The golden bars swayed as Mabel and May jumped from side to side of the cage. It
was suspended in the air quite high in order to keep Liz and Quinn from reaching them, though
Jay was sure Liz could if she tried hard enough.
Every time the birds forced their body weight against the harsh bars that kept them
trapped, Jay couldn’t help thinking of the poems he’d read in school - poems about caged
birds and how happy they would be to escape those cages. How they beat their wings against
the bars to the point they bled. Jay’s birds didn’t do that and he knew that the poems were all
metaphors for something else, but they could be taken quite literally as well.
Why were they caged? What was the point of having caged birds when they were so
unhappy? It was so that they could entertain, making their melancholy tunes in the back-
ground - which were really pleas to set them free. It was so that they could be shown off as
Jay’s parents had done on numerous occasions such as at the parties where the birds be-
came so uncomfortable with the loud music. It was so that the cats, Liz and Quinn, would
have something to amuse them as they attempted to pounce at the cage.
To Jay though, they were just what any other pet was to him, companions. When he
was sad or bored or angry it would always calm him down to sit close to the cage and try
watching them without frightening them. However, they didn’t enjoy his presence even when
he was so quiet and still they barely noticed him, for they were far past trusting any humans.
At this moment they were also holding the purpose of entertaining the cats like Liz, who
Jay was holding tightly in his arms as they watched the birds make their antique cage sway.
Every once and a while, Jay would tighten his grip on Liz as she tried to get free from him and
pounce at the birds.
He didn’t understand what it was about animals, such as his cats, who had been do-
mestic their entire lives, that made them so violent. He supposed it was just instinctual for ani-
mals to act this way, though he’d always viewed them as symbols of peace, much gentler and
kinder than humans: humans who start wars and kill millions; humans who pick on each other
and put one another down; humans like Jay’s father, a wealthy business man who fired those
in need of work so easily without even wondering why his boss ordered him to do so; humans
like Jay’s mother who formed childish cliques at parties and made other adult women look like
fools. Jay just didn’t understand it.