Black on the balcony

That day, he carried a large open cardboard box into the community in a sad and dismal manner, and all the neighbours in the neighborhood saw him.

As soon as he entered the room, he put down the key and put the cardboard box at the door. He first went to the bathroom to wash his hands, then went to the kitchen for a round. There are only two shallots and a tomato in the refrigerator. Then he sat on the sofa in the living room.

The sound of the second hand of the wall clock turning is exceptionally clear, the same as when he comes home from get off work every day. Usually, he likes to do nothing at this time and just sit and listen to the sound of the second hand, as if performing some kind of bathing ritual to wash away the dust that was full of his heart at the end of the day. On this day, the ceremony took longer than usual—he spent some time thinking about what to do with the contents of the box.

Passing the balcony in the evening, sneaking into the living room quietly, spreading out on the white tiles, so the ground shone like exposure film, with an illusory luster. The plump orange-pink afterglow on the white wall was cut, and one third of the clock was slashed obliquely, turning this mediocre room into a modernist artwork.

He took a breath, as if struggling to get up and walk to the door. He squatted down, put his hands on his knees stiffly, and looked into the box. The wooden shoe cabinet by the door separated him from the glorious dusk, so he hid in this gloomy small space, carefully identifying the appearance of the bird in the box. It is a young mynah with sparse and damp black feathers. Its orange mouth is closed tightly, and its paws are pale pink. It is hidden under its belly-it can’t stand yet, and its eyes are only half. Half-opened, his white eyelids wrinkled like an old man. After looking around, he became more and more at a loss, really don’t know how to deal with this ugly little thing.

This little bird came to his shoe cabinet, which was not what he meant.

He is a native of the city, and he studied history at a university of architectural engineering in a southern city. After graduating, he returned to his hometown and found a job in a local branch of a state-owned enterprise without much effort. Now he has achieved the position of a small person in charge in the administrative department.

As for his leisure life outside of work, it is mainly the wine bar with his friends from high school on weekends. Except for dinner, in this small northern city where there are no natural gifts and a layer of oil is always floating, there is really no other form of entertainment for a youth of his age. He doesn’t patronize movie theaters very much, and thinks that most of the movies on the theater line are the least necessary to watch. The simple and repetitive social approach brought him the most direct comfort to some extent. Helplessly, there will always be unexpected factors.

Two months ago, an old classmate he hadn’t contacted for a long time appeared at a dinner he went to. Now he is the boss of the flower and bird market. He praised the business while he was picking up vegetables. He didn’t expect that this person would immediately promise to give it to He plays with a bird. At that time, he just casually perfunctory, never expected that his old classmate would actually show up at the gate of his community holding a cardboard box. And he is now squatting by the shoe cabinet worrying about it.

He doesn’t like small animals, although it’s not a nuisance. If he goes to a friend’s house and sees a wagging puppy or a lazy and docile kitten, he will tease with joy, touch his head and shake hands, but he has never thought about raising them at home. He is accustomed to avoiding all energy-consuming things as much as he can. He feels that keeping pets is a hassle, as if raising a family and raising children is the same principle-of course you will get some happiness, perhaps a lot of happiness, but at the same time, a lot of His time and mood were also consumed. On the scale on which he measures the value, the former always rises up high, but he also neglects to verify it in practice, and simply put this issue aside and ignored it.

Now this question has been thrown back in front of him inexplicably, forcing him to further examine his judgment. He was immediately upset, wishing to declare his cold truth directly to the world. But this idea was quickly rejected by him for a simple reason: people thought he was kind and amiable, and even took “diligence and taciturn” as an explanation for his long-term singleness. His bachelor status not only did not attract attention, but also seemed to be a With a very precious but regrettable quality, he carefully maintained this tragic character image, never daring to risk exposing his indifferent nature to the gentle gazes around him. In this case, he cannot change the long-standing “misunderstanding” of others because of this insignificant bird.

After some calculations like this, he picked up the box and walked to the balcony. At this time, the evening had already exited, and the sky had turned into a clear ice blue, with no trace of chaos, flat and straightforward. He turned on the light on the balcony, put the box on the ground, but stood and watched for a while, then turned back to the living room.

