As soon as Sarah walks up, she knows something is wrong. For one thing, Benny’s look of distress is a dead giveaway. Huddled against the lockers, he’s using his brown striped hoodie to shield something from view. Every so often his face scrunches up in pain. He’s whispering placating statements into his hoodie which do not seem to be effective. Nerd 2 is nowhere in sight, so Sarah taps Nerd 1 on the shoulder instead. “Hey, where’s Ethan?”
Benny looks guilty. “Uhh…” He slowly parts his hoodie to reveal a gray and yellow cockatiel. It squawks angrily. Sarah stares.
“Benny…” she says slowly, “Why do you have a cockatiel in school?”
Benny covers up the bird again, which the bird is decidedly not happy about. The bird makes a little sound that sounds a little like “fuck you, Benny!” Sarah decides that is crazy because birds cannot talk, much less tell her friend to go fuck himself. Unless it’s one of those speech mimicking birds. “Oh, is that what kind of bird he is? Heh, I was trying to figure that out.”
The bird squawks again. “Fuck you, Benny,” it is definitely saying. Sarah starts to put two and two together, connecting the dots together in an order she wishes wasn’t there.
“Wait… is that…”
“Ethan?” Benny nodded weakly. “Yep. Whoops?”
Sarah smacked him on the arm, jostling the bird. “Benny! What did you do!”
“Well, what does it look like I did!” snapped Benny. “I turned my best friend into a bird!” He shook the bird angrily. The bird screamed, causing many high schoolers to look at them. One of them gave Benny the finger. He returned it. “And I don’t know how to turn him back. One minute I was waving my hand around, mumbling some spell, the next Ethan’s clothes are in a pile on the floor and there’s a cockatiel shrieking at me!”
Rory bounced up to them. “Dude, you got Ethan’s clothes on the floor? Man, finally!” He held his hand up in a high five and smiled brightly. Benny glared.
“Dude, that was supposed to stay between us!” he hissed. The bird gave a confused squawk. Benny quickly flashed the bird from under the hoodie at Rory, and no, not that kind of bird, the other kind of bird. The one that was currently trying to bite the shit out of Benny’s finger. “I accidentally turned Ethan- OW- into a cocka- a cocka- a- cock,”
“A cockatiel,” Sarah finished, “Benny Rabbit turned Teethan into a cockatiel.”
“Whoa!” Rory said, peering at the small bird with Benny’s whole pinky in its mouth. It was choking. “Can I eat it?”
“Rory!” Benny yelled, “Didn’t you just hear what Sarah said?!”
Rory shook his head. “Nope. All I heard was cock. And then I stopped listening because I do NOT need to know what you guys do in the bedroom, okay?” Benny looked like he wanted to strangle him.
“Y’know,” Sarah mused, “The bird still kinda looks like Ethan. It still has that blush he always has around me.”
“Oh!” Rory exclaimed in sudden revelation, “The bird is Ethan!” All three of them shushed him. The cockatiel had successfully dislodged the finger from his mouth.
“Fuck you, Benny,” it said, then preened.
Back at home, Benny ransacked the spellbooks, trying to find any human transfiguration spells. “Turning yourself into a couch… turning yourself into a cat… turning your enemy into a cat… Goddamnit! Why are all of these about turning a human into something, but not turning something into a human!” Benny threw the spellbook away from himself angrily. The bird puffed up its wings and squawked at him. It squawked something suspiciously close to “Grandma.”
“Grandma? You want me to ask Grandma? Ethan, she’ll kill me!”
The bird made a cutting motion at the approximate location of its neck. The message was clear: Not if I kill you first. Benny sighed and yelled up the stairs, “GRANDMAAA!”
The senior Weir walked down the stairs. Eyes landing immediately on the disgruntled bird, she crossed her arms. “Benjamin. Tell me you didn’t”
Benny laughed in that way he always did when he was nervous. “Okay. I won’t tell you!”
The bird ruffled its feathers in the most intimidating way a five inch long cockatiel could. If birds could glare, this one was certainly trying. It let out a series of angry chirps. It was positively adorable.
Evelyn Weir sighed. “It’ll wear off. Maybe.” She turned to go up the stairs.
“Wait!” Benny blurted out, “What do you mean, maybe?!? Do you mean he might be stuck like this forever!” The bird growled, which was quite disconcerting coming from such small lungs.
Evelyn paused. “Maybe.” Then she walked up the stairs and shut the door. Benny turned to the furious bird and held his arms out placatingly to no avail.
“Uhh.. Nice bird?”
The bird immediately attempted to dive-bomb him. Benny shrieked like a little girl and dove out of the way. The bird landed in his hair and bit at him. Benny attempted to wave it off before he realized he might break Ethan’s arms, or his wings, now. Benny sighed in defeat.
“Well. I guess we’ll just have to wait.” He chuckled nervously. “Good thing we have that long weekend, huh?”
“Fuck you, Benny!”
It was Saturday morning, and Ethan was still a bird. He profoundly disliked being a bird. For one thing, he was small for a boy his age, but this was unusually small. This was five inches tall small. He was beginning to think he was small for a bird, even. Everything else was big to him, and it was scary. One swipe of Benny’s hand and Ethan’s neck could break. He hopped around the bedroom while Benny still slept. There was a bag of corn-chips on the ground and Ethan briefly debated eating it before realizing his own thoughts. He was really hungry, he hadn’t eaten in a full day. What did cockatiels even eat, anyway? He hopped around some more. Hey, that was that comic he had lent Benny a month ago. The comic was facedown and dog-eared. He internally winced. Damn Benny and his treatment of books… Benny shifted on the bed. Ethan turned his head in that birdlike way and wondered if he was getting up. Apparently not. The clock on the nightstand read 5 am. Ethan, being a bird, was up early. He beat his wings against the window, briefly entertaining the thought of attempting to dig up some worms from Benny’s backyard. Was that what birds ate? Ethan didn’t even know.
Ethan flew up to the bed. He hit Benny with his wing and squawked as loudly as he could at him. Benny didn’t budge. Ethan squawked in frustration and kicked him with one of his tiny little bird claws. It did nothing. Ethan scouted the room carefully and spotted the rankest piece of clothing he could find. He gripped it tight in his beak and dragged it over, knocking over disgusting towers of leftovers and teenage boy paraphernalia. He spotted a Playboy magazine AND a Playgirl magazine, which meant he and Benny were going to have to have a talk about both the magazines and Rory’s comments from earlier. He flew the boxers up the bed, almost dropping it, and hovered above Benny’s innocently sleeping face. He beat his wings, once, twice, then dropped the clothing right onto Benny’s face. He inhaled, then immediately sat up.
“Blegh! Ew, what the fuck?”
Ethan flew onto the nightstand. He tried for a goodmorning, but his mouth couldn’t form the words. So instead, he settled on a tried and true method he already had down.
“Fuck you, Benny.”