Jennifer’s poor choices
The humans have a girl hatchling, Sophia. She has very busy hands and hair like a bird’s nest. Everyday she sprays me with oil of the tea trees. She also taps my torn comb with a delicate contraption called a Q-tip.
I enjoy her expression as she does this.
It’s quiet and protective.
Like a closing flower.
I’ve started making small noises again.
Today I managed Thank you, chicklette. My neck doesn’t sting anymore.
It sounded like this:
Sometimes I think she understands me.
I’m feeling quite happy today.
Christopher gave me a nice, warm, salty bath then hand fed me worms — quite different from the fat, wiggly ones outside. These were hard, from a plastic bag and didn’t taste as good. But I like he spent time with me.
His hands still smell wonderful.
Like milk and tea leaves.
I think she’s ready to go outside! Jennifer announced, watching me fluff my feathers real big. She interpreted this as a sign of strength, but really I was just trying to keep warm.
Chickens —like humans— feel more secure with a leader.
And the way we establish dominance is by pecking. Most times it’s a quick thunk on the head like Hey you weakling! This is my yard, got it? But other times it’s serious. Resulting in blood, injury, and cannibalism.
If it seems brutal, that’s because it is.
Chickens die this way.
All the time.
I have limited facial expressions and even less vocabulary.
I had no way to say I wasn’t comfortable going outside. My scabs were new and paper thin. One little stretch in the wrong direction and they’d rip. And if the girls smelled blood I’d be in serious trouble.
Please don’t take me outside.
But next thing I know, I’m outside.
Placed on the ground where Babs, Wanda, and Jenkins pecked leftover curry.
They stopped eating and looked at me.
Missus Jenkins stretched out her neck to examine mine and I cowered down.
Dang I knew this would happen!
She reared up high and stabbed down HARD, making the other girls scramble. My scabs tore like tissue paper and I tried not to cry, but just imagine someone jabbing a fork in your open wound. I couldn’t help it.
Now imagine it’s your friend.
You’d cry, too.
Jennifer snatched me up fast.
I’m so sorry, Beryl, she whispered, squeezing me tight. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.
She held me awhile then put me back in the tub, but didn’t leave my side.
Jennifer likes books.
Paper and pens.
Songs about yellow submarines.
She knows a little about a lot.
But not about chickens.
things that start with j: jerk and Jenkins
Missus Jenkins clearly doesn’t remember me protecting her.
When she and Wanda first arrived, they were scrawny little chicks. Scrambling around cheeping. Looking for hiding spots. Babs pecked their heads to establish dominance, but I told her that wasn’t necessary. They were practically babies!
So they followed me around instead.
I showed them the garden— where we eat, drink, and the best spots for sunshine.
Christopher placed them on our roost that first night, then locked us inside.
See? I nudged Jenkins. Isn’t this nice?
But she trembled against the wall.
So I pulled her under my wing.
Because that’s how we comfort each other.
You’re safe, I assured her. This is your home now.
And that’s where she slept for months and months.
Apparently she doesn’t remember that at all.
Now she’s full grown and super bossy.
Look at her.
Acting like she owns the joint.
Jennifer calls her the Town Crier because she struts around making loud announcements anytime anybody lays an egg.
How do I tell her I’m still me?
Maybe she doesn’t remember.
But I do.
She’s also the only one who gets squirty poops after spicy leftovers.
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