He scrambled eggs with the remaining tomatoes and shallots, and finished eating to the TV. At the end of the answering contest, and when the urban life episode was about to be broadcast, he turned off the TV and took a cigarette and a lighter to the balcony.

The “balcony time” after dinner is another of his rituals. This period of time is mainly used for smoking, so that he feels that he can relieve the fatigue of the day and sleep well at night. On this day, everything deviated from the usual practice. The corner he is standing on is occupied by a large cardboard box, which makes him have to change to the other side, and there are several pots of tenacious spider plants on the handrail on this side all the year round. He has nowhere to support his arm and is scattered by the handrail. The thin leaves interfered with the sight, and the momentary mood was very bad.

When he finished smoking, he lowered his head to catch a glimpse of the bird with its head hanging down, curled up in the corner of the box. He looked at it for a while, and suddenly thought of something, he walked back to the living room quickly, took a bag from the hanger next to the shoe cabinet, and rummaged in it. The old classmate gave him a small packet of bird food in the afternoon. He couldn’t take it away at that time, so he stuffed it into the bag at will.

This ugly little thing may have been a long time since the last time I ate, that’s why it was so languid. He didn’t want to starve it to death on the first day, so immoral. Although he is always shrouded in the shadow of an escape mentality, he still has the ability to act negatively. In fact, he uses this ability almost all the time. This has become a kind of conditioned mechanical behavior for his maintenance of life.

He came to the balcony with the granular bird food, and his friend’s instructions suddenly sounded in his ears: the chicks still do not have the ability to eat or eat hard food on their own. They must melt the bird food in the water and squeeze it into a soft long Feed it. So he turned back to the kitchen, took out a small bowl that was usually idle, picked up some tap water, and prepared to pour the bird food in. However, a new problem came again, he was not sure how much he should pour to neither starve it nor hold it. He put down the small bowl and bird food, went back to the living room, and searched with his mobile phone. After a good deal of tossing, the food for the uninvited guest is finally ready. His hand holding the bird food stick hung in the air, not knowing how to move further. Unexpectedly, it slowly raised its head, and he hurriedly moved his hand closer. The bird’s eyelids moved, and he opened his mouth without hesitation.

When this ugly little thing finished dinner, and then curled up his neck again and squinted his eyes comfortably, the moonlight that was originally as clear as a tulle has gradually blurred, and a layer of fluffy edges has grown, covering it. Summer night on the balcony.

He was relieved and closed the French windows gently.

The next day, when he was about to board the bus to go home after get off work, he vaguely felt that his stomach was a little uncomfortable, so he turned around and strolled all the way to the flower and bird market. He went straight to his old classmate’s shop and picked a large birdcage close to the person’s height, with two wooden horizontal bars placed one by one, one by one. The four small wheels under the cage made it easy for him to put the bird on the balcony-he thought so. The enthusiastic old classmate not only presented a sink, a food trough, and other necessities, but also promised him to take the cage to his home in a delivery truck. After he paid the money, he felt relieved physically and mentally, and his stomach was no longer uncomfortable.

The three rounds of cargo arrived very quickly, and when he and the driver’s master worked together to carry the one-meter-high cage into the house, it was just getting dark. Although the residual heat of the summer heat is still transpiring on the ground, the sky has begun to pour down as cool as water. The fourth floor where his balcony is located is like the junction between them. It is in a state of ambiguity, which is both comforting and an inescapable boredom.

“Hey, I bought you a home.” This is the first time he has spoken to the bird.

When it saw his arrival, it only raised its head slightly, and did not react in any other way, and still shrank its head lazily. But he was not disappointed. He didn’t expect it to blink at him at all. He had always lacked confidence in the so-called “spirituality” of small animals in the population.

“Isn’t it too common to call you’Xiao Hei?”

“How about you call it’Black Bean, or’Black Sesame.”

“There is another option that is more western: Black, Black.”

“Well, Black is good.”

On this day, he didn’t listen to the second hand of the clock, nor did he smoke for too long. This is true for many days after that.

Just when he felt that summer seemed to be raging endlessly, suddenly one night it rained heavily. The next morning, the coolness came through the screen windows of his bedroom, bringing news of autumn. He feels comfortable.

