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Friday, August 17, 2012 by Marianne Elliott

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While I’m on this silent writing retreat, I’m just going to post some of my morning writing practices. They may have nothing to do with what I usually write about here. Except that they are about the process of writing.

Ten minute writing practice – prompt: Chickens

I was afraid of my mother’s chickens.  I sometimes feel I was afraid of everything back then. I was afraid of the bulls in the paddock I had to walk through to feed the chickens, even though my father told me there was nothing to be scared of because he didn’t put the dangerous bulls in the house paddock.

And I was afraid of the chickens. I was afraid that one day they would get their revenge on me for stealing their eggs every day. I didn’t like to reach underneath them when they were roosting, afraid they would peck or scratch me to defend their eggs. So I would tempt them outside by loudly shaking their food out onto the floor and into the metal feeder made out of an old milk barrel lid. As soon as they came out of the coop I would run inside with my empty ice-cream container.

Their nests were really just wooden shelves built by my father or, more likely, my grandfather, and filled with straw. When I picked them up, some of the eggs were still warm from the chicken’s bodies. Some had little smears of chicken shit on them, or tiny fluffy white feathers stuck to them. I would place them carefully into the ice-cream container, careful not to let them crash into each other.

On the way back through the bull paddock I wondered whether, if a bull charged me, it would be okay to drop the eggs and run. Because more than the chickens or even the bulls, I was afraid of being bad. I was afraid that Jesus would come back again to gather up my parents and sisters and everyone I loved in the rapture. I was afraid I would be left behind.

I was afraid of the rivers of blood and plagues of terrible diseases that would come after that. I was afraid of being alone – the only member of my family not good