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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: Rosie Defamed
By Betty Castleberry


Gruff words assaulted Rosie, and fat fingers poked through the bars of her cage. She shook with fear when people jabbed at her. Her cage was her sanctuary, and intrusions were not welcome.

Rosie thrust her beak toward the offending digits. The calloused hand with the fat fingers retreated, and Rosie relaxed. She heard the word “mean” again. The people that leaned in close to her cage often used that word.

The man who worked in the pet shop frightened her, but she depended on him. Rosie eyed the fruit, nuts, and plump seeds he was putting in the smaller birds’ dishes. She danced on her perch and bobbed her head, anxiously awaiting her turn.

When he got to her cage, he put one peanut in her dish. “You’ve been a bad girl today. This is all you get.”

Rosie climbed down and perched on the edge of the filthy dish. The peanut was buried in seed hulls and nut shells. She retrieved her prize and raked her beak through the debris, hoping to find more food. When she didn’t find anything else, she went to her water dish. It was almost empty, and the small amount remaining was slimy. She filled her beak with the foul water, tipped her head back, and drank.

A lady and young girl approached her cage. The girl pointed. “Look Mom. The sign says this bird bites.”

“Stay back, then.”

The girl made faces at Rosie. “I don’t like you. You’re mean.”

Rosie kept her eyes on them as they walked away.

Rock music started to play. The rhythm and singing intrigued Rosie. She swayed back and forth, enjoying the sounds. When the singing reached a crescendo, Rosie joined in, yelling at the top of her lungs.

The man who frightened her pounded on the cage bars. “Shut up, you stupid bird. You’re giving me a headache.”

Rosie flapped her wings in panic, and fell to the bottom of her cage. She landed in a pile of her own waste. Greenish smears soiled her beautiful feathers.

The man glared at her. “Serves you right.”

He took one last slap at the bars, and Rosie leaned forward, her beak open to bite.

When he walked away, she climbed to her highest perch for refuge. She tucked her head under one wing and closed her eyes. She was just drifting off to sleep when she heard a soft voice.

Rosie looked up and saw a lady standing by her cage. The lady’s voice was soothing and sweet.

She kept her hands behind her back and smiled. “Hi pretty bird. What’s your name?”

This was not what Rosie expected. Her black eyes narrowed, then widened in wonder as she edged toward the front of the cage.

“It’s okay, sweet birdie.”

The man who frightened Rosie addressed the lady. “May I help you?”

“Yes. I’m interested in that parrot.”

The man shook his head. “Rosie? She’s mean as they come. She bites and screams, and the only talking I’ve ever heard out of her is a couple of cuss words.”

“I’d like to see her just the same.”

“Sure, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

He opened Rosie’s cage and stuck his beefy hand inside. Rosie lunged. “Stop it. Somebody wants to see you.” Rosie lunged again.

The lady intervened. “Do you mind if I try?”

He shrugged. “They’re your fingers.”

She faced Rosie. “Hi Rosie, it’s all right. I won’t hurt you. You’re such a pretty girl. Would you like to come out so I can see you better?”

Rosie listened intently. The melodic voice fascinated her.

Very slowly, a slender hand inched its way towards the cage door, but stopped short of reaching inside. Rosie wasn’t afraid.

“Rosie, I like you a lot. You can come out and hop right up on my hand if you want to.”

On cue, Rosie stepped onto the hand, and the lady laughed. Rosie liked the bubbly sound.

The man who frightened Rosie raised his eyebrows. “Well, that‘s a miracle. Nobody can handle her. I’m shocked.”

“I have parrots at home. I’ll take her and give her some TLC. I also want to warn you that I am going to report you and everyone involved here for animal cruelty.”

His eyebrows shot up again. For the second time in a matter of seconds, the man who frightened Rosie was stunned.

~The large parrots have the intelligence of a 2-4 year old human toddler. They need love, respect, and mental stimulation. About half end up abused or neglected, even in pet shops, because of the level of care they require.

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This article has been read 1142 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Germain 09/13/07
This touching and insightful story is so beautifully written. Many animals (and humans as well) get bad reputations for the responses they are programmed to give through ill treatment. I think you could write a whole book about Miss Rosie's adventures...especially after she was rescued. Makes me want a parrot. LOVED IT!
Gary Troutman09/13/07
Very nice.
Labels hurt!
- The girl made faces at Rosie. “I don’t like you. You’re mean.”
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/13/07
The parrot's feelings were so clear, I felt like I might even let her sit on my hand. A good story.
Loren T. Lowery09/13/07
Thank-you for the insights into the hearts and minds of these (and other) innocent animals.
Joanne Sher 09/14/07
Gee - I wonder who wrote this? ;) I love this "bird's-eye-view" (ughhhh!) - you did an amazing job of getting us inside Rosie's head. This touched me.
Sherry Wendling09/14/07
Extremely satisfying piece--I love your lady "parrot-whisperer" with a mission!
Grover Gall09/15/07
Right ON!

We currently have 11 parrots.
Jan Ackerson 09/17/07
I'll admit it--I'm not much of a fan of birds--but this story touched me. I read it as a metaphor for God's love for the unloveable, and I found it moving and full of grace.
Patricia Todd09/17/07
This piece of writing held my attention right the way through.
Helen Murray09/17/07
Yes, Yes, Yes.
Patty Wysong09/17/07
Not only did you help us understand parrots and their needs, but you taught us about how to approach and handle them. Wonderful. Using Rosie's perspective was great. :-)
Sharlyn Guthrie09/17/07
There are lessons here for dealing with people as well as parrots. I felt so sorry for Rosie. Glad this story had a happy ending.
Dianne Janak09/18/07
The title caught my eye, because of Rosie O. in the news lately, and was really excited it did. What a wonderful story. I was so hoping that it ended well, and YES.. the end was the beginning. How true of animals and people...if we can just take the time and love to get beneath the hard exteriors, there is gold! Thanks so much for this.. a real treat!
Jacquelyn Horne09/19/07
TLC works every time. God told us that "love covereth a multitude of sin" (scripture?).
Beth LaBuff 09/19/07
You write as if you had first hand knowledge of these birds. :) I enjoyed Rosie's story and I learned something about the intelligence of these birds.
Janice Cartwright09/19/07
Almost nothing gets my dander up faster than cruelty to animals. You got me on Rosie's side from the start even though she was a biter and made me want to throttle the pet-store owner. We have had a spate of animal-torture stories in our local paper and it just wrings my heart. I'm so, so glad you gave this one a happy ending.
Lenda Blackmon09/20/07
I am so glad I read this. I felt sorry for Rosie, no I had empathy for Rosie right away. I almost cried. It's not fun when people think badly of you whether you are an animal or human. You are an awesome writer and I mean that! God has truly blessed you.