Black on the balcony also raised his throat more loudly than usual—it has initially grown to look like an adult Grackle, with eyes like two small pitch-black glass beads, and two light yellow ribbon-like dangles running down the lower eyelids. The head stretched out, like a bow tie around the neck, its mouth is not too long, so it will not show too strong aggression. A section of its calf shows slender bones, and its claws can firmly grasp the bars in the cage. As for its diet, there is no need for him to feed it himself. He only needs to fill up the sink and food trough before going to work every day. As Blake’s independence increased day by day, he gradually realized a sense of relaxation of responsibility relief, and began to consider its existence with another attitude.

But Black still lacks an important characteristic of being a mynah-he can’t speak human words yet. This is not because it is stupid, but its owner never taught it.

At this point, he has two considerations: First, he has spent a lot of time and energy on this bird, whether it is active or passive. Now that I have finally waited for a relaxed stage, I really don’t need to add unnecessary burdens to myself; second, Blake is a bird in the end, why bother to let the bird talk? He feels that this behavior of training birds to speak human beings is selfish, with a hint of secret compulsion, and is based on inequality. He does not want to abuse his authority.

Finally, when the irritating summer passed, in the pure autumn, his original life returned.

Black always speaks in the morning and dusk, and its screams sometimes resemble a tactful whistle, and sometimes resemble a crow that has torn its throat. The sound of the second hand of the clock was buried by the noise that it made every day on the balcony. However, whenever there is a hint of darkening, Black calms down, sits down on the horizontal bar, and shrinks his neck, his feathers are fluffy like a ball, ready to fall asleep. He had already pushed the cage to the side where the spider plant was placed, so that he could lean in a comfortable corner and smoke according to the old rules. But there is another small change that doesn’t matter-he no longer turns on the balcony light when he smokes, only let the soft light of the living room seep out, after all, Blake is asleep.

Layers of cold white moonlight randomly envelop the huge luminous body of the residential building, each spot of light emits a steady stream of warmth, and the fireworks on the earth meet the cool moonlight on the balcony and then be swallowed. He and Blake are in such a border zone, one is asleep and the other is awake. He was a little uneasy about the gentle boundary he felt. He thought that life was originally like this, but it doesn’t seem to be like this.

The arrival of this bird made his original light life suddenly focused. For a period of time, everything seemed to be related to Black. He would consider Black’s preferences when shopping for fruits in the supermarket, and adjust his outings according to Black’s work and rest. Plan, so worrying about it turned into a good thing, saving him the trouble of many choices.

And when the ginkgo leaves were at their most brilliant in autumn, there was an episode that had nothing to do with Black.

His company has newly recruited a group of fresh graduates. As one of the personnel supervisors, he was arranged to be responsible for the reception and guidance of the induction day. Among the new employees was a thin and small girl who entered the position as a “front-end engineer” in the technical department. When she opened her bag and looked for a pen to fill in the entry contract, he caught a glimpse of a book he liked very much in her bag. Poems.

Yes, he read poems and wrote poems.

He used to think that writing poetry was like a certain natural inertia of the body, but a part of his physiological mechanism, and he never thought that it would bring any changes to life. But he once had a girlfriend who mistakenly regarded him writing poetry as a sacred privilege. He did not hesitate to spend several weeks sorting out his poems, rushing around to help him submit and publish them. She encouraged him to concentrate on writing poems, calling his work “meaningless, endless wear and tear.” She is a full-time illustrator—artists like to romanticize everything and make fuss about something that is natural.

Being placed in the center of the stage of life drama, he actually found himself very useful. During that time, all the nerves in his whole body seemed to be stimulated. He always woke up hopefully, struggling to write with excitement, and had no intention of working. In retrospect, it was a dangerous state, as if an unexplainable force sent his life to an illusory high ground-like a spotlight pole in a one-man show, surrounded by transparent, intangible edges. When you get up, you will stumble if you don’t pay attention. As for where you fall, no one knows.

He was very glad that he was not completely controlled by this force-he later broke up with the girl and did not resign. He gradually stopped writing poems and did not talk about poems with anyone.

