazine.
She got to her feet and pushed her glasses up on her nose once more. “Of all the rude, inconsiderate . . .” Whatever else she had to say became muffled as she disappeared into the next room.
I sighed and turned another page. I had long since stopped seeing what was there. I was too interested in baiting my sister.
Soon, Norma was back, still talking. “. . . and you know that I thought he would be some nice cheerful company. And still, you . . .” She stopped and frowned. “Why did I go into the kitchen?”
I looked at her and raised my eyebrows.
She glanced down at her mass of seeds and shredded papers on the otherwise spotless floor. “Oh.” She disappeared once again. “I don’t understand . . .” Once more, her words became a mere thread of sound, muffled by the thick walls. This time, when she emerged, she was carrying the trash can. “. . . know that a bit of cheerful company is always pleasant. Especially when one’s only roommate is one’s little sister. One’s snarky little sister.”
Little sister. The phrase always conjured up the picture of a small child in pigtails. Not the octogenarian of reality. I grinned. “But that’s what makes me so nice,” I said.
She pushed her glasses up and glared at me again, then knelt and started scraping bits of paper and seeds into the garbage. “Nice? Well, I don’t know if I could use the term in describing you.” She got up again and, carrying the trash can, started toward the kitchen once more. “I always thought people who are nice were . . .” What she thought nice people were was again lost through the thick lath and plaster between us.
I turned another page and saw the brightly coloured picture of a woman afloat on a cloud with visions of cars, appliances and tropical locales floating in the air about her. A caption, written boldly below questioned: ‘What are your dreams?’
“. . . and dusters. Don’t forget that we need to take a pile of them with us when we go over to help clean!” Norma was back, still clutching the garbage can. And, inexplicably, a fork. She stopped in the doorway. “Oh. I forgot.” She turned and left, but was back a moment later without the trash can and fork, but carrying a large rag and a bucket of warm, soapy water. “Here, Reginald!” she cooed. “Let’s get things all nice and clean!”
The great bird moved to the side of his cage and looked down on her as she dropped to her knees, dipped the rag in the water, wrung it out carefully and started scrubbing. “Get you - all comfy - and nice . . .” her words took on a rhythm as she cleaned. Finally, satisfied, she dropped the rag into the water and stood up. “There.” She nodded in satisfaction. Leaning close to the bars, she made clicking noises with her tongue. “Who’s the pretty bird? Who’s my little gentleman?”
Reginald tipped his head to one side and regarded her. “Gentleman!” he repeated.
Norma smiled. “That’s right. It’s you!” She bustled off through the doorway.
Reginald looked over at me, then turned slightly, fluffed his feathers, and let go a large, wet glob of something disgusting.
It made a great splat on the still-damp floor.
I smiled and hid behind my magazine.


Each week, Delores of Under the Porch Light concocts a delightful challenge.
Words (or phrases) that her followers then have to weave into  . . . something.
This week's challenge: Dreams and dustersFluff and feathers.
What on earth to do with that?!
Slip on over to Delores' and see what the others have created . . .

16 comments:

  1. As always, you did a great job with your word prompts. You always pull me in with your stories, I often don't know til the end that one is actually fiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen! That's how my Dad used to tell a story. We'd be so drawn in that often we'd be quoting as truth some tale he'd made up. Embarrassing . . .

      Delete
  2. What a wonderful story! It made me want to know more about these two sisters and their dirty bird. Perhaps they are on their way to clean my house?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know when they get there . . .

      Delete
  3. You had no trouble with the words...and...you've convinced me I don't want a bird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And another note - the bigger the bird, the bigger the mess. Just FYI.

      Delete
  4. Maybe all pets are the same. No sooner do I clean a litter box than a cat uses it. Every time.

    But I'm off the topic :) Great story & use of words. I could see the scene unfolding ... always a sign of good writing, in my books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even horses. We used to clean our brood mare's stall and the second she came back in, she had to 're-claim' it. Sigh.

      Delete
  5. This is great! How were you able to come up with such a good story with those prompt words? LOL! It reminds me of a Toucan we used to have in our family when I was young. He was a messy, messy bird!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good story! I'm rather glad Reginald lives 'there' and not 'here' though!
    I never baited my older sister, but my younger brother and I were quite often at war.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Too funny, Diane! I love your stories. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :)

      Delete
  8. Well done with the words! We have had a lot of pets but never birds. You may just have reminded me why ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are definitely smarter than Marie! :)

      Delete

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