Bird of a Different Feather

Published on 19th April 2018

            I wiped the remaining olive oil off of my lips. I had just cooked this great new quiche recipe from the Martha Stewart magazine. She was back from prison and better than ever! One might even say her quiche recipe was life-changing. Prison. Wow, I couldn’t imagine being sent to prison, what it must have been like… I quickly thought back to my childhood remembering the young girl I had known that had been sent to jail. I was never quite sure what did come of her though I was certain it was not good.

            She was weird. Odd. Never fit in. I remember sitting in English class quietly listening to the teacher, and I would look over and she would just be sitting there like a statue. It was rather frightening. The kids in my class used to make bets on who could get her move. They began throwing spitballs at her, the teacher never noticed or stopped them until they started throwing pushpins. But she still never moved… Gosh. I can’t even remember her name. But I guess it doesn’t matter, I’ll never see her again.

            Anyways, I had at least three classes with her, and though she never said anything I was always very aware of her presence, everyone was. She never seemed to express any emotion, not even sadness. In science when it came time to dissect frogs all the girls in my class started screeching with disgust. Especially me, I never was good with those kinds of things. But this girl, she grabbed the scalpel and just cut, with no emotion, no care, her eyes were just glass staring at this dead creature. The sight gave me chills. It gave all of us chills.

            Some days she just wouldn’t come into school, no one was quite sure why. Rumors spread, people started saying she had mad cow disease, some said she lived alternate lives, people even said she was just hiding in the janitor’s closet. None of us could have predicted the real reason for her absences.

            This day I remember… it was a Wednesday. She wasn’t at school, and back in those days you weren’t just able to access your homework online, some one had to collect it for you. Now, me and the other kids used to play nose goes for who had to collect the girl’s homework. And this fine Wednesday it was me.  I walked to her house, and I immediately I regretted it, she lived way out in the middle of nowhere. Getting to her house cost me an hour of my time and the appearance of my brand new mary jane shoes.

            When I got to her house the first thing I saw was the mailbox, broken and rusty… I wasn’t surprised. I heard a rumor that she didn’t even have parents. Her house was pink with the paint peeling off. The door was covered in dust and I felt like I was going to be the first one to knock on it in years. It took me a while to muster up the courage, but I did knock. There was no answer. Part of me wanted to leave, but something inside of me pushed me to go around the back of the house.

            The back of the house was uglier than the front, the grass was half dead and went up to my knees. I could feel the bugs inching their way up my calves. I approached the house and looked inside the biggest window I could find. The inside of the house looked unsettlingly normal. There was a nice fluffy couch and a coffee table with a bowl of fruit on it, yet no sign of people. I started walking away, ready to leave the house when I found a shed. Compared to the exterior of the house, the shed was in great condition.

             I started walking towards the shed, my feet crunching the grass as I sped up. I got about ten feet away from the shed before I heard a large screech. The sound pierced my ears. I couldn’t tell if it was coming from a human. I fearfully approached the shed and pushed the door open. There she was. The girl. Just laying there surrounded by feathers. We were both kind of quiet. I didn’t know what to say. She was the first one to speak, “Who are you?”

            “Oh… uh, I go to your school… we have English, science, and history together.” I stuttered, I honestly had never actually talked to her before.

            “Oh” she responded. It was awkward. I wasn’t quite sure what exactly was going on. I don’t think she was either. Let me remind you I was in eighth grade and tended to draw my own conclusions. “Did you just eat a whole chicken!?!?” I asked, fearful of the answer.

            “No” she said with no emotion in her face. We both just stood there for a few minutes. I began to get closer to her, to give her the work I had collected, but when I approached something strange happened. It flashed by so quickly. I wasn’t even sure of what I had seen. It was her neck. In a flash of an instant it had turned red and seemed as though her entire head had shrunk. But then things were normal again. We made quick eye contact before I cut in with “here’s your homework.” I dropped it and ran out. I wasn’t sure what had happened and I didn’t want to think about it, but when my friend called me later that night I spilled it all.