So, the phrase “Do you like poetry?” was swallowed back by him. No need, he reminded himself.

The newly hired “engineer” filled out the form slowly. He was curious whether young people who had just walked out of school wrote in this way—the thin symbols were densely packed and squeezed in every box.

She said “Thank you teacher” when she handed out the form, which made him feel a little absurd. First of all, he did nothing, just watched her fill out this cumbersome form, and then reached out to take this form, there is really nothing to thank. Secondly, he has nothing to do with the word “teacher”. He doesn’t understand why the term is so widespread nowadays.

Receiving new employees is all his work arrangements this day. The whole afternoon after that, the book of poems always flashed in his mind.

He couldn’t explain how the accidental glance stirred his mind. But the fact is that after that day, he started writing poems on his desk again-with a speed and enthusiasm that he had never had before. After that day, he could write three to four poems, or even seven to eight poems during working hours every day, and take the poems home after get off work, transcribe them neatly, and read them to Blake.

It squatted on the horizontal bar, listening to him reading poems lazily, without any other response except for occasionally blinking slowly. In this way, a new focus was established-writing poems, and reading poems to the little birds.

However, the worries about Blake did not disappear-he had been imagining the scene where Blake was desperately hitting the hard metal lock with his mouth almost all morning. He was worried that when he got home from get off work, the bridge of Blake’s nose would be full. Was ground to white.

He really has no intention of creating this day.

After lunch, he leaned on the uncomfortable boss chair, trying to look back on his state of mind since getting along with Black. He has indeed adapted very well, and even likes Black. But the only thing that makes him vaguely feel a little absurd and weird is that he is now trying to teach a flightless bird to speak human words.

“Teacher? Excuse me.” A cautious voice interrupted him.

It’s the girl who has just joined the “front-end engineer”.

He sat upright and asked, “Oh, what’s the matter?”

“The head of the department asked me to come to you to submit a resignation application.”

“Resign?” He was a little surprised.

“Uh, uh.” She smiled embarrassingly.

“Oh, good. Give it to me.” He seemed to want to ask something, but instinctively gave a statement response.

The font on her application is still the same as when she started.

After the girl left his office, it suddenly rained outside. This is a rare winter rain, and the sound of raindrops falling from tree branches seeps in through the muddy glass windows. The temperature was close to zero, and the slight movement of everything condensed into ice entered his ears.

After work that day, he stayed for a while, in order to finish the poem that was half written in the morning and couldn’t continue. When he left, it was completely dark. The straight corridor is unobstructed under the white light, and it is as silent as a cave. At the elevator entrance, he met the girl who had left the job.

“Why are you leaving at this point?” he asked.

“Ah, I cleaned up the cabinet, cleaned up the work place or something.”

“How can you leave after working for a few months?” He still asked, in order to break the embarrassment.

“Oh, I think…maybe this job is not suitable for me.” She seemed a little hesitant when she spoke.

The elevator continued to descend, without stopping in the middle, and went straight to the first floor. The door opened, and he turned sideways to let the girl go first.

“Thank you.” She said, “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.”

“Teacher, your poem is so well written!” She turned around suddenly and said a little excitedly.

“Sorry, I went to find you to submit the application in the morning. You are not here, I accidentally saw it on your desk…”

“I also like to read poetry, but I don’t know how to write it. I envy people who can write poetry.” Before he could respond, she said hurriedly.

“Goodbye!” After she finished speaking, she waved vigorously.

“Goodbye!” He said, feeling that he even fled the building in a hurry.

He returned home in disarray, and after opening the door and entering the room, he saw that Black was not hitting the lock, but was standing quietly on the pole, seemingly happy and contented. He walked closer and looked closely, and he didn’t find any changes between the marks on the bridge of its nose and yesterday. They neither spread nor deepened.

He didn’t believe it, and began to doubt his observations. He firmly believed that Black’s nose must have been hurt more at this moment, but he didn’t see it. He stood in front of the cage and spoke to it for a while-there was no poem to read this day. Black still only blinked its black ink beads. Back in the bedroom, he locked the book of poems that had been transcribed for a while and was half thick in the drawer.

