This morning’s awakening was heralded by a soft, undulating call in the pre-dawn air. I thought at first it was a young coyote, trying out her voice, skating it across the frost that blanketed outside — then several more joined it, and I realized it was my friend’s chickens.
The cold that came in to my lungs as I took deep, waking breaths contrasted with the toasty warmth in my limbs, covered by an old sleeping bag. My friend, awake now too, stomped on his boots and headed outside to feed today’s velociraptors.
I’d slept on the couch, which was comfortable if drafty. Only a few hours, yet I was rested, which pleased me; this morning I had an appointment to get my laptop fixed at the Apple store.
Before leaving my friend’s house I got to take a bit of a walk in the cold air. The ground was covered in white, slick frost, that crunched under my feet and my cane. My friend had an earlier appointment and so left before I did.
As I stood and scraped at the frost on my windshield, my car running to warm it up for a winter morning’s drive, I felt beady eyes watching me, boring into my back, my soul. I turned.
A chicken had escaped the fencing. She stared at me, bobbing her head to and fro, daring me to come after her.
I couldn’t leave her escaped. I had to put her back. Running late already, I hurried over to catch her and put her back over the fence.
She ran, weaving like a drunk ptarmigan over the cold earth as her head turned, right, left, right, left, her eyes trying to stay on me while she ran away.
I’m not fast on a good day and I’d left my cane in the car. I chased this chicken around for 10 minutes, yelling at her, telling her to come here godsdammit, calling her featherbrain. The rest of the chickens stared at me with cold eyes and suddenly I felt I knew what it was to be Link from the Legend of Zelda.
The chicken I chased spooked, eventually, and decided she wanted back into her pen. Yet she could not make the flight — however she’d escaped, it’d not been over the fence, and now she flapped up against where it met the bushes, trying desperately to get away from me.
I gained on her now she was in one place, more or less, and grabbed at her several times, shoving myself into the bushes as I tried to grab her gently but firmly. She panicked more and kept flapping away, squawking vociferously her protest at my obviously cruel treatment of her. Her friends joined in the chorus, henpecking me for daring to try and keep her from crossing the road to an untimely demise.
Finally I grabbed her without injury (to either of us, miracle of miracles) and tossed her back over the short but too-tall-for-her fence. She ran to her cronies and they crowded around her, muttering chicken versions of “There, there, dear, it’s alright,” before moving onto plotting my death.
I rolled my eyes and muttered: “You’re not dinosaurs. You’re dinner,” and picked the burrs off my sweater as fast I could before getting back into the car, now defrosted. It was time for my appointment.
Generations from now, they shall hail me:
Katje. Writer of Words. Chaser of Chickens.
Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge.