Why the chickens crossed the road
The garage door closed before I noticed the glowing box in the corner. “No, it can’t be.”
I peered past the warming light at a chirping mass of yellow. The chicks crowded under the protection of the heat as I stared.
One chick broke free and chirped in my direction. A smile cracked through my tight lips, why are baby things so adorable? It’s like the enticing cheese that sits on top of the mouse trap.
In came my son. “Aren’t they cute?”
All I could ask in my stunned state was, “How many are there?”
My husband had briefly mentioned he wanted some chickens but he said it so causal, I’d mistaken it for a pipe dream, something like: “Yeah, I would love some chickens.”
Well, I would love a new washer and dryer, and to knock out the laundry room wall to expand it for a mud room.
But now, sitting in my garage were living creatures that needed care. Not four or six, but twelve!
Later my husband explained, “I was planning on a few casualties.”
I murmured as I watched my excited child cup the yellow bundle next to his chest. “I guess they’re kinda sweet.” I said.
Before long, the cute chirping creatures were freed outside to roam. Satisfaction oozed from every pore of my husband’s body as he watched them wander the yard, as if he lived in the time when man and beast coexisted peacefully.
I didn’t share in this gratification, if I sported feathers, like my feathered friends, they’d be in a consent ruffle.
Being a professional carpenter, my husband crafted a deluxe coop that nestled on the hillside backing our property. He reused materials from past jobs, like a closet rod for them to perch on while they looked out the wired window. He also embellished the roof in a bright red metal. Snow and rain slid off the surface like the drool from a teething toddler.
The drought swallowed the river. Maggie stood on the old iron bridge mission the watery haven she enjoyed as a child. The year she’d left for college the water splashed passed the old sign which read: Built 1891, Youngstown Ohio.
Maggie glanced at the crisscrossed metal overhead. Like a time capsule, visions of Jeffery dangling from the top bar as if he were a monkey came flooding back.
Regret filled her heart, those times had withered away like the river. Why did she worry so much about growing up to be the successful business woman? She had floated over the rapids of childhood like a visitor, and yet Jeffery anchored himself down to enjoy every moment.
Maggie stared at the sign that reminded her of her youth. “Why did I want this life so badly?” Success brought responsibility that at times felt lie a current of water holding her under.
Beneath the sign poked the corner of a box. Maggie recognized it and took off her high-heels to run down the riverbank. A choking cloud of dust blackened her grey slacks. She didn’t care.
Clods of debris flew into her long blond hair, “Why’d Jeffery hide it here?” Her manicured nails were caked with dirt as she dug for the release of this familiar treasure.
Jeffery carried this wooden Crayola box every time they visited the river. She teased him about the valuables he stuffed inside. Never did she think he’d part with it.
The box finally came loose from its grave. Maggie opened it to see three familiar items inside. One by one she lifted them out.
THE CHANCE OF KNOWING
Tara had fifteen minutes to make it to work, so there was no way to avoid the railroad. When she turned left, she saw the towering guard rail and sign, “Please don’t flash red.”
For nearly three months she’d steered clear of the tracks. The closer she drove the more feverish she felt. She tried to roll down her broken window but her sweaty hands and weak grip made it impossible. Her foot weighed down the petal. “Not now, Tara. It will all work out.”
Her foot slipped and the car lagged, spilling her protein shake over her new running shoes. “Crap.” She leaned over to wipe the chocolate film off the carpet and pick up the shoe. The time on dashboard made her heart beat faster. She had no time to waste.
A blue pickup truck pulled in front of her and she couldn’t see past the camper shell. “Oh man, I can’t see the spruce tree. Goosebumps crawled up her arm and a vision flashed before her eyes of a little boy picking up rocks to throw between the railroad tracks.
“No!” Tara yelled, shaking her head. The illusion faded. “This is different.” Tara denied the possibility of seeing this boy while awake.
The sweet innocence of the golden haired child haunted Tara the most. Dreams weren’t reality, but Tara had avoided this area to make sure.
