Topical events are always worth researching according to young Mary. She rarely leaves home, apart from attending school, preferring the company of her computer screen. She discovers All Hallows’ Eve combined both Christian and Celtic observances. It was a time when boundaries between the living and the dead were blurred.
A gum wrapper blows through her bedroom window. She peeks out at ghosts, jack-o’-lanterns, and activities in the park. Then, she hears a songbird call.
Mary crosses the street to find a caged yellow canary. It’s selling cheap, and crying for help, so she buys it.
Mary opens the cage door. It flies around her sunlit room before landing on top of its poopy prison then, raises one claw. Intrigued, Mary wonders what this gesture means. She searches canaries on the internet finding the phrase “canary in a coal mine” referring to a coming crisis. Canaries were used in coal mines to detect toxic fumes. When a canary died, miners knew deadly gases were present.
There’s something about Mary’s canary. She thought it might want food and she forgot to ask if it had a name. Mary fetches corn and offers it to the bird’s raised claw when it lifts its remaining claw, suspending itself in thin air above its coop.
Mary’s hands shake. She scrolls further to discover how it levitates. It’s not a hummingbird because it’s not flapping its wings. She comes across an article revealing canaries don’t like direct sunlight. She draws the blinds. It gradually lowers. It’s dark with the venetians closed so she switches the lamp on. Again, her buddy raises a claw. Again, she offers it treats.
Mary can’t figure how it magically rises. She’d solve this later. She decides to give it a name: Yella, Hover, Sunny, Riser…
Now, it raises both claws staring at her with all-knowing eyes. Immediately, she switches off the lamp. Mary recalls what she’d read about coal mines and dead canaries. Maybe it’s the ghost of a miner’s bird? Terrified, she crawls under her bed covers screaming, “Scary.”
Her avian friend sings, “Trick-or-treat?”