Experts say that hope is the thing with feathers, but how many feathers is the question, and can this bird actually fly?

“Yes, the thing with feathers is a bird,” said one source.  “I’m not aware that there are other things that have feathers.”

But how long wiil the feathers remain?  Eyewitnesses report that lately the bird has been singing less, and has taken to chewing on its own skin, leaving a few bare patches near what would be  the shoulder area, if birds had shoulders.

“It’s what they do when they’re nervous,” said a person standing close to the cage, but not feeding the bird.  “I guess they don’t like to be locked up for long stretches. ”

But how did this bird get into the cage in the first place?

“It was looking for seeds,” said a woman standing in a doorjam, who hadn’t decided whether to enter the room or leave. “It forgot that you can also go outside to get seeds.  And that also there are berries out there.”

Once the bird entered the cage, a small child shut the door behind it.  And it’s been in there ever since.

“There’s a latch,” said a man’s head that was peering through the window that the bird could have flown through if it had thought that there were seeds outside.  “It’s a smart bird, it can get itself out of that cage if it wants to.”

“You’re a jerk, you’re a jerk,” sang the bird, just repeating a phrase it had heard someone say once. The bird appeared to be standing still except for its eyes, which occasionally seemed to be scanning, tenuously, for a latch.

Experts estimate that the thing with feathers (bird) has plucked out four of its flight feathers during its time in the cage.  At least three of them appear to be growing back, but will they grow fast enough, and will the bird attempt the flight before the new feathers have come in?

“Nobody knows,” said somebody laying on the floor watching tv.  “That’s the bird’s problem.”

If the bird attempts to fly away too soon, the immature flight feathers may not be ready for the journey, causing the bird to plummet to the floor, where it would be vulnerable to cats and vacuum cleaners.  If it waits too long, experts say the bird may lose patience once and for all, and pluck out not only the new feathers, but all of its old ones as well, making it the thing without feathers.

The bird sat on its perch staring out the window.  Nobody could tell from its expression what it was thinking.

“I think it’s going to fly,” said the guy standing near the cage.  “I’ve seen that look before, that bird has a plan.”

The thing with feathers declined to comment.  It did, however, look the interviewer in the eye and stretch what remained of its wings, holding them out there, a challenge, a dare.

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