A Chicken’s Tale

photographs by Jadyn Ide-Peche

BY JADYN IDE-PECHE

My eyes peeled open at the sound of my sisters bellowing squawk.  “Jenny…” She screeched. I searched clumsily for my glasses, knocking over my lamp in the process. I jumped down from my nesting box onto my perch. Ruffling my feathers and snapping my beak I prepared myself for the quarrel to come. As predicted, my charming sister Alana burst into the room. (#5) “Where did you hide my yellow polka dot sweater?”  I cooly hopped down onto the second bar of my perch.  

“And why in the name of Chicklord would I take that hideous piece of fabric?” I glared at her as she overturned my desk with a clash. Just as she had begun stomping on the floor checking for loose boards (and surely making some in the process) my mother burst in the door.  

“What is all of this banging and clashing? Are you building a house up here?” She glanced around the room nervously.

I bet she planted it there.

“Mother you won’t believe this! Jenny stole my new yellow polka dot sweater and hid it somewhere in her room!” Alana accused.  

“Did she now?” My mother cocked her head to look up at me, staring quizzically with a slightly narrowing eye.  

“I didn’t steal her sweater, I swear!” I explained frantically throwing my wings in the air. My mother whipped around, her beak now pointing out the door and her feathers still quivering from the abrupt turn.  

“Well then, problem solved! Chop Chop girls or you’ll be late for school!” Her butt, overflowing with feathers, swished right and left as she exited the room, brushing against the doorframe as she left. The edges of my beak snaked upwards on my face as I turned slowly to face Alana. She was gaping open mouthed at the door as if mother was still standing there, but instead of her stained cooking apron she was wearing Alana’s yellow polka dot sweater.

When I visited my sister’s room, the sweater fiasco had been resolved. After searching for approximately five minutes (under very close watch might I add), I discovered the yellow polka dot sweater lounging on an elaborate flower armchair; warm and cozy under a pile of red, orange, green, and blue polka dot sweaters. “Could this possibly be your yellow polka dot sweater?” I held it up for her to examine. She tightened her beak and briskly waddled over.  Her eyeball moved from the sweater to my amused face and while giving me a look of utmost hatred, she snatched the sweater from my wing almost knocking me over. 

As I steadied myself and strutted out of the room I heard her mutter “I bet she planted it there.”

My beak opened and I released a long suppressed laugh.  I popped my head back into the room. “And by the way you have a purple polka dot sweater under your bed.”

Mother screeched and sent feathers flying as the bus blared its horn. “For Chicklord’s sake! Girls, hurry up or you’ll miss the bus!” she snapped.  I simultaneously swung my backpack onto my back and buckled the black nylon strap across my chest, sprinting down the stairs with Alana at my heels.  For a moment I forgot that you needed to keep your feet ahead of your body and fell the rest of the way down the stairs. Alana stepped on my wing with her high heeled claws.  

For Chicklord’s sake! Girls, hurry up or you’ll miss the bus!

“Oops!” She exclaimed putting her wing to her beak. “I’m so sorry!” She drawled. Cackling, she pranced out of the front door onto the street.  My mother looked after her adoringly, vigorously scrubbing an orange in the process. I scrambled up and hurried out the door after my… considerate sister.

The tall daunting shadow of Eggville High cascaded down upon the neat interchangeable nesting boxes; creating a blanket of darkness. I stood on the sidewalk of the school, not quite on campus yet, debating whether to puff up my fathers and walk in or turn and run blustering and  squawking down the street. I concluded that I should perhaps choose the prior option. So taking a beakful of air and straightening my Green Bugs t-shirt I marched up the stairs. Reaching the top with heaving breaths I waddled over to the towering glass doors. Extending my wing to open the door I suddenly found myself lying, beak down, on the pavement. “Oh look who it is!” I expelled a frustrated sigh and prepared myself for the imminent encounter. “I’m glad you finally discovered where you belong.” Alana sneered, her posse encircling her and erupting with ear splitting cackles. I rolled onto my back

