“Get the bloody thing off the work top, for Christ sakes Eddie, GERMS! Those thing carry germs.” She swiped her keys off the table and threw the tea towel at Solar. She's too clever and moves to the side as if mocking her. The door clunks shut, I sigh.
If I had a quid every time the stupid cow said the word germs, my number seven red-bus, rusty old money tin would be chocca. It isn’t though, chocca, it rattles with the meagre two pound coins. No where near enough to get my solar a companion. Rain is hitting the windows hard and solar is pecking at the rain drops as they slide down the window. My mother hates Solar. I don’t know why? She is beautiful and the cleverest Magpie in the world.
My mum's umbrella is inside out and she is fighting the wind, the wind is definitley winning, it has her dress pinned up around her ears and the umbrella is off down the street smacking into dustbins that are out for collection and scratching cars. Solar stares at me as I laugh. Mr Johnson from number 42 looks happy, my mums knickers are red and over black tights she look like superman. He is trying to put the key in his car door but cant find the hole, my mums knickers seem to be of more interest. He sees me and quickly gets in his Volvo. My mum smooths down her dress and trots off to the bus stop and jumps on the No7 as her silk scarf flies up and away with the wind.
I found her when she was so small she sat in my palm with a broken wing. I used a lollipop stick and cello tape to stick it back together. It worked. Mum didn’t expect her to get better. Though it might teach me a lesson about death. No, in-fact it taught me, all things are of equal value. Birds , humans, animals, nature and that if you care and help it gives you a sense of pride. All of it has a purpose.
Solar lived in my airing cupboard with Egyptian cotton sheets and pillow cases,towels and a saucer of milk and bread, I used to sneak worms in and at night I would take her out and let her hop around my floor. She quickly learned to hop up and sit on my bedpost where she could see out of the window.
My mum calls me a smart arse. I read, I read all about magpies and how to look after them. Omnivorous, Solar eats beetles, spiders, flies, worms and caterpillars, she also likes berries and fruit. When she is really hungry she like to steel eggs particularly songbirds eggs or their chicks. If I let her out that is and I do and she always comes home. She has never stolen anything shiny, but she did bring home a piece of red silk once, I keep it in her nest in the corner my window sill.
My friends think I'm mad, keeping a bird in my room. My mum opens the window every morning hoping she will fly away and never come back, I hear her shooing Solar when I walk to get the school bus, It makes me laugh, I know how smart she is and that she will give my mum the run around.
I know she will hop from post, to desk, to chair, to window and then repeat in reverse order until my mum is flaring her nostrils. When my mum shouts:
“GET OUT!” That's when solar flies off. She always returns, every day I let her in at 4 O clock. Today I have no school and Aunty Lizzie will be here in ten minutes, she loves Solar and will bring her a treat, then she will will make breakfast and then she will take me to the park. Solar always comes with us, she flies and usually gets there before us. She waits on the post at the gate then flies up to the tree, where she hangs out with other Magpies and they chatter so loud, I have to cover my ears. I know she watches my every move, I can tell her from the others, her wings are different lengths. I think that's my fault.
Lizzie is coming up the path, her red frizzy hair has blown up off her face like a stack of candy floss up in a Marge Simpson wind-held bouffant. Her eyes are shut tight as the gale is blowing up dust and twigs. She is leaning forward, dancing against the wind, her red coat flying behind her like a cape, Her umbrella a mass of snapped metal and flapping material. Her cheeks are rosy and wobbling. She pounds the door with both fists. I let her in with leaves and crisp packets. She shakes like a dog sprinking me with drops of cold rain.
“Oh good lord Eddie , what a blowy old day it is out there.” She rubs Solar under the chin and she instantly hop onto her shoulder.
“Don't you worry now Solar Pear, In have a special treat for you, so I do.” She likes to make things into two words to rhyme with something – solar pear = Polar bear. A maple leaf is stuck to her head and she has no idea that her hair is still on end and twig littered. Solar pecks at it.
“It's wee bit blustery today Eddie eh?” she pats her face on both cheeks trying to restore colour.
“Cat got your tongue , you wee snippet?”
“You have twigs in your hair Aunt Lizzie.” I say and giggle, solar jumps on my shoulder then back to Lizzie.
“I think she wants her treat?”
“ So she does.” She takes a white cloth out of her bag and unwraps a small square of garden turf, ten cm's squared. She lays it on the tablet and takes out a small circular Tupperware, I can see black things moving inside. As she pops the lid worms wiggles and beetles scuttle and caterpillars arch. She sprinkles them onto the turf and lowers her shoulder for Solar to hop down.
“Wow, Lizzie that’s the best one yet!”
I hug Aunt Lizzie, she understands how much I love Solar.
“I don’t think we should go out today Thomas, it's dangerous, I almost lost my head out there this morning so I did.”
“We'll have to read or find a film to watch, Will you let Solar out, She might get blown away?”
“She'll be fine, Ill let her out upstairs after her treat.”