Her favourite seat is the window bench, next to the wall. The bench is a solid slab of oak; the window, a wall of glass to watch the world outside moving on foot, on skateboards, in cars. Here, around her, the smell of food and coffee melts into the din of brunchers. Above her, a speaker offers the familiar playlist of folk music. Here, she is the eye of the storm, the centre of calm. Everyone else moves for her. Here, there are no distractions, only story cues.
Eric hadn’t expected to be pet-sitting a parrot the day he started his first novel.
‘It’d just be four days,’ his mom had said. ‘No big deal,’ she’d said. Her apartment was dark and cramped, the only table he could write at in the kitchen – the sticky table with cracks in the linoleum top; the kitchen that stank like piss and parrot. The feathered beast that never shut up. Ever since she’d stepped out the door, it’d starting shrieking. Gravel-throated barks,a devil’s siren of ear-piercing single notes repeated for painful minutes on end, angry squawks thrown his way with flashing eyes. He tried to cover the cage, it’d started bashing its head at the cage. He tried to work on her bed, but found his only solace was sleeping.