Hardly Noticeable

Thursday, October 27, 2005


They were muddy before we got out there, I know it now. They must have been. It’s the only way it makes sense. His impassivity, no rage, nothing. The I that I am now knows that the he that he was and still is was the he who destroyed my garden. A week before we moved back to the city the police picked up the teenagers who had killed the chickens. Rather, one of the teens’ parents overheard them talking about it and put two and two together, as my mother had put notices up in the grocery store. But the teens never mentioned the garden, not in the police report, I know it. My father must have gone outside and saw his chickens destroyed and decided to continue destroying. Perhaps it was like the dent, what else could he do? Those boots must have been muddy before we got out there. They had to be.

I walked into the garden and began digging a grave for the chickens while my father was behind the house washing his hands. I heard the door open and saw my mother standing silently, her mouth agape. When my father came back around the house she asked what happened.
“Some kids, maybe they were mad at the rooster. I don’t know,” my father answered.
“Yeah, that’s just terrible. Are you going to bury the chickens? Maybe in the boy’s garden?” she asked.
“What? Hell no, we’re going to eat them. That’s what I was going to do anyway. I mean, look at it this way: at least I don’t have to chop their heads off.”
I heard him say it and stopped digging. A sharp pain cut into my sides, the knowledge that everything I’d done during the summer was worthless. It all ended in destruction. I was left with the massacre, the waste of my ambition, the shame that followed me like a shadow. There shouldn’t have been shame, the shame should have been all his, but it was mine. There was nothing I could say or do. What I did made no difference to the vandals who killed the chickens or the vandal who destroyed my creation.
“Yeah, that sounds good,” my mother said.
“I’m damn sad about that cock, though. It was a good cock.”
Tired of standing there and thinking, I walked toward the henhouse. It was the one thing that had been spared in the previous night’s events. The teenagers were much too clever to destroy the relative calm of the previous night with the sounds of hammers and axes. My mother went back inside, my father to the garage to gut and pluck the chickens.
By now I’d been awake for approximately two hours and the whole time had been filled with sadness and loss. I had the thought that this was the future course of my life, that my sine wave would forget to curve back up to the positive and I’d be stuck below the x-axis. I wanted to get rid of the thoughts, but they grew like withered daisies in a field of sand.
The henhouse smelled of hay and chicken waste, the scents mingling like incense in my nostrils, allowing me to commune with the chickens. The light cast crooked shadows through the interior. The hay was dispersed in clumps and piles on the floor. As I searched through the wreckage of this once-proud home, I noticed the tidiness of the nests. And there, in the nest nearest to the door, I found an egg of unimpressive size and shape. It was not white, but rather the color of wet beach sand. I pulled it from the nest, gripping it softly, and it was warm to the touch, having been heated by the sun throughout the morning. I studied the egg with a scientist’s eye, trying to pull a hypothesis from the data at hand. I knew that the destruction of my father’s property was significant. I also knew that someone who wanted to do that much damage must surely have wanted to anger whomever it was that he was doing the damage to. Yet, here was an egg that had escaped my father’s collecting, and the vandals had not thrown it at the house. It was witness to both its mother’s and father’s murder, and now it was in my hand. I felt that I was responsible for whatever this egg meant, whether it be some sort of sign from God or Pan. The instant I had picked it up I knew that it was infused with life: there was something about the way it felt in my fingertips, like the cool electricity from the soil of the garden on my feet. And I knew that the life was given into my hand, was my responsibility. My father would not understand, so I could not give it to him. At the time I was sure that the vandals were trying to hurt my father and that my garden had just been a noncombatant casualty: the destruction of the garden did not have any of the sadistically artistic touches of the chickens’ demise.
I stared at the egg, noticing the miniscule freckles spotting its surface. Though at first glance it had looked like its shell was a uniform brown, upon closer inspection I realized its surface was mottled, full of character and uniqueness. One freckle looked as though it were a frog; another was in the shape of a sheep with only two legs; seven of them taken together looked like the big dipper; another seven revealed a rudimentary Orion. My grandfather had bought me a book on the constellations for my birthday that year, and I figured that by connecting all the far-flung freckles together I would be able to construct a map of the night sky on the egg. First, however, I needed to know if the life I believed to exist inside the egg was truly there. I put the egg inside the pockets with the rose petals and called my grandfather on the telephone.


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