“Well I must say it would be much nicer down here if I could look at something beautiful such as the sky,” I sighed longingly for effect “Unfortunately, your face is blocking my view.” I smiled maliciously and in a sudden squawk I flapped my wings as hard as I could and lifted into the air sending feathers and books flying all over the steps. Alana and her friends screamed. Her friends began fussing over her as she collapsed onto the sidewalk as if she had been

And by the way you have a purple polka dot sweater under your bed.

mortally injured. “Have a fantastic day!” I sang feeling quite content as I saw her scornful expression, contorting her makeup caked face. Her eyeballs glaring out from the commotion of feathers and beaks surrounding her. I turned and waddled into the school.

I didn’t see Alana for the remainder of the school day. I assumed she was plotting her deplorable revenge! Which would be enacted by the end of the day. However, when 3 o’clock came I still had seen no sign of Alana. I began to feel concern; an emotion I had never felt towards her before. On my way to the busses I stopped, debating between whether to stay and look around for her or to just go home let her deal with her own problems. I knew she would just leave me even if I was being eaten by hawks. I also knew she was probably just waiting for me to come and find her so she could get me back for embarrassing her in front of the school, but for some reason I decided to stay and look for her.  With a sigh and a last longing look at the busses I began my search for my sister.

I started in the science wing and cautiously peered into a room; preparing for some unidentified goo to be poured onto my back. I pulled my head from the room confused by my gooless body. Peering into the next classroom I was certain I would have no feathers when I pulled my head back out. However, I found myself fully feathered when I peered into the next classroom, and the next, and the next. As I wandered about the school I began to wonder if she was not in fact plotting her revenge and was instead being kidnapped by a hawk or racoon; conceiving a world in which Alana was not constantly bickering and complaining about how awful a sister I was. I thought of how pleasant it would be to wake up and have a peaceful morning, simply dedicated to reading in bed and playing with Chip Chip, the chipmunk I had gotten for my thirteenth birthday.

I heard a locker slam nearby and my attention was drawn back to the empty hallways. Turning my head sideways I was able to see in front of me and behind me; however, there was no chicken, turkey or pheasant in sight. I continued strutting down the hallway, a little faster now. When I reached the end I lengthened my neck and craned it around the corner, looking for any ominous signs. My left claw lifted stealthy from the ground, creating a scratching sound on the tile. A locker next to me flung open and crashed into the wall causing a cavernous echo throughout the hallway; I squacked loudly and soared into the air. I landed back on the ground with one leg, teetering a little before finding my balance. “Oh very funny Alana! Ha Ha” I yelled pursing my beak, I figured she had recorded the reaction and was planning on posting it on CluckChat.

When I received no response I turned to the locker sporting an annoyed expression. Instead of seeing Alana standing in front of the locker I saw a spinning cavernous hole resembling a galaxy. As I looked more closely I saw that the sparkles and stars inside the galaxy were little chickens all spinning and flying in different directions. Alarmed by my discovery I began to slowly back away from the anomaly. Unfortunately, I did not make it more than three steps.  A large eye emerged from the center of the galaxy and began advancing towards me a long elastic looking tendon stretched behind it suspending the eyeball in the air. As it came closer I observed two textured flaps equal in size on the top and bottom of the large eye. These flaps were decorated in scales embellished with jewels and resembled small sparkly pupils. On the very edges of these eyelid like flaps were long feathers stretching over my head and brushing the opposite wall. The eyeball was ebony black and scattered with chickens and ducks, turkeys and pheasants, finches and geese.

