The Dust Bunnies
Jessica’s parakeet vanished a week after the vacuum cleaner broke, but her parents just could not see the connection. Mom and dad, sure that Sunny had either escaped out of her bedroom window (the one Jess was always being warned to keep closed), or had been killed and eaten by Snowshoe, the family cat, didnâ€™t bother to conduct much of an investigation. She even gave up protesting after she started to see that look daddy gets in his eye, just like the time Snowshoe broke the cookie jar and no one would believe that it wasnâ€™t her. She could see they were thinking she took the bird out of the cage and it got away from her and flew out the window.
But Jess knew better. She was the only one to hear the fight Sunny was putting up that night, the fearful screeching and the frantic beating of its wings against the cage. She was the first one to see the cage, like the swinging thing in the grandfather clock by the front door, rocking back and forth on the creaking metal chain that hung from a hook in the roofbeam. Birdseed had been spilled everywhere on the hardwood floor, and water, and nothing more. There was no trace of Sunny, not a feather, not a sound.
And the cage door was latched. Tight.
Reaching out with both hands, Jess grabbed the cage to steady it, and looking down into the bottom of the cage, she saw the shredded newspaper. Newspaper she had folded flat and smooth into the cage that morning. Looking closer to the torn newsprint, the edges of the jagged strips look like… bite marks? Reaching up, she opened the cage door and tried to reach in to grab a piece. It was then she jerked around as she heard her mom heading up the stairs.
â€œJessica? Are you okay?â€
She let go of the cage quickly and it started swinging again in a slow arc. But just as she let go, something glinted in the torn paper at the bottom of the cage, something small and shiny, like a tiny marble.