I close the door and turn the key for the very last time, hopeful that my unwanted guest would remain behind the lock.
At first, I had tried to convince myself that it was only a recurring dream. However, it continued, and I simply couldn’t deny the reality that something was unsettling Jerome and making him scream after his six years of silence.
I ceased trying to teach Jerome phrases after the third year; it was clear he was not going to repeat them. He was mute, and that was ok because in providing comfort he was fluent. As a newborn, Jerome had been abandoned by his mother, and when Sarah asked if I could temporarily foster him, I did not hesitate. He needed feeding every two hours; he was fragile but yearned to survive and soon flourished. When the time came, I could not bear to return him to Sarah.
He now spends the days freely roaming the apartment, patiently awaiting my return, and the nights we spend together until he retires in his cage - silently. This had been our routine, until two weeks ago when Jerome’s voice interrupted the pattern.
‘He is watching you, Jane!’ he squawked repeatedly in a panicked, parrot voice from underneath the blanket covering his cage.
This became a daily disturbance and only lasted a few minutes before Jerome settled down again. However, the icicles on my spine are still not thawed.
I have yet to discover who is watching me, but one thing is for sure, Jerome and I will not stay in that apartment any longer waiting for him to show his face!