She wanted me to take the bird to the vet, but I knew the little bastard was faking it. Coughing behind his wing, shaking his legs when he knew we were looking. It was all the medical dramas she watched, I was sure of it. The bird sitting in the room with her while she watched chisel-jawed actors solve a procession of rare and exotic prime-time diseases. Gave it too many ideas. One night I stayed up late, casually holding our mini-camcorder in my pocket. Wanted to catch it jumping around the cage, doing cartwheels around its perch. But it was too crafty. Just sat there, making pathetic squawks. The next morning we woke to find half its feathers gone. She screamed, picked up the cage and shoved it into my arms. Deal with it, she said to me, we haven’t got much time. When I started to talk, she said, Damn the consequences, just get it done! There’s a life at stake, dammit! Then she looked off into the distance, waiting, I guessed, for an ad break. Then the bird made a noise like a heart monitor. Cheep. Cheep. Cheeeeeeeep.