Infidelity with a Larger Species


by Mary Portser

He was waiting for her in the bookcase. When she opened the Venetian blinds she heard it�the soft cry, like a kitten's. On the bottom shelf, between An Actor Prepares and The Horse Whisperer, a claw and part of a leg slid in, then out of view. She sat on the floor and peered through the gap between the books.

Against the back, on a bed of finely shredded nylon–pantyhose, filched from her underwear drawer—crouched her parrot, Freddie, eyes pinning–pupils dilating and contracting in rapid succession.

Like clockwork. Only this morning she'd noticed in her calendar it was the first day of  spring. Mating season. Freddie purred and tilted his head. He extended his leg toward her again. Gone were the days of calling her "slut" or "whore," for cheating on him with the "big creatures." Now she was one thing only–love object.

"I wish I could shrink myself and join you." She rested her elbows on the edge of the shelf and hunched her shoulders so their heads were even. He inched forward, off his nest, irises vibrating. She scratched his chest. His lids fluttered shut in ecstasy. "You're so easy to be with and you never ask embarrassing questions."

The parrot mounted a copy of Doctor Doolittle. When she stood up he attached himself to a besandaled foot. She met his amorous gaze. 

"I have an appointment."

But he just gripped a strap of her sandal and began to roll his hard, dry tongue across the surface of her big toe. With great delicacy he inserted his beak into her nail bed and pulled up the cuticle.  Would this intimacy ever be possible with a man? On her last visit to her dentist, a guy with such velvety fingers that even stuffing her mouth with cotton rolls seemed sensuous, she'd noticed a chunk of filling in his hair, just over his left ear. But when she reached up to pluck it out, he'd jumped back and called for the nurse. What had she done wrong? She'd need a new dentist.

Having whisked the cuticles from the remaining toes and ground down a small callous on the side of her little one, Freddie hopped onto the other foot. "Could you finish later?" But once more his tongue was sandpapering her toes. The sensation was slightly ticklish. She started to slide her foot toward the door, but a gentle jab of his beak stopped her. She watched his head, which shook vigorously to detach a stubborn piece of epidermis. If I were really a good person, I'd find you a mate of your own species, wouldn't I? She thought of it every time she heard the wild parrots chattering in the palms overhead. Would he be happier up there, with his own kind? The idea was unbearable. She leaned over to stroke the baby blue feathers on his forehead, the ones that identified him as a Blue Front, from Brazil. A cup of coffee with a man. Why did it feel like infidelity?

 "We'll watch TheEmerald Forest later." Their favorite movie. When the Indians ran through the rainforest, she would go into a fevered dance while Freddie flew the perimeters of the apartment, wailing the loud mournful call of a jungle bird, suffering with the tribe for the loss of their habitat.

His cries followed to the car, the coffee shop, and, much later, the big creature's apartment.




BIO: As a playwright Mary has won the “Otis Guernsey New Voices in Playwriting Award” and had plays produced in Dublin, Los Angeles, and New York. Wrecked  was recently developed at the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference and has had readings across the country. Mary is also an actress and works in theater, film and television. She wrote and performed with the Paranoids, a comedy group, for eight years.