            It didn’t take long for the rumors to spread, people claiming they too had been there, claiming she tried to kill me, people even started accusing her of witchery. I remember our next history class after she came back to school. We were learning the Salem witch trials. Ironic, wasn’t it? All of us preoccupied by the rumors, couldn’t focus on what was happening in the class. Our teacher decided the best way to capture our attention was through a demonstration. The girl was sitting in the front row, just staring at the floor like usual. This day, our teacher decided to call on her for the demonstration. He pointed at her “You are going to be the accused witch, I am the judge, and that is your jury.” He said gesturing his hand towards the sea of students. The trial began as quickly as it ended. The kids in the class started shouting stuff like “WITCH!” or “Hang her!” The room quickly flooded with kid’s shouts. I was looking around… I wasn’t really sure what to do. Before I could decide between shouting or not I was pushed up to the front of the classroom.

            All of the kids in the class got up from their seats and created a circle around me and the girl. I was hoping my teacher would step in, but when I looked over, he seemed delighted by our passion. The moment blurred, I couldn’t get out of the circle, the kids kept shouting. All I really remember was the look on the girl’s face. Blank. No expression, I was on the verge of tears and I wasn’t even the one being yelled at. She was just staring at the ground. Staring blankly. Then it happened. I saw again what I had seen in that shed, but only this time it lasted. It wasn’t just a flash before my eyes, it happened. A screech pierced my ears. The girl was gone, but the screech continued. My eyes drifted down and my jaw dropped. Her body was gone, and what was remaining was in the form of a chicken.

            It was running around. The circle dispersed. Kids started climbing up on desks, some even started throwing pencils at it. Part of me didn’t believe it was real. It ran and ran all around the classroom, screeching and clucking. Feathers were flying everywhere as it got madder and madder. Some kids tried to catch it with their hands but it was too fast. One kid got really close to catching it, but the chicken quickly responded with one peck to the boy’s hand. Blood dropped to the floor. The kid started screaming,  “It bit me! It bit me!” It didn’t take long for a chant to emerge in the classroom “Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!” Chaos broke out with kids screaming everywhere, calling their parents crying. But then something obscure happened. The chicken stopped running and just stood there. It’s head turned straight over and looked at me. I could feel its eyes looking deep into my soul. It was a cry for help. Slowly, the chicken got closer to the desk I was standing on.

            I wasn’t really sure how to the react. The whole class got quiet.  As they watched the chicken approach me. I could still feel its eyes staring at me, but I avoided eye contact. I thought for a moment and decided for the first time to look into its eyes. When I did, something inside of me clicked. The chicken was the girl. Chickens in the eyes of humans are dead even before they are alive; but when the girl became the chicken, she was more alive than she had ever was as a girl. It felt like we were frozen there, she was looking at me and I was looking at her. A calming rush took over my entire body.

            The rush didn’t last for long. I suddenly heard a huge crash followed by the screech of the girl. I looked over to the door to see at least four men standing on top of our newly broken down door. The door was unlocked, but I guess the men never checked to see if they could open it. I looked around for the girl, only to discover she was no longer in the form of a chicken. The girl was laying on the ground of the classroom looking at me. When I looked back, I felt nothing. It was just blank. The men grabbed the girl off of the floor and put a zip tie around her wrists. She didn’t react or struggle, she just followed their orders. As she was escorted out of the room the kids in my class were silent. When they could tell she had reached the end of the hallway the class broke out into applause.

            We got out of school early that day. By the next day, things were back to normal. Classes continued. After a week no one even spoke about it anymore.

            I thought it was all over, almost a year later I was in my dad’s office, it was then I came across a newspaper from earlier that week. I flipped through the pages and was shocked when I read the headline “Chicken Girl Escapes From Prison.” A smile grew on my face. The last sentence of the article read, “Once more is found out, new information will be provided to the public.” For the next month I read the newspaper everyday, waiting up for a follow up story. After twenty-three days another article was published. It was in the back of the paper in tiny almost illegible font. It was titled “Chicken Girl Winds up at Slaughterhouse.” I couldn’t bring myself to read the article. I didn’t want to read it.

            The people in my town never spoke of the girl. I seemed to be the only one who still thought about her. Part of me still doesn’t believe any of it ever happened.

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