Everywhereness.

The loudest I ever heard God was on a train.

Alone in the open doorway of an empty railcar with my feet on the platform, waiting for the last train home.

From a distance I must’ve looked sad.

A thin girl with bright orange hair.

Staring.

Shivering.

Smoking.

My longtime ex-boyfriend and even-longertime ex-best-friend were five thousand miles away, but also right in front of me. Their ghosts had followed me to London, and wouldn’t leave me alone. Haunting. Mocking. Sneering. Glad I was gone.

I lit another cigarette.

It had all happened months before. The painful, drawn-out breakups. First with him, then with her.

Losing one was incapacitating.

Losing both was catastrophic.

I was a fucking wreck.

Crying in secret. Or sometimes in public when the wind blew a certain way or the wrong song came on. Their memories sliced through me with blunt scissors. And I was a dutiful masochist.

Rewinding and replaying my part in the tragedy over and over and over and over again. Smoking and drinking until every nasty thing they said about me was true.

(Not looking for sympathy, here. Everyone’s had a trampled heart. I’m just trying to set a scene.)

Bottom line? My well-being was drop-kicked and shattered. Splayed on the concrete at Liverpool Street Station, reflecting my very worst.

So that’s where my mind was that night. Grieving. Loving them. Missing them. Hating them. Cold fingers holding a cigarette, watching the clock, waiting for Christopher who ran off to get us a tea, my brain voice whispering things like:

You deserve being sad.

They were right about you.

And the same thing will happen with Christopher.

Because you–

And that’s when it happened.

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So how do I describe this.

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You know when you use a walkie-talkie,

and you push the little button to talk

and your voice blocks out all other noise,

and you can’t hear anything until you let the button go?

—It was like that.

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.

My inner voice got muted like someone pushed a button.

STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!

something screamed.

But not a mean scream.

More like . . . interruption.

And it was LOUD.

So loud I jolted.

Then a

soft

quiet

calm

male

voice

continued gently.

Completely overriding my thoughts.

Dear Jennifer, please stop.

I looked up.

You must stop. You made some bad decisions for a short time, and that really is all.

I looked around.

Where–

Everyone messes up. Everyone. It’s all about lessons. For everyone.  Are you listening?

I nodded. By myself on that train car in the freezing cold I nodded.

You are loved more than you know. You have learned. And it will get better. It already is. Now no more.

I looked around like a maniac.

The voice was IN my head, gentle but firm, and so very obviously not my own.

And here came Christopher, smiling, holding two cups of steaming tea.

“What’s wrong, darling, you been crying?”

I nodded.

“Something just happened,” I managed.

“Tell me.” He swiped my cheek with a finger.

I accepted the tea, stubbed out my cigarette then told him.

Clearly, two counts of Divine Intervention.

(The second miracle is that Christopher stuck around.)

My healing began that night. And I remember it with profound gratitude.

Not for God’s existence. But for his Everywhereness.

I wasn’t in church and certainly wasn’t treating my body like a temple. But He was right there, privy to my pain. Loving me while I was quite incapable of loving myself.

(Note: I use the He pronoun for simplicity; that’s not really how I define things.)

So what’s the deal. Why am I sharing this.

Well.

     1. Because this is what I write about: The Other Side.

 And 2. Because last year my brain got noisy again.

Not in my personal world. But in the world around me.

And I’m about to switch gears, because how do I recap 2016 in a tidy blog?

The deaths were . . .

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— hard.

And not just the famous ones. I lost my beloved grandmother, too. And then election season. Sweet Jesus, election season. The only thing rougher than election season was being an EMPATH during election season.

Fear.

Anger.

Misogyny.

Derision.

Don’t remind you, right?

People’s inner psychos came out.

Somehow, someway, the word pussy wriggled its way into a presidential debate.

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People shouted but didn’t listen.

I discovered some of my ‘friends’ maybe don’t like black people

certainly don’t like Muslim people

and definitely not gay people.

And wait . . .  had they always felt this way? 

