Clara’s Yard

Clara was laying on the same sofa she always did.  What made the sofa nice wasn’t the view of the well-kept backyard, or the sunlight leaking in through the window which gently warmed her resting body.  What she loved was that it was in the family room.  The house was just her and Archie, but to Clara that was enough of a family.
    Her slender, smooth-haired tail softly flicked as she yawned.  Her lazing was very restful, but it was nice to change position every once in a while to ensure a fulfilling sleep.  Clara’s feline ear twitched and turned towards the hallway as she heard Archie’s voice, along with heavy shuffling.  He came into the room from the hallway, carrying something that looked a bit like an especially tall coat rack.  She groaned, a bit miffed that he was disturbing her sleep, but he didn’t seem to notice.  She closed her eyes once more, and heard the door to the backyard being opened.  Whatever he was doing, it wouldn’t be anything to be concerned with.
    She woke up to chirping.  She’d never gone into the backyard much, but being a feline as she was, it was enough to deter most birds.  They occasionally would stop in the backyard, rest on a branch for a short time, and then leave.  She’d watch them to pass the time, but she never saw more than one in the backyard at once, and they certainly weren’t so loud.  She’d have to head out there and get them to be quiet.
    She lazily looked out the sunlit window to see where the offending bird was, and was immensely surprised to see not one, but more than twenty birds.  Clara nearly fell off the couch as she scrambled to get to the back door.  She opened it up and ran outside loudly mewling and hissing to scare away all of the birds.  They scattered, flying off into the rest of the neighborhood.  Once they were gone, Clara let out a short groan of displeasure and looked up at what she’d thought was a coat hanger.
    From it hung several small tubes full of different seeds and nuts.  Archie had brought home a bird feeder, and set it up in the backyard!  Furious she ran into the study, where Archie was working.  “Archie!” She called with a hint of irritation in her voice.  He quickly looked up from his papers, bewildered.
    “What-” he said, panicked. “Is there a problem?”
    “Yeah, Archie.  There’s a problem!  There’s a lotta birds in my yard!” Clara whined. As she said it she realized that despite how she looked over it every day, she had never before considered the back ‘Her yard.’
    Archie relaxed.  “Oh, right.  That.  I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I’ve been looking at the yard recently, and nice as the garden is, it just feels so empty, you know?”
    Clara pouted.  “Did ya ever think that maybe I liked it that way?”
    Archie rubbed the back of his neck as he responded, “Well listen, Clara.  I think a little more color around here wouldn’t hurt.  Just give it a few days.  I’m sure you’ll get used to it.”
    Angry, Clara stormed off to the front room.  With no sun coming through the windows, it was colder, but at the moment she didn’t care.  She could already hear more chirping coming in from the back, and she wanted nothing to do with it.  When Archie saw her away from her favorite place, he was sure to realize he’d made a mistake, and move that evil bird feeder away.
    It took far too long for her to get settled in on the smaller couches in the front room, and her sleep wasn’t particularly soft.  Luckily, she’d heard Archie get up, and she was certain he’d already be heading to the back yard to get rid of that thing.  Unfortunately, when she woke up, she could still pick out the chirping of finches, pigeons, doves, and other annoying intruders.
    Just under the chirping, she could hear Archie’s voice.  Perhaps he was talking to himself, realizing the flaw in his actions.  Just to be sure, Clara figured she should get up and check on him.  The closer she got to the backyard, though, the louder the annoying chirping was, and the louder she heard not just Archie, but another voice.  Clara rationalized it as the person who was going to remove the bird feeder, and went back to her protest sleeping in the front room.  Who cares how many people it takes to remove a bird feeder.
    Clara once more awoke, this time not to so much chirping, but to Archie.  He sat down on the couch next to her, and she started purring softly.  “Glad you’re getting used to things!” he praised.  Her purring stopped immediately as she looked up at him.  “Why don’t you come bird watching with me?”  He offered.  Offended, Clara jumped up off the couch with a short hiss, and ran into his bedroom, locking herself inside.
