more. Hoping to encourage new paper changes, Nimbus would shower her
cage lining with water from the container and dance in the birdseed, scatter-
ing husks everywhere. Zephyr found this to be great fun and redoubled her
mischief-making. “I’m supporting your education, Nim!” she’d say, yanking
out one of Luna’s feathers.
Luna pretended to be above it all. She huffed and hooted with indignity.
“Birds we may be,” she scolded, “but birds we shall also remain. We are safe
and well fed in this habitat, and I shudder to think of the trials and tribulations
lying in wait outside.”
Though Luna and Zephyr never learned to read, Nimbus read to them.
Luna loved the principle of long and important-sounding words. Zephyr liked
“Coming in from the outfield... ,” she would screech while flying madly
about the cage, “... the five-time world champion.. .” Zoom! “... tourna-
ment cup winning.. .” Zoom! “... all-starrrr quarterbaaaaaack makes aaaa
“The world. Out there.” Nimbus loved the sound of the words. As she
began to speak, Zephyr fluttered from the coconut down to her favorite
spot—sandwiched between Nimbus and Luna.
Nimbus talked of air that moved, of different temperatures in the sky, of
swirling clouds, of trees, and nights filled with stars.
“I wish I could go,” Zephyr whispered.
“I would take us all if I could!” Nimbus promised.
As was often the case, Luna was cautious. “The world out there is big, and
we know very little. What we do know comes from words, which aren’t a part
of nature, and only one of us understands them. We are safe and comfortable
here. Be grateful.” She shuffled on her perch as if settling down forever.
“But are we happy?” Zephyr asked.
Nimbus’s brain didn’t know the answer to that question, but her heart
did. Only, how do you share what there are no words for? She knew the
best chance they would have “out there” was together. They were a team
of brave, brain, and caution. And they loved each other. Alone was not
It didn’t matter anyway. Without the ability to escape, they would never
have the choice of leaving. So Nimbus continued to read and to listen, hoping
one day she would discover the words that described the thought in her heart.