We raised birds, didn’t we, you and me. We crept out on those freezing mornings and plucked them, shivering, from the ice. It was all we could do, wasn’t it, to patiently wait for their tiny feet to thaw. You liked penguins, didn’t you, and for me it was pelicans. Even now, I strain not to write their names. We gave each one a name, didn’t we, chosen carefully from thick random books. We spent a lot of time in that library, you and me. It was the only place warm enough for the birds. We’d smuggle them in, under our jackets. Our pockets wriggled and our beanies squirmed. Nobody ever bothered us in Natural History.
And the Safe Handling Room. We both sniggered at its name. A place meant for reading precious books, just as good for egg incubation, cotton gloves and all. Nobody ever knew. We ratcheted the lamps right down to the table, and the little birds stretched out their weak wings in the growing heat. We loved this moment, didn’t we.