Without warning, the truck stopped. Tara slammed on her brakes to avoid hitting the back bumper. A loud screech echoed in her ears.
The bell rang as the cross arm dropped.
“In three weeks, I’ll treat you to a magical night in the sky.” Steve grabbed Kylee’s waist and spun her in the air.
Kylee swung her arms around his neck, “What, do you have your own plane?”
Steve chuckled as he put her back on the ground. “Actually, I own a hot-air balloon.” He smiled, “Sailing in the sky is so mystical.”
She couldn’t swallow around the lump in her throat and her hands went clammy.
“Oh to have you in my arms way above the clouds.” He pulled her into his chest. “You’ll be amazed at how refreshing the air is.”
Breathing wouldn’t be something Kylee would be doing while dangling thousands of miles in the air, just the thought of being trapped in a hot-air balloon could force her into hives.
Steve nibbled on her ear. “The annual hot air balloon festival is in Albuquerque, in three weeks.” “So soon?” Kylee stepped away from his touch.
Steve frowned. “Is something wrong?”
“No, nothing’s wrong. In three weeks then.” She didn’t want to lose him. He was everything she wanted; gentle, caring, and yet playful, so she hugged him again and he put his warm lips over hers.
Living it Up
I kicked my leg out expecting it to hang over the edge of the bed but it didn’t. I opened my eyes. A Queen size bed?
But I owned a twin.
A drum set in the dark corner. I jumped off the bed in alarm.
Merideth insisted I visit the “new” dance club with her on fortieth. We randomly danced with anyone close to us, but that’s all I recalled at the moment. It hurt to think.
I rubbed my head and winched. It felt like someone had shoved a tennis ball up through my ear canal.
My purse? I untwisted my Lucky Jeans and straightened my red silk blouse. Details of leaving the club blurred in my brain.
I lifted the sheets. No purse, but then again I couldn’t see much in the dim light escaping from the hall. I needed more answers before barging through the house.
Wishing for my phone, I wondered what time it was.
Unsure, I stumbled over a pile clothes on the way to the dresser where a huge dirt bike trophy stood. The gold plate only listed a date. No name. I picked up the worn Dirt Rider magazine for an address and name. Nothing.
My heart raced once I saw the black tarp covering the window. A tarp? Fear crept from my gut confusing my mind. Maybe a drug got slipped into my drink. Worry took over. I wasn’t the party type like Merideth.
Walking toward the window, I tripped over a helmet on the floor. Dirt peppered my toes. “How did I let Merideth talk me into this?”
My forehead wrinkled as I fought off tears, this only made my head pound in pain. “I should’ve never let my guard down.”
We did everything together that’s why it doesn’t make any sense. Where would she go? And why? Me and Myself wondered. Things started getting rough but we’ve always been able to pull through together. Yet I was lost.
Memories were the only thing keeping Myself afloat. Reliving the time we all graduated college and went on that trip helped. We kept the sunroof down, let the wind blow our hair, sang every song on the radio at the top of our lungs. We were really free for the first time. Nothing could be better. Even though we were in the car for hours on end, we never tired of each other. During our trip, we stayed up late every night and ate anything we wanted. We actually watched a few of the movies we started. It was golden. Laughing, crying, and laughing some more.
Oh, to be carefree like that again.
Time sped by but we all stuck together through thick and thin. Then something made her break. Maybe it was when all her schooling didn’t land her in the career she wanted which meant less pay and minimal opportunities. And then financial strain at home intensified with having to pay off loans. Or maybe it was the last surgery. The recovery took longer than planned. She even got to the point where she’d rather stay inside and watch a movie. Reading books almost took too much effort.
Thinking back though, it might have stemmed more from the time I second guessed Myself, and that’s when we noticed the subtle changes. Skipped gatherings and socials happened more and more. The last family reunion I was nowhere to be found. Mingling didn’t help; Me, and Myself talked, but that was it. It just didn’t seem as satisfying as when we were all there happily together.