My eyes follow the pattern of squares in the waiting room floor: two gray, two beige, one white. Next line: three beige, two white, one gray. Repeat: two gray, two beige, one white…
A loud “squaaawk” distracts me. “It’s okay, Daisy,” coos the lady sitting in a corner chair. She gently pats the wire cage on her lap. The bird inside, head cocked at an angle, glares in response, then ruffles her all-white feathers.
Pop leans over to me and whispers, “What kind of bird is that?”
“Cockatoo,” I mumble. All the crying has sapped my energy, even for small talk.
I stare at a poster on the opposite wall, “Guide to Purebred Dogs.” Underneath it, hangs a rack of magazines: “Dog Fancy,” “Cat Fancy,” and “Healthy Pet.” An aquarium with a gerbil curled up in the corner sits on a low table. A card taped to the glass says: “Hi, I’m Zoro! Adopt me!” Across the room, another card hangs from the receptionist’s computer monitor: “Doctor will be with you in a minute. Sit. Stay.” It’s cute, but I don’t smile. We’ve been waiting way longer than a minute. I check my watch. Exactly sixty-four minutes longer. My knee bounces up and down at high speed.
At last, the receptionist calls my name. I get up and head for the examination room; Pop follows a little way behind, his arthritis slowing him down. “Cockatoo, eh?” he says.
The doctor welcomes us in with his professional smile: warm, soothing, yet solemn. This isn’t a happy occasion. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” he says. I smile back and shrug. Pop’s eyes are starting to tear again. “Okay. Let’s get him on the table.”
We don’t discuss -- we all know the decision’s made. Now, it’s not if, not when: just do it. Pop’s gaze wanders around the room; he doesn’t want to watch.
“This won’t take long, don’t worry.” The doctor shaves a leg and locates a vein. My heart beats faster. Is this really the right thing to do? Memories of when I was younger flood in; of long walks and endless games of ball and swimming in the pond.
The needle goes in. Outside the room, another squawk. “What kind of bird is that?” Pop asks as his eyes slowly close and his body goes soft.
“A cockatoo,” I say. I might get one, now that the house is mine.
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: ril