    Archie went after her, pounding on the door.  “Was it something I said?” he asked, concerned.  Clara simply hissed once more at the door, making clear her displeasure, and curled up on his bed with one of his pillows.  After a few minutes Archie stopped trying to open the door, and settled for being locked out of his own room.  Content that she had won, Clara relaxed.  She had almost managed to tune out the sound of chirping from the windows of his room, which also looked out over the yard.
    When the door to the backyard opened however, it piqued her curiosity.  She wanted to see what he was doing in the yard, since he apparently still hadn’t gotten rid of the bird feeder.  She looked out the bedroom windows on to the backyard, and saw not just finches and pigeons, but elegant winged ladies.  Their mottled wingspans stretched several feet, and their tufts of feathers covered little.  It was no surprise that they’re what she saw Archie’s eyes fixed on.  He didn’t seem interested in approaching any of them though, merely watching contentedly.
    Still it pissed her off greatly, and Clara decided to keep him out of his room for a while longer.  So she kept that door locked, despite his protests for the next few days.  Still, he seemed to be getting along without the room, and she was getting awfully hungry.  Occasionally he’d leave the house, and she’d sneak out of the room for a snack, but she couldn’t keep it up forever.  She did notice a pattern however.  Each morning she’d hear the backdoor open early, when she was only half-asleep.
    She’d go to the window and her tail would swish back and forth as she looked out.  He would always be talking with the same feathered girl.  The backs of her feathers were mainly a soft grey, with large, darker, nearly black spots marking their tips.  What stood out most was the tufts on the front and the long smooth feathers on the top of her head, which were vibrant soft tan, almost auburn.
    She had very smooth and refined features, which deeply contrasted with her manner.  Each morning she’d be the first to arrive in the yard, and she’d seek out all the sunflower seeds that had fallen around, which she’d pick up and eat by the clawful.  Her breasts weren’t big, but they were larger than Clara’s and she was less than modest with them when she would frolic around the yard picking up seeds.  Each morning she would be interrupted by Archie, who would start up some conversation.  It looked annoyingly pleasant.
    Clara couldn’t take it anymore.  She was hungry, and she’d had enough of that bird feeder, and what it had done to her formerly satisfying life.  She ran out of Archie’s bedroom and towards the back door.  She threw open the back door, rattling the inset glass and very nearly shattering it.  That got Archie’s attention, and he whipped around to face her, but she had already pounced.
    She sank her teeth into a very confused and frightened girl, who was more flubbering and floundering than screaming or struggling.
Clara vaguely heard Archie yelling in the background as she continued to bite into the feathered wing of the harpy girl.  She felt Archie grab her and try to pull her off as the harpy girl finally tried to start flapping.  
    The aggressive wingbeats finally made Clara lose her grip, but not before she heard a sharp snap.  As the harpy took off, Clara was busy flailing and scratching at Archie, who was handily holding her down.  In the corner of her vision, she made out the harpy struggling to fly with an increasing angle only a few feet off the ground.  She inevitably turned around and fell with a rather hard landing right back into their yard.
    Clara angrily mewled at Archie as he got up and ran to the harpy’s aid.  One of her pristine wings was bleeding and hanging limp as he led her into the house.  It was only when she tried the door that Clara realized Archie had just locked her out.  Furious, she hissed and scratched at the door, to no avail, then ran to the bird feeder and knocked it down.
    It was a few hours of chasing more and more birds away when Archie finally opened the door again.  She nearly tackled him on her way in.
    “Archie~!” she pleaded, “Why do you love birds more than me~!”
    Rather than answer her, Archie pointed to the sofa, where sitting in Clara’s favorite spot, was that same smooth harpy with bandages on her wing.  “This is Olive.” He simply stated. “She’ll be staying with us until her wing heals up.”

