Short story for University 2009

Pigeons

It’s not like I even care about stupid birds anyway. Mum sent me down to the shops to get some milk because we always run out of milk around dinnertime and Mum likes to have a cup of tea after dinner. You can’t have tea without milk Mum says. It’s only a few blocks to the shops so it’s OK if I go by myself and I must have been about half way there when I saw him. He was lying in the middle of the footpath completely still, with his face screwed up like he was in pain. I poked him to see if he was all right but he didn’t move. He was dead. The pigeon was dead.

It’s not like I even care about stupid birds but this pigeon was different. He didn’t look like regular pigeons. The ones that you see milling about car parks by the beach. The ones that squawk and squabble with the seagulls, arguing over food scraps like angry parents. He looked different, this pigeon. His feathers weren’t patchy like the others, they were full and clean and shiny and you could see little bits of green instead of just the usual grey mess. The other thing that caught me was the look on his face. Birds don’t usually show you how they feel, especially dead birds, but this little guy looked really upset. There were no cuts or injuries on him and if I didn’t poke him then I might not have even known that he was dead. There were no trees around that he could have fallen out of and I just couldn’t figure out what had happened to him. All he had was this sad pained look on his face. There was no explanation. I felt ashamed when they found me there sitting next to this dead bird with tears falling from my eyes. I shouldn’t have been crying. Not at this. It’s not like I even care about stupid birds anyway.

Mum wanted to take me to see a doctor after what happened. I told her that the pigeon was clean and that I only poked him a little bit but she wouldn’t listen. She never does. Whenever you go to the doctor it either means that you’re sick or you have to get an injection, and since I wasn’t sick, I didn’t like where things were heading. Even Stevie didn’t like doctors and he was five years older than me. He used to pretend to be sick to get out of school and then he’d have to pretend to be better again so he didn’t have to go to the doctor. I guess he didn’t have to pretend to be better when he was just pretending to be sick in the first place but sometimes he’d still end up at the doctor. I always get to have those yummy jelly beans from the chemist after we go to the doctor, but it’s doesn’t make up for it. I don’t care about stupid jelly beans.

I prepared for the worst; a long wait in a boring white room with boring white walls waiting for a boring white man in a boring white coat to come and give me an injection. When we walked into the doctor’s office everything was suspiciously colourful. It didn’t even have the usual smell of toilet cleaner that’s supposed to stop the sick people from spreading germs. Everyone was really nice but they still looked at me like I was a diseased pigeon. There weren’t any kids with broken bones or runny noses either. Apparently it wasn’t that type of doctor. He didn’t make me stick out my tongue so he could press on it with the prickly paddle pop stick or listen to my heart with the cold metal thing that they must keep in the fridge or something. Nothing like that. We just talked. We talked about lots of things and he asked me lots of questions. He knew my brother Stevie. Apparently Stevie used to come and see him too. It was really nice to have someone so interested in me, nobody usually pays that much attention to me. I’m the youngest. It was nice to talk about Stevie too. Nobody talks about Stevie anymore. Pretty soon I realized where the questions were leading and I tried to answer them as best I could to make the doctor happy. I understood the type of answers that he wanted me to say. I think I told him what he wanted to hear. I hope so, he was a nice man.

We finished our appointment, he said to Mum that I was depressed and he gave her the pills for me to take. Depressed is such a depressing word. Why couldn’t I just be sad or upset? He seemed to be a very smart and important sort of man, so I didn’t say anything. I figure that adults just like to put labels on things. It seems to make them happy to have everything nice and organised. All my clothes and toys had little name labels on them, even though I knew they were mine. Mum liked to label all of the jars in the pantry; coffee, sugar, flour. I guess it was always just a matter of time before they labeled me. I was ‘depressed’. I wasn’t really depressed but it seemed to make everyone happy that finally I was labeled, explained, and they could get on with their neat lives with everything in it’s place. I was just glad that everyone was feeling better. Anyway, I’ve seen jars in the pantry that say Coffee on them and they have flour inside. It doesn’t mean it’s coffee.

My mum is great, but she doesn’t quite get me. She bought me a puppy. I always wanted a dog but I was never allowed to have one because Mum knew that she’d end up doing all the work and walking it and feeding it and I’d probably just get sick of it after a while and it wouldn’t be fair on the dog, or on Mum. That’s what she’d say whenever I used to ask for one. I’d given up asking a long time ago, but sure enough, there he was. His little shiny coat, it looked like he’d just been swimming or something, but he wasn’t wet. And dark little eyes. I thought eyes were either blue or brown but my puppy had black eyes. They matched his nose. I couldn’t help but laugh at his clumsy little legs trying to walk their way over to me. He wasn’t doing a very good job, but I didn’t mind. The first thing Mum asked me was what I was going to label him. I said I had to think about it. Being depressed wasn’t such a bad thing. I didn’t like the pills but Mum seemed a lot happier.

Mum wouldn’t let up on the whole give-a-dog-a-name thing so I caved and labeled him. I wanted to call him Depressed because that’s the reason I got to have him. Mum frowned. Mum said we were calling him Oscar. Maybe Mum thought she might get confused if I was depressed and the dog was Depressed. I was just glad to have one so I didn’t put up much of a fight, after all, labeling everything was Mum’s thing. Sometimes when it was just me and Oscar I’d call him Depressed and I don’t think it really bothered him. Just like it didn’t really bother me. We had heaps of fun, me and Oscar. He didn’t know any tricks like sit or fetch or anything like that but I didn’t care. We played our own games. Oscar liked to bite things. Bite and chew. It’s funny. I do see where mum was coming from though, she did do most of the feeding and walking. But she makes dinner for all of us every night and cleans the bathrooms and even does the gardening on the weekend and she never complains about any of that. I don’t really see what difference a little dog would make. Plus, the dog was her idea. She even named him.

I was pretty upset when the car hit Oscar. It didn’t even stop to see if he was all right. I didn’t cry though. I just sat down next to him and patted his head and talked to him. He was very still. His clumsy legs all pointing in wrong directions. I apologized to Mum when she found us sitting in the gutter together. I thought I must have been in big trouble but it turns out they were just worried about me being depressed because the dog was dead. I guess it was pretty sad. At least I knew what happened to him though. He got hit by a car. I saw it. No explanation necessary. Not that I got one anyway.

When we went back to the colourful talking doctor I’d already heard all of his questions and I realized that he wasn’t really all that interested in me. I think it just seemed that way the first time because his questions were new. I gave him all the answers and the whole ordeal was over rather quickly. He said to Mum that I was depressed and gave her some new pills. I don’t really like them. I didn’t even get any jelly beans.

Everyone was really nice to me when we got home from the doctor. That was nice. To be honest I think they were just worried that I’d go and do what Stevie had done. Like I was going to follow in my big brothers footsteps. It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem they said. But I’m just a kid. I miss my brother. All I wanted was an explanation. I just didn’t understand. I still don’t. All he had was this sad, pained look on his face. There was no explanation.

It’s not like I care about my stupid brother anyway.

TLH

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