When the eyeball was inches from my face it stopped, the tendon protruding from the locker now three or four feet long. The long feathery lashes twisted and angled themselves to lightly caress my waddle and comb. I stared into the vast dark pupil of the eye trying  to focus on the birds zooming about inside. “Well hello there!” I exclaimed confidently, trying to hide my obvious fear. The eye replied with silence examining me as if I was a piece of broccoli on the fork of a young chick. I began to ponder what would happen if the eye decided to blink and a feeling of alarm came over me. As if the eye had read my mind the long lashes began to surround me; encircling my small unimpressive feathers with its long intimidating lashes.

I was standing in a spherical room. The little light there was was emanating from the small jewels that bedazzled the feathery lashes of the eye. I waddled over to the walls of the room and tried to force my claw through the thick web of feathers and jewels; with no luck I went back to the center of the room and sat down, expelling a frustrated squawk. “Well!” I screeched into the darkness. The room began to move and my head was violently thrust backwards hitting the floor. I sputtered, dazed and sat up regaining my composure. “Thanks!” I yelled sarcastically at the walls and with an abrupt stop my head was thrown forward causing my beak to collide with the floor in front of me. I shuffled again into a sitting position, using my wings to support myself. I decided against yelling at the eyeball this time and instead dug my claws into the floor and spread my wings out wide, preparing for another violent motion. I began to notice the feathers creating the floor of the room had begun to shift. The floor of the spherical room disappeared and I was falling into a dark vast space. The birds I had previously seen in the darkness were now whipping by me and violently spinning in all directions. I flapped my wings hopelessly as I fell into the dark abyss below me.

I had been falling for several minutes now and I was beginning to become frustrated with this evil eyeball. Just as I opened my beak to speak I came to a gradual stop; hovering in the darkness. I was completely still and unable to move. The hawks and geese still flying and spinning past me at unimaginable speeds. I noticed the other birds seemed to look stony faced and sullen. Immersed in thoughts of horror. I could feel my eyes grow wide and my heart rate quicken as I contemplated the fate that lay ahead of me. I was abruptly brought back to the reality when my neck was suddenly yanked downwards my body following close behind. I tried to squawk but I was quickly reminded that I no longer had control of my actions.  In a second the disorienting ordeal was over. I looked around; nothing looked different although I could tell I was now hanging upside down like a dead pig in a butcher shop. Once again I started to spin; however, this time the darkness began to disappear and colorful images blurred before my eyes.

Scenes of chickens playing eggball and clawfeathers, laughing and crying. The collage stopped on an image of a chicken resembling my mother. She was sobbing; keeled over in the corner of a room. As I looked closer I saw Alana limp and cold laying on my mothers wings. The image became smaller and slowly faded away. The barrage of pictures began again this time pausing on a dull picture of my home. The scene was intensified and I saw my mother sitting on the porch swing monotonously, advancing forwards before pausing and proceeding backwards again.

I peered through the window and saw myself talking on an old and decrepit looking cellphone. I was vigorously scrubbing dishes and I had a bucket of floor cleaner and laundry detergent at my feet. I observed myself carefully and watched as I glanced at my watch and jumped letting out a small squawk. I peeled off my gloves and threw them in the sink. My attention was drawn to the door of the house as it swung open, crashing into the wall. I noticed a large indent in the shingles where the door had slammed. It seemed as though the door was often violently swung open. I hurried out of the door tearing off my apron. Waddling over to my mother I reached out my wing and touched her comb. I leaned forwards and lightly preened her feathers. My mother seemed to have no response to my affection and when I turned away and bustled down the stairs. My mother remained on the swing with a plaintive expression on her face, slowly advancing forwards and then back.

The images disappeared and I was presented once again with the vast darkness; although, there were no birds. The darkness was empty, void of sound or light. I began falling again and before any feeling could register in my body I was on the tiled floor of the school in front of the now ominous locker that the eyeball had emerged from. I sat down leaning against the locker and contemplated the experience I had just observed. Slowly standing up I shook my head and was comforted by the familiar feeling of my waddle wagging from side to side underneath my chin. I let out an expressive sigh and reluctantly pondered where my sister might be.