    Incredulous, Clara stared at this pretty intruder.  Before she could get over there, Archie held her back.

   “This is your fault, Clara.  Olive is only staying because she has nowhere else to go, after you broke her wing.”

   “But- But I wouldn’ta had to if you’d not put in that stupid feeder!”
    “I just wanted the Garden to be more lively.” Archie responded. “I didn’t think you’d try to do that!”

   “Well this is what ‘Lively’ looks like!” Clara retorted with anger. “You gotta cat who watches the yard all day!  Whatd’ya think was gonna happen!”    Olive raised her uninjured wing and stopped the pair’s argument. “I’m sorry, I think we got off on the wrong foot~” she said in a softly musical voice. Clara was confused, to say the least.

 “Whaddya mean, ‘Wrong foot’ ya pigeon?” She shot back.

    “Well, I was having an awfully nice time talking to Archibald, and I was too surprised when you came out to give me a hug, so I got my wing all in the way.”

    Clara looked at Archie, who shrugged.  Clearly he didn’t expect the misunderstanding either.  Was she really that naive?  Doubting it, Clara asked, “Hug?”

    Olive gave her the warmest smile, enhanced by the sunlight radiating through the window behind her, and said “I would have hugged you back, but I sort of panicked.  It was awfully surprising.” She tried to assure Clara.

    Clara couldn’t believe it.  This harpy was completely unaware that she had almost become a meal.  She tried to come up with a response, but couldn’t think of anything.  Instead she turned to Archie, and stated, “I’m still angry with you.  No more bird feeder!”  She then returned to Archie’s room, hijacking it once more.

    As the days with Olive passed, Clara slowly became more and more open with her.  The girl was incredibly naive, but undeniably kind.  Locking herself in Archie’s room had gotten old anyways, and Archie had actually put away the bird feeder after all, so Clara only had the one feathered creature to deal with.  Clara returned to her old spot on the sofa, making sure to stay there every morning, before even Olive woke up, so that she could hog the spot for the entire day.  It wasn’t long before Olive began to join her there anyways, basking in the sunlight, and using the smooth feathers on her good wing as a sort of blanket for Clara, who had to admit it was rather comfortable.

   Clara watched the backyard, and the occasional bird that would now come in, at the original casual rate.  Finally, Olive’s bandages came off.  Clara watched with interest as she flexed her fixed wing, good as new.  The feathers were a little lighter than her other wing, but it didn’t look bad.  Olive stepped out into the yard once more.  “Well, here I go~” she cooed, making a few test flaps before gaining her rhythm and taking off with ease.  She gracefully rose into the sky, and though Clara was happy to be rid of her, she found herself with a heavy heart watching her go.

    As the sun’s rays cast warmth upon her Clara closed her eyes ready for her satisfying life to continue as it should have the entire time.  She was rudely awoken only a few minutes later though, by a very familiar coo.  “They work just marvelously~!” Olive said with pride as she walked in the back door, once more inside Clara’s home.
    Clara’s head and ears perked up with an irritated mewl. “What are you doing back here!  You’re supposed to fly home!” She waved at Olive, shooing her away.

    “Well~” Olive explained, “I flew, and now I’m home!” Clara couldn’t believe it.  Just when she was rid of the singsong intruder, they come right back.  Just as she was about to protest again, Olive put her now healed wing on Clara’s head, and softly started patting Clara’s head.  Too lazy to get up from the couch, Clara found herself involuntarily purring.

    “You should- You- Mrrr.  Maybe you can stay a while.  Long as ya make Archie promise no more bird feedin’.”  Clara conceded.

    Olive nodded happily.  “Glad we can all stay together~!” She said, each word lulling Clara once more into contentedness.  Clara supposed that maybe, just maybe, a family could be three instead of two.

Author’s note:

This was my story for the November Speedwrite.  It did not do well in the contest, so I’m posting it for feedback.  Please let me know in no small number of words what you think about the story, so I can do better next time!

Just criticize as much as you can! (Positive feedback is also allowed.)

11 votes, average: 4.64 out of 511 votes, average: 4.64 out of 511 votes, average: 4.64 out of 511 votes, average: 4.64 out of 511 votes, average: 4.64 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 4.64 out of 5)
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3 thoughts on “Clara’s Yard

  1. I know you’re looking for criticism, but I don’t have much. Only thing I would have liked to see was more development of characters aside from Clara.

    Beyond that, really don’t have issues. Honestly, you may not have gotten many votes because there are some really great writers around here, so competition is stiff. I did enjoy the story though, so thank you for writing it!

    1. You can still check out all the other stories in the Speedwriting contest post on the site’s front page if you want to check out that competition!
      Even if there’s not much to say, thanks for leaving a comment. Any feedback is better than none at all.

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