by Lloyd Jenkinson
a cup of chicken broth
You know what it’s like at this time of year. New Year’s resolutions that just never get done. Well I’d been chatting to the turkeys just before Christmas and they told me “Just take the risk, life could be even better. Just cross that road.” They seem to have gone away now and so have the geese. Perhaps they’ve crossed the road. Anyway, I had just been too busy laying eggs and just never got round to thinking about it. “Today’s the day” I thought you’ve just got to do it. Before I knew it the rains came down and the road was a duck pond. Never took those swimming lessons even though the ducks offered. My feet just didn’t seem right. I didn’t have any flippers like they did and I was never that keen on getting wet either. So, it would just have to be another day. Those duck ponds just kept coming and going. One day we even had a lake, so that put paid to my plans. I just sat in the hutch pushing out the eggs thinking one day I might have a lovely chick or two. The egg fairy seemed to get them before I could and she never left anything either. Skinflint. I did think it was pointless laying all those eggs but I just couldn’t stop.
I got an inkling that today might be the day. The night sky had been red, green and yellow and it was doing really strange things. Whore-ori Boar-ee- arselick or something like that. My spelling was never that good and I am a bloody chicken after all. The humans got so excited about it. Seemed like a message from the Gods. Didn’t want to tell them it was just due to solar flares – anyway I am a chicken, so what would I know. As the sun rose the clouds became deep crimson framed by the pallid blue sky. I had also become a poet so, yes, it seemed to be the right day. I ran out of the coop, stretched my wings and scratched the earth. I gave the cock a dirty look just as he was about to open his beak. I didn’t want my moment ruining by his caterwauling. For once he closed it. The morning air was fresh and moist and made my feathers look great – just like I had put conditioner on them. I ran at the fence flapping my wings wildly, they must work or what’s the point –not much meat on them anyway. I was about ten feet away from freedom and felt my claws lift off the ground. I sank back again but more flapping and I was off. Floating skywards like a sack of potatoes and I landed like one on the other side of the fence. I was free. I staggered to my claws, preened my feathers and comb, and raised my beak proudly. I would cross the road today.
I ran across the farm yard, squeezed underneath the gate and stood there. A vast expanse of smooth black stuff stretched before me. The road. I turned to my left and the black river ran down the valley. I looked right and it ran up the hill. This, indeed, was a special place and so big. This is what I had been waiting to cross all those months. I stretched out a claw timidly. The road was hard and cold. Not like the soft grass and mud of home. Is this what I really want? I pulled back and strutted around not knowing what to do, my head bobbing up down as it does. I am a chic..… you get it now. I scratched around a bit and clucked, wanting someone to just give me a push. I looked across the road and could see Mr Fox in the field. He stood staring at me and I swear he was licking his lips as he did. Only ever seen him before through the fence and he always looked pissed off to me. Don’t know why. He crawled under the hedge and stood on the other side of the road just looking at me, saliva dribbling from his mouth like a waterfall.
I shouted “What’s its like over there?” but he took no notice and said nothing. Perhaps he doesn’t understand chicken. I tried again clucking slowly and loudly but it made no difference, he just dribbled more. I tried bobbing up and down, and even doing a strutting dance, but it just seemed to get him more excited. He crouched down ready to spring and I thought “Well that’s what you have to do” and did the same. I didn’t look lady like at all and I just couldn’t get my claws right. He must have done this loads of times as he visited us almost every night so I knew he must be an expert. I would do just what he did. I could hear a low whining noise coming up the hill but didn’t see anything. Mr Fox wasn’t bothered so I wasn’t either. Suddenly he stood up and jumped towards me. I wasn’t as quick him so was still struggling to get to my claws. Before I knew it that noise had got louder and this bright red thing with black round feet thundered past us. I had never seen anything move so fast and stayed glued to the spot. I remember Mr Fox was gliding majestically through the air towards me, then there was a thud, and he was gone. The red box screamed loudly and stopped. Before I knew it humans came out and started walking towards me. “Quick,” I thought, “do some clucking and bob up and down. They might not notice you.” A little further up the road from where Mr Fox took off was a patch of orange and white fur covered in a strange red sauce. Attached to it was something that looked like Mr Fox’s tail. “Bloody foxes” the humans said, then climbed back into the red box and disappeared, the roaring noise going with them. I looked around and Mr Fox had gone. It’s a shame, he really could have told me what it was like to cross the road.