There’s a whoosh as she opens the door and then the jingle jangle of the bell above her head. Behind a vast number of cages, cabinets and vivariums appear all manner of expectant faces wearing feathers, fur and whiskers. Some are inquisitive while others quickly lose interest. Some climb the bars of their homes and watch her as she enters while others go back to grooming themselves. Rubbing her belly, she tongues the remaining chocolate from the corners of her mouth and approaches a row of cages containing an assortment of birds. She’s not too fond of birds, but she does like their feathers. Squawking and singing among themselves, she eyes them up seeing if any rogue feathers have escaped to the floor but alas there are none. At the end of the aisle sits a parrot on a wooden perch atop of his open cage. Cheeky thing he is. Moving close to him, she leans forward and rubs her nose against his beak. An Eskimo kiss just for you, and as the bird talks to himself about what a kind thing the pretty girl did, X looks at the fishes and sniffs the potted flowers at the far end of the room before turning back and walking down the other aisle. In each cage, there are furry faces watching her every move. Some squeak to get her attention. Some go even further and hang upside down like the little show-offs they are. Kneeling down, she smiles at all the eyes upon her and introduces herself to each and every one. They’re all so pleased to meet her and seeing their paws and tails and their tiny pink noses almost brings a tear to her eye. Picking herself up, she feels at one with herself, so much so that even though she knows she shouldn’t, she’s thinking of taking one home with her. Turning the thought over in her head, she eyes up the cage on the end. Empty, she thinks, and yet upon closer inspection, she sees a slight stirring in the bedding. Putting her face close enough to bars of the cage so that her hair spills in, she narrows her eyes. Wake up, lazy! And with that, from the wood shavings pokes the head of a chubby hamster. Eyes wide open in surprise at the beaming face looking down on him, he brings his paws up and twitches his whiskers, and for several seconds the two of them just look at each other. Not quite knowing what to do, he gives her a sniff and decides she’s okay. Grinning from ear to ear, she makes her way to the counter, and in less than five minutes she leaves the store holding a box in one hand and a bag of chocolate drops in the other. Lifting the lid, she smiles at his fluffy face and slides him a drop. Taking it in his hands, he pops it in his cheeks and then asks for another. I think you and I are gonna get along just fine, and with that, she feeds him a few more and sets off under the still rising sun.