The Bread Hell and Other Stories
“Hello,” the pigeon said.
A talking pigeon. On an AC unit. Well, it’s not a bad landing spot, I guess. Not that it explains a talking pigeon.
“Hello,” I said. It would be rude not to answer, wouldn’t it? And there wasn’t anyone else around, so it’s not like someone would make a call to the nearest asylum.
“I wanted to talk to you about something,” the pigeon said.
“Not about our Lord and Savior, I hope.”
“Isn’t it how the joke goes? An animal knocks on the door or grabs a human or something, and wants to talk about their preferred deity?”
“Oh. Those jokes. I never understood them. Why would any animal want to talk about a deity made up by humans?”
“Err… Because humans think that animals believe in the deities made up by humans, I guess?”
“It doesn’t make sense.”
“Humans often don’t make sense, I’m afraid.”
“That is true. And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Oh? Do you study humans?”
“Not really. Why would I?”
“Oh, all right. So, what did you want to talk about?”
“The food. Humans give us food sometimes, but most of the time, it’s white bread.”
“I know that bread is bad for pigeons. Grains and seeds are much better, right?”
“Yes. And many other humans seem to know it, and talk about it to each other, but then they give us bread anyway. If they wanted to hurt us, I’d understand, but they seem to believe that they’re doing something good for us. And we tend to eat everything that looks like food without thinking about it first, and then we get hurt.”
“Well, like I said, humans often don’t make sense.”
“So, this behavior doesn’t make sense to you either, even though you’re human?”
“No, it doesn’t. I mean, I can guess what their reason is, some might not know just how bad bread is, or they might think that it’s still better than nothing, or, they know it’s bad, but they dismiss it, like they dismiss the fact that they shouldn’t sit all day. It doesn’t make sense, it’s just how humans act sometimes.”
“All right. And do you think that they could change that behavior? Could you advise them, perhaps?”
“I can advise a few, but they probably won’t listen. Or they will thank me, and just keep doing it. Or they’ll get angry at me for lecturing them.”
“I see. Would you be willing to try, anyway, and we can see how it goes before we proceed with something that will be more convincing?”
“What would that be?”
“Do you remember the old story about Cinderella, and what happened to her stepsisters?”
“Pigeons took their eyes out?”
“Yes. There’s also the Bread Hell.”
“Let’s just say that it’s worse than what happened to the stepsisters.”
“Sounds like something that’s made up, just like Cinderella.”
“Most of the Cinderella story wasn’t made up. The pigeon part certainly wasn’t.”
“And the Bread Hell?”
“Are you sure you want to find out?”
“Well, not really…”
Our conversation was interrupted by a blur of calico fur.
I completely forgot that she was sleeping on the couch.
Well, that pigeon will never have trouble with bread again.
Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be easier for them to check their food before just eating it? Surely it’s less work than taking everyone’s eyes out?
What a silly thing.
“You silly thing,” she said affectionately. “Why would you listen to their nonsense? The Bread Hell, really…”
“And the stepsisters?”
“They were mean to cats. There was no reason for us to help them.”
In case you were wondering: I was looking through some photos I took, and the story basically jumped at me.