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I found myself on the defense for being white.

I scrolled past pictures of dusty, bombed Syrian babies and watched Mein Kampf grow a waiting list at the library.  A waiting list!

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Remind me what planet we’re on?

And just when we were in the home stretch . . .

George Michael up and died.

On Christmas.

S e r i o u s l y.

I said it on Facebook and I’ll say it again.

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What the message is, I dunno. But it made me want to scoot my chair closer to God and listen to Careless Whisper on repeat. And also start writing a blog series about His everywhereness –something I’ve considered a very long time. 

Because I never found him in a building.

(Okay, there was that one time.)

Mostly I found Him hanging out where I was.

In the cracks.

On trains.

In lyrics.

Through coincidence  divine orchestration and intuitive nudges that wouldn’t go away.

But especially through people I met at just the right time.

Like my friend Emily, who writes about this stuff, too. Emily is the only other person I know (my age) who owns a kaftan. She also agreed to join me on my little God Tour.

And just yesterday when I thought maybe I shouldn’t write this — because hey– it’s personal, a complete stranger approached me and said “I just gotta tell someone.”

He was tall. Black. Homeless. A gentle weathered face like John Coffey in The Green Mile. And he smiled at me real big.

“I was so cold yesterday and feeling real low cos I didn’t have anywhere to go.” He closed his fists for emphasis. “I asked God to please help me. He guided me to a motel to get warm and stretch my legs and you know what? The lady there -I told her not to-but she ordered me a pizza.”

He started to tear up.

And so did I.

I recognize a message when it’s standing right in front of me.

“And this morning something told me to check my account,” he continued. “It was weird, you know? Because I haven’t had money for so long, but I did. I checked my account. And you know what? There was money in there. I couldn’t believe it. My old employer finally deposited some funds we been fighting over and now I can breathe. I can eat and get warm and I’m so grateful. God listens, He really does. Even though I’m homeless. I’m sorry, ma’am. Here I am, a grownup man crying. But I just had to tell somebody.”

So just in case

I had ANY doubt

 I should move forward with this . . .

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Thanks for reading.

If you’d like to follow this blog, you can sign up for notifications.

See you in the cracks.

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Love, 

Jennifer

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Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (End)

(This is the last entry!!)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY NINETEEN

100% chance.

 

It rained all night.

All morning.

All afternoon.

And it’s still raining.

Passing cars splash baby tidal waves and rain gutters pour waterfalls.

You know the sound.

The girls are huddled together, dry under the porch awning, waiting it out.

Not me.

The back garden is a thousand shallow pools, growing deeper by the second. And I’m running back and forth, splashing. Sinking into soft, fresh mud.

Clucking.

Carpeing this diem.

I feel the girls watching, a little concerned.

Chickens.

Some creatures hide from weather; others delight in it.

I am variety B.

And so are my humans, blaring Indian music with the doors open wide.

Sometimes you gotta act a little crazy to feel sane.

And today sanity is dirty feet, grey skies, wet feathers, and secure knowledge that I got first dibs on all the worm action tomorrow.

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Is that Beryl in the compost?

 

                      

DAY TWENTY

roaches and biscuits

 

Heck ya that’s me in the compost!

Jenkins gave me the stink eye I was in there so long, but truth be told I’m feeling a little feisty.

Maybe because my toe’s growing back.

Simple things feel magic when they’re new again.

Like nesting and the weighty pull of a forming egg.

The natural order of things.

I like the word order. It means rightful place.

Like me on this roost next to my sister.

G’night, Beryl, she coos, her head against mine.

And we were just about asleep when Jennifer screamed so loud the girls shot up like toast.

But I knew better.

Either she saw a roach or popped open some biscuits, I explained calmly. My eyes still closed.

Then we hear a clunka shoe perhaps— and think we know the answer.

Wanda giggles first, then Jenkins.

Then me.

Then Babs, who never laughs at anyone.

Then we squished together.

The four of us sleepy.

The four of us remembering.

