Alison knew something was wrong when she couldn’t find Mr. Snufkins in his usual spot by the window. Instead, she found him in the dark in her room, seemingly enjoying the solitude. Throwing her briefcase and purse in a plush chair, she pondered the change of location. Mr. Snufkins was still young and rambunctious, but quite normal for a puppy his age.
When he began to give up his playful nature and his favorite spaces, Alison thought it seemed strange. When he stopped eating as much food, she began to grow concerned.
The only thing that had changed in the last few weeks was Mr. Snufkins new companion, Ms. Bittle, a plucky parakeet Alison’s boyfriend had given her. Sweet and also quite playful, Ms. Bittle was well trained, and quiet–by parakeets’ standards. She had free reign of the house and was only caged at night when Alison slept.
Alison enjoyed the moments when Mr. Snufkins would curl up on her lap and Ms. Bittle would perch on her shoulder as she read aloud to them. With one hand on her book and the other methodically rubbing Mr. Snufkins’ fur, Alison felt grateful for Ms. Bittle’s seamless transition. She now felt silly for having told Bryan that a bird might disrupt things. He had insisted everything would be fine.
One morning on the way to work she reached for her phone to thank her boyfriend for Ms. Bittle, when she realized she’d left it on the kitchen counter. Within a few minutes she was back home.
As she opened the door, she saw Ms. Bittle hovering over the puppy, drawing closer until Mr. Snufkins leapt toward her. The parakeet pulled away, taking advantage of Mr. Snufkins short stature, before once again moving closer toward his face.
“She loves me. I am loved.” Ms. Bittle screeched. “She loves me!”
Alison hurled her keys at the bird.
Ms. Bittle quickly pulled up before flying out the front door.
Alison shook her head. She should have known. After 30 years she was just now dealing with the fallout of the internecine relationship she and her younger sister had because they were only 12 months apart in age .
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Snufkins!”
Alison pulled him close and hugged him.
“I forgot how younger siblings can be.”
She gazed into his big, forgiving eyes and saw his playful smile return.
“Don’t worry; you will stay an only child,” she reassured him.
She kissed the top of his head, before setting him down.
Mr. Snufkins trotted back toward the window and resclaimed his favorite spot.