I decided to begin with the mall, Alana’s second home. Her daily trips would amount to hours and her treasures would be endless. My ragged sneakers padded against the sidewalk as I journeyed to the mall. The towering concrete building with the tall glass doors loomed overhead. I was certain I would encounter Alana’s wonderful acquaintances. With every step I reminded myself that I had to find my sister, and with every other step I reminded myself how enjoyable my life would be without her. I carried on. When I finally reached the golden rotating glass doors. I began to feel my heart rate quicken. I had never been good at these contraptions and I always questioned their existence. With a deep breath I stepped back and sprinted at the door at full speed. I could feel my legs flying through the air and my reaching outwards. I realized I was perhaps too enthusiastic as my legs had ceased contact with the ground and my path was headed to the concrete wall above the gleaming door. I abruptly stopped flapping my wings and moving my legs and with a large thrust of my neck I tumbled into the rotating door. When the opening was facing the inside of the building I scrambled up and sprinted out looking back at the door with suspicion.

The inside of the mall was draped with white marble. There were no corners in the room. The cavernous building looked like an oversized igloo. The floor was lined with golden straw and on every floor there were private nesting boxes made of oatmeal and corn. Chickens were perched on the railings of the stairs laughing and gossiping with their decorative baskets filled with gifts and clothing. I was frozen with reverence. Encapsulating the beauty and elegance that surrounded me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable in my Green Beans tee-shirt and sweatpants. Disregarding my appearance and the incredible scene around me I bustled to the stairs looking for a purple polka dotted sweater in the crowd.(#4)

After two hours of searching for Alana I decided to depart her castle and advance to the next realm under her reign, the pool house. Alana’s visits here were frequent but short. She would often go to observe the roosters and present her toned thighs.

I opened the door to the pool house expecting to find Alana preening some rooster she had meet at the mall. When I heard the screams I thought she was playing “catch me if you can” with her new lover. When I looked up; however, I saw a scene I never could have imagined. A rooster in a black tight knit sweater was maliciously tying industrial nesting boxes to Alana’s feet. “Alana!” I squaked. The rooster froze. He slowly lifted his head and mechanically turned it towards me. When he moved his tail feather I saw Alana’s face limp and scratched lying on the cement.

“And who might you be?” The rooster questioned, calculating my size and strength. I stared at him and stepped forward. “Would you happen to have a name?” I stared at him and stepped forward again. I was weighing the textbooks in my backpack. “Not much of a talker ay?” He blabbered on. I felt my eyes narrow and my feathers quiver. With a swift motion I slid my backpack off my wings and unzipped it, pulling out my Oral Health textbook. My wings expanded, sweeping the floor. I charged at him, hatred boiling in my gizzard. I barreled towards him like a hurricane. My beak opened wide and I began to swing the textbook across my chest. I was a few feet away now, I was encouraged by the look of terror on his face. When the book met his face he bubblered and spat. With a powerful flap of my wings he was blown into the pool.

I ran over to Alana and touched her wing. “Alana?” I cried. She did not stir. Throwing down my textbook I began CPR and beak to beak resuscitation following the steps I had learned in class. After the eighth set I began to give up hope. I leaned back on my claws and felt a hot tear run down my feathers, creating a small canyon on my cheek.

I understood now. Why the eye had shown me what it did. I never thought I would miss her. Not until now.

Alana’s screech startled me. “Who did this! WHO DID THIS!” She was staring at her face in the puddles of water. “This will take weeks to heal!” she screeched.

“Alana.” I cooed softly. She looked around confused by the voice. Her eyes met mine and the dazed expression left her face. She turned her head to the pool her eyes leaving mine last. I watched as understanding swept over her face. She fell into me and I realized she was hugging me. I wrapped my wings around her and rocked her back and forth. We stayed there for what felt like years, encaptured in eachothers wings creating warmth in the cold cement room.