You know that sudden bursty feeling when all your happies come back?

That.

 

A moment of silence for Mister Roach

2016-2016.

 

THE LAST DAY

the trill of pleasure

 

I made a brand new noise for my humans today.

A soft warbling trill from the back of my healing throat.

When they look it up on the Google, they’ll find it means

thank you.

I’m happy

I love you.

And life is good.

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My name is Beryl.

I’m a beautiful lady chicken.

And I’m gonna 

I made it.

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3  weeks later, Beryl re-established her dominance.

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…………………..

Thank you for reading my diary, people humans.

If you like it, I hope you’ll share because that helps Jennifer, who’s pretty okay sometimes.

I wish you the very best things in the world.

 

love, Beryl

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (9)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY SEVENTEEN

a chicken called Wanda

 

Tonight I’m in Ollie’s old bed, watching Sophia play.

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Her room is way better than the bathtub. There’s so much to look at!

Twinkly lights, gilded peacock wallpaper, bits of yarn, rainbow pens, swirly fan, picture books, Pokemon cards, soft poofy animals, spray bottles, potions, lotions, and plastic baby humans with frozen blue eyes. I could go on!

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I slept in here the last two nights. This vintage doll bed makes a nice, comfortable roost. And I’d just closed my eyes when Jennifer snuck in and grabbed me.  Arrghh this human!

“Come on, girl,” she said. “It’s time.”

Time for what?

She carried me to the back door.

What was she doing?

The door creaked open to stuffy night air.

Where were we going?

We crossed the yard and entered the coop where Jenkins, Babs, and Wanda huddled on the roost.

Wait. What—

Jennifer squeezed me tight then kissed my head before placing me next to Wanda. The girls twittered in confusion.

“Be nice,” she warned, mostly to Jenkins.

I wrapped my toes tight around the roost.  Wanda looked at me then scooted as far away as she could, acting so put out my own dang sister pulled that silly hen under her wing.

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If Wanda ever wonders why she’s the weakest link, I’ll remind her of that moment right there. Missus Jenkins stuck her neck out to examine me, but with two hens between us there wasn’t much she could do.

Thirty minutes later, Jennifer found me quite happy against the wall. I would’ve preferred snuggling next to Babs, but the fact I’m up here without incident is good enough for now.

I can’t believe I’m out here!

Rustly leaves.

Distant traffic.

Late night tv illuminating dark windows blue.

Bugs swarming yellow porch lights and Ollie, fwapping through the cat flap.

You’ve may’ve heard chickens have short memories —it’s true.

I’d forgotten the night.

The girls coo softly.

A neighbor dog barks and another answers, far away.

It smells like safeness.

It smells like home.

Did you know that crickets sing lullabies?

They do.

They sing about moonbeams.

I close my eyes.

 

 

DAY EIGHTEEN

the glass divide

 

At first I was confused.

The cardinals woke me up.

Then feathers.

—warm at my side?

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I opened my eyes to Babs, right next to me.

Sitting quiet and pretty like she does.

I made Wanda switch places, she said.

The backdoor screetched and out flew spaghetti like clumps of sticky worms.

Wanda and Missus Jenkins bolted for the porch but me and my sister moved slow on account of my toe.

Ready? said Babs, helping me down the ramp.

I could tell Jenkins wanted to bully me but I also knew she wouldn’t, if that makes any sense.

I paused from eating then stepped back a few paces, trying to look inside.

The window’s up high so I backed up some more.

Until I can see her.

I see the web first.

Then there she is.

Staring down at me, too.

Her old face still.

We locked eyes for a long time.

And right then I learned silence can be very, very loud. And if anyone executes a requiem of feelings with their eyeballs, it’s that spider.

I, however, do not posses that skill.

I never took time to speak to you, spiderlady. I’m sorry.

I relayed this by stomping my left foot and tipping by head sideways.

She stared into me, her eyes symphonic dewdrops, and I knew she understood.

So then I willed her peace and whatever love she needs.

And flies, I added, quickly. Lots and lots of flies.