At work, he often wondered if Black was using the overhead cage door and the lock. One day, he made a decision-he was going to release Black.

On this day, the tearing wind of cloth slowed his home, and before he got home, the street lights were lit. This winter signal is also the end of the year. When he turned the key, he heard Black practicing “Hello”. It makes all kinds of strange sounds, sometimes like “you wailing”, sometimes like “you wailing”, and sometimes even just yelling out a loud “you–” word. He put down the key and walked straight to the cage-he had made up his mind.

He pushed the cage onto the balcony.

“Black,” he said to it, “you look up at the sky.”

The north wind did not let go of his balcony, and the leaves of the spider plant swayed randomly with the wind. Black did not look up, but curled his neck, his eyes seemed a little blurred. He leaned closer and saw the fine feathers trembling on its stomach. He touched the sweater on his body, also feeling chilly.

“No.” He changed his mind. “You will be frozen outside.”

So he poured the feces from the bottom of the cage into the flowerpot as usual, brushed the bottom plate with a small toothbrush dipped in water, and pushed the cage back into the living room. After returning to the room for a while, Blake’s feathers slowly became compliant, and the lines of his neck were also revealed. Therefore, he was even more certain that Black was afraid of the cold. This also means that it must not be placed in the danger of freezing and freezing at this time. He decided to wait for the winter to pass and give it “freedom” in the spring.

However, when Yang Xu was flying in the sky and spring was about to end, Blake was still on his balcony. There are two main reasons. First, he always seems to miss a perfect time: when the weather is clear, the temperature is always not satisfactory; when it rains, he is worried that Black has nowhere to hide; if the weather and temperature are both up to the standard, He always had a meal again. When he got home, it was already dark. At this time, he certainly couldn’t let him go out; or he suddenly encountered a “cold spring” day. He just waited until Yang Xu raged, and he couldn’t open his eyes when he walked on the road, not to mention the domestic bird that was completely unfamiliar with the outside, he thought so. The plan to release was thus repeatedly shelved, and he had to wait until Yang Xu’s season was over.

At the same time, Black has already spoken the word “hello” very skillfully and clearly. Every day, when the daylight is still cold, it begins to “sing loudly”; every evening when he returns from get off work, it is most excited, and he can always hear Blake’s excited voice before he even enters the door. It raised its head, craned its neck, and repeated “Hello” loudly, as if showing another language that it mastered to the same kind passing by in the sky.

Blake has also become an expert on gnawing apples. It can always gnaw an hourglass-shaped apple core into a thin one—start with the two ends and eat the richest part of the fruit in a big bite. When the two ends have been gnawed sharply, the whole apple core becomes an oval. Shape, and then eat the fiber-rich place in the middle, until the dark brown seeds are swallowed into the stomach, it will give up. He didn’t like to eat apples. He felt that the taste of apples was too ordinary and uninspiring, and they were always too big to make people feel full. But after accidentally discovering that Black had a soft spot for apples, the fruit often appeared on his coffee table. Sometimes because of eating too many apples, Black is not even interested in the bird food mixed with small fish and shrimps in the trough, and even the feces pulled out are a pile of unformed apple puree. Seeing this, he began to wonder if it was not suitable for eating apples, so he immediately reduced the supply. Sure enough, without the temptation of apples, Black returned to eating normally. He put his head in the trough all day long, and ate tirelessly like a bottomless pit.

One day, he suddenly realized that Black seemed to stop pulling the lock of the cage for a long time, and the wound on the bridge of his nose did not know when he had healed. It bounced back and forth on the uneven bars in the cage freely. When he occasionally opened the cage door, it would hesitate for a moment, then flew out, playing around the old route in the living room for two rounds, once he reached out to it. When in front of him, he obediently jumped into his palm, ready to be transported back to the cage to sleep.

Therefore, when Yang Xu was finally melted by the heat wave and disappeared, he began to hesitate again.

This time, there are still two questions he is thinking about-Black has never foraging experience, if he leaves him, will he starve to death; According to recent observations, Black no longer desires to leave, but is very leisurely and contented, then there is Is it necessary to give it a so-called “freedom”?

However, all psychological struggles will eventually end in a certain behavior.

