Early one Tuesday morning, perched on the small, wooden bar of her cage in J&J’s Pet Store, a Canary named Lila was rocking backwards and forwards while having a spectacular dream. While in the deepest part of her sleep, the fluorescent lights lining the roof of the store came on, waking her up and putting her in a less-than-good mood. The one responsible for both turning on the lights and, consequently, Lila’s mood was long-time pet-shop employee Benjamin Hartley.
For the past five years, Benjamin had dedicated his working life to the pet store; Never missing a day of work, greeting every customer with memorable enthusiasm and, every morning, making sure that the animals in the store were fed. For these reasons, Benjamin was confident he was about to be promoted by the owners to a role he had only ever dreamed about: Manager. After feeding some biscuits and meat to the three kittens and some crickets to the five hermit crabs, Benjamin collected a small container and made his way over to Lila’s cage.
Lila tilted her head as Benjamin place the container labelled, FOOD, into his mouth. Being a canary, all she could do was stare as Benjamin continued to wage an aggressive attack on the thin, metal bars of her cage until they succumbed to his constant and forceful wiggling. She almost took pity on Benjamin as he fumbled around, trying to keep a hold of the containers while her cage door was wide open. Despite her feelings, Lila took this opportunity to fly straight out of her cage and into the freedom of J&J’s Pet Store.
Benjamin was forced to arch his back to keep his eyes on Lila as she zoomed past overhead. He dropped the containers, barely noticing the water spilling on his feet in the process. Lila flew directly over to the kittens’ home, landing with a flutter on their roof. Benjamin struggled to remain calm, but, as it was early, the front doors of the store were not yet unlocked, so there was no need to completely panic. Attempting to catch the bird off guard, Benjamin dashed towards the kittens’ cage, accidentally knocking over some of the towers made out of boxes of cat food along the way. Lila deliberately waited for Benjamin to get close before mocking his attempts to catch her and flying away at the last second. She was now perched on the cash register at the front of the store. Benjamin was glaring at the bird from across the aisles, when, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the owners, Jill and James Mahoney, getting their keys out to unlock the front door.
Benjamin tried to warn the owners by calling out while running towards the doors, but, this time, Lila didn’t wait for Benjamin to be closet her. Sensing the breeze from outside, she pushed herself off of the register and, in a flutter of spins and wing flaps, escaped J&J’s Pet Store. Jill and James’ jaws dropped as they looked around their store, thinking about how much they were all going to have to work to get the store ready for the day. They shook their heads as Benjamin skulked towards them. Because he was such a loyal employee, however, Jill and James found it difficult to be mad at Benjamin for any serious length of time and gave him a long, reassuring hug.
“Don’t worry, Mister!” James said as he ruffled Benjamin’s orange coat and placed him back inside of his favourite cage. “We’ll still make you manager one day.”
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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