She turned away and I returned to my noodles.

Now don’t quote me.

But I think spiders smile on the inside, too.

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Continue reading HERE.

………………………………………………..

The LAST entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification you can sign up to follow this blog. 

Or maybe just show someone that pic of me and Babs. 

People don’t need big, expensive reasons to smile.

love, Beryl

 

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (8)

Read from the beginning HERE.

……………….

 

DAY FIFTEEN

mac-n-cheese

 

This morning I flew out of the tub and waited by the back door. Jennifer smiled super big then let me out with some fresh water and last night’s macaroni and cheese. Ollie came by and sniffed so we shared it. Then we laid in the sun for a long time.

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The other girls watched us, huddled by the gate.

I know what they’re thinking.

They miss the compost.

Well, tough.

I miss my toe.

 

 

DAY SIXTEEN

the most beautiful sister in the world

 

Jennifer unlatched the gate today, letting Wanda in my side of the yard. I know why she did this. She wanted to see how Wanda would treat me. Ollie and I watched her skirt around the gate, looking for a way back in.

Silly hen.

You could tell she wasn’t comfortable being separate from the others —-until she realized the compost was hers for the taking.

She ignored me completely.

Then Jennifer shocked me.

She let Babs in.

Oh dear.

I stood and watched my sister, super nervous.

My wounds aren’t exposed, I thought. 

Nice, hard crusty scabs. Both eyes open.

My feathers and comb need to grow back but I’m still the same ole Beryl, minus one toe.

OhGodhereshecomes.

Babs bypassed the compost, headed straight for me, her expression unreadable.

Please Babs. 

I held my breath.

Please don’t hurt me.

My sister crept close.

Examining.

Unsure.

She paused in front of me, cocking her head sideways.

Please don’t hurt me, sister.

I stood real still.

She raised her neck and I cowered low.

But when I opened my eyes, my sister pecked dirt between us, wiped her beak on the ground, then walked away.

SHE

WALKED

AWAY!

See that? I told Ollie, watching Babs settle in her favorite breezy spot by the A/C unit.

She didn’t peck me. 

You can’t see chickens smile. But we do.

We smile on the inside.

She didn’t peck me.

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Continue reading HERE.

……………………………………………..

The next entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

When you’re reading about me, you’re probably not worrying about the news.

So that’s good.

love, Beryl

 

 

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (7)

Read from the beginning HERE.

……………

DAY THIRTEEN

Ollie

Jennifer put me outside for a long time today.

I don’t want her to forget she’s a chicken! she declared, which is the dumbest thing I ever heard.

If she spent ten days outside, would she forget she’s human?

Christopher says she never forgets anything, so I guess the answer is no.

If you’re wondering how I managed outside safe from fair-feather Jenkins, I’ll tell you.

Alongside our coop, Christopher built a wire fence with a swinging gate that when closed, divides the garden in two. 

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He said it would protect half the garden from our appetites, whatever that means — but I say it was a fortuitous decision considering my current predicament.

Jennifer closed the gate so I was separate and safe then put me on the ground.

O frabjous day!

The sun felt delicious on my air-conditioned feathers! I walked a little funny on account of my missing toe, but sinking my nails in the hot dry dirt —well— that’s a beautiful sensation I barely have words for. Maybe a toaster feels the same when it’s plugged in.

I took a long dirt bath to clear away mites, picked around the ivy, then sat on the porch next to Ollie, the old lady cat my humans adopted a few months back. Ollie remembers I’m me.

Together we lay in the sun and I feel safe.

Let’s count bees, she suggested.

So we did.

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I like Ollie.

She’s chill like that.

P.S. My feathers are growing back!

Yay me!

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DAY FOURTEEN

movie night

I have a new routine!

Jennifer puts me outside in the morning with my own food and water. Sometimes I make eyes with my sister through the wire fence. I’m not sure what I’d do if she pecked me, so I’m happy to be over here and remember the good ole days.

I can still love her from far away.