On a Saturday morning at the beginning of June, he went downstairs to buy breakfast. Walking on a section of the tree-lined road outside the community, he saw a few sparrows standing in the shadows of the branches. The summer sun shines a large swath of green leaves brightly. In the breeze, the fanning leaves seem to shimmer in dreams. He stood under the tree and stared for a while, and realized that the egg-filled pie in his hand was almost cold.

Across the road, a girl walked under a tree. He quickly followed. Cross the sidewalk at the intersection, turn left, tens of meters later, turn left again, and enter a dilapidated commercial street, where there are vendors selling meat, steamed buns, and deep-fried dough sticks. The smell of food is rising. Wake up in the steam.

The girl’s steps are light, but not fast. Behind him, he always kept a distance of more than ten meters. He still remembers the pair of jeans that the girl wore. They bought them when they traveled together. The yellowish blue color matched the brown sweater she was wearing at the time. But now she has short hair, about the length of the middle of her neck, and one of the ends of her hair is turned outwards indiscriminately. Her hair looked very smooth, it was no longer the waves that poured down from the top of her head like three hairs before.

At the end of the commercial street, she stopped, took out the key and opened a glass door facing the road, with the words “Little Star Nail Art” pasted on it. “Star” is her name. He didn’t move, stopped there and looked at the billboard above the facade. It was a simple white board with four large characters in the center, occupying almost the entire layout.

He remembered that she had said that she wanted to study a Master of Fine Arts abroad, preferably in France, so that the beautiful banks of the Seine could be painted and sent back to him, so that they could experience the classical transnational correspondence-“You write poems, I Painting. Love in the Jazz Age”, this is her original saying. For many years, he always imagined her sitting on those delicate balconies facing the street drinking coffee.

The small shop next door to the Xiaoxing Nail Salon opened the shutter, and a middle-aged man came out with a lock of hair dangling in the air on his forehead. He glanced curiously at the strange stranger in front of the door. The bucket dumped the trash overnight not far from his feet and walked back to the store after snotting his nose. He felt that the plastic bag in his hand was already covered with drops of water, and the omelet was sticking to the bag softly. He suddenly angered and threw it into the trash can beside him, then turned around and walked home quickly.

Under the tree where he had just stayed, the sparrows had already flown away, leaving empty branches swaying.

He dragged himself back to the original path, determined to return the life that belonged to Black to it. Coming to the balcony, he unscrewed the knob of the cage door, opening the door for Black.

“Black, the door is open, look.”

It stood there without moving.

“Black, do you want to fly?” Finally, he spoke again.

Blake still maintained his previous posture, standing there lazily.

So he didn’t move, just a few minutes later, he found that he couldn’t hold on.

“Forget it, Black.” He closed the cage door.

But he didn’t turn the knob-he concealed the door there and turned back to the living room. He intends to surrender the decision-making power to God who is never weak.

But this escape did not bring him the slightest ease. He couldn’t concentrate on doing anything all day. The living room became a house confinement room. He didn’t worry about leaving, even if he was going to the kitchen to pour water, he still had to look back at the balcony. When it was getting dark, Blake remained in the cage. In case of an amnesty, he hurried to the balcony and locked the cage.

“It’s dark now, you can’t fly, let’s talk about it tomorrow.” He said to it.

It was the same on the following Sunday, and Blake still didn’t push the concealed door. After two days of harsh spiritual kidnapping of oneself, the concept of time has been unknowingly pulled to a certain degree of loss of attributes. On the third day, he began to have a strange belief. He faintly felt that Blake would never fly away. The experience of the previous two days revealed a certain truth-like solid image.

He went out on time on Monday morning, and it was another sunny day. When he went home at sunset, half of the sky showed a strange and gorgeous red, and the other side was stagnant and plain white.

He didn’t hear Black’s “Hello” when he turned the key. On the balcony, the door of the cage opened with a narrow slit, and Blake was not inside. He stood there for a long time, until the burning charcoal-like setting sun sank behind the dim but straight lines of residential buildings, then he grabbed the door and wandered and searched under every tree in the community.

Soon, his back and forth stopped and disappeared into the thick twilight that couldn’t be distinguished.

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