Look at my sister. Isn’t she beautiful?

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I used to look like that.

I’m used to being alone now, though ‘alone’ may not be the right word. Ollie keeps me company outside. And humans keep me company inside. At night, Jennifer wraps me in a towel and holds me against her chest.

Sometimes we watch movies.

Last night we watched The Revenant.

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That bear scene reminded me of you-know-what.

My toe looks funny but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Christopher put a plank of wood over the tub so I can perch if I want to.

Did I tell you both my eyes are open now?

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Continue reading HERE.

…………………………………………

The next entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile,

What did the Mexican farmer say to his hens?

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O lay!

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(Am I too hip for the room?)

love, Beryl

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (6)

Read from the beginning HERE.

…………….

 

DAY ELEVEN

trapped

 

Ol’ spider finally trapped some food tonight.

I’m relieved actually, she was looking a little pale.

—still. 

Desperate buzzing is a very sad noise.

That poor fly tried to escape, tangling deeper as she inched close, creeping in such a way, I felt glad to be down here.

I couldn’t watch.

So I listened to thunder instead.

Rain tonight means lots of worms for the girls tomorrow. Makes me jealous, really.

I quite enjoy tub service, but I miss getting my beak dirty.

zzzzzzzzzzzz

Not fair!” Sophia yells, three rooms away. “You never let me—”

A door slams.

Dangit.

I want to hear what they never let her do.

I wish they’d turn on the lights.

The room is dark and the dark clouds are making it darker.

Christopher’s in there hollering about focus! and how many times does nine go into thirty-six!

That’s something we really couldn’t hear outside —arguing.

I don’t like it.

FOUR! Sophia yells, stomping so hard my bathtub trembles.

Ugh.

Thunder outside, thunder inside.

Now rain slaps the window like it’s mad about something.

zzzzzzz  . . . zz

. . . z

I stare at the soap dish.

Maybe she had eggs in the compost, that fly. Maybe she had a sister.

The soap is slivery thin like a waning moon, a single hair its prisoner.

We have a lot in common, me and that hair, trapped in white.

Spider’s over there wrapping her prize and I think about fate.

Maybe life’s divided in two.

One half thinking you know stuff and the other half wishing you didn’t.

I miss my sister.

I miss my old life.

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DAY TWELVE

it

 

Okay, sorry about all that.

Dwelling on the past 

+ 

Feeling sorry for yourself 

= Weakness.

 

I don’t know why that raccoon chose me, but he did. So now I just have to get on with it.

The big, proverbial it.

Tonight the moon’ll chase the sun, and tomorrow a rooster will crow whether we like the noise or not.

And let’s face it.

If that raccoon had gone after Wanda instead of me, there’d be three hens alive right now instead of four.

Chickens will be chickens.

Plus all the worrying would interrupt my healing.

Christopher keeps sighing at me with worried eyes and I’m not having that.

Not after all he’s done.

I heard him say maybe I should be an inside chicken and something about diapers.

If that means what I think it means—

Speaking of inside, I hope they don’t clean the windows.

Spider looks tired today.

Her fly’s all wrapped up like a wooly burrito.

One ambitious wipe and her life would be over.

I tried expressing this on her behalf. But it came out beCAW!

–and made my human jump.

A mistake perhaps.

They like quiet on the toilet.

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Continue reading HERE.

………………………………………

The next entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile,

We’re halfway through my diary! If you’ve enjoyed reading, please tell people about me. And share and stuff.

I have moderate vocabulary but big dreams. 

love, Beryl

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (5)

Read from the beginning HERE.

………

 

DAY NINE

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:

currrrrcurrrrrcuurrrrr

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.

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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.

Teapots.

Paper and pens.

Songs about yellow submarines.

She knows a little about a lot.

But not about chickens.

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DAY TEN

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.

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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.

So there.

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Continue reading HERE.

*******************************

The next entry will be posted in two days. 

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile,

Thanks for following along.

I’m glad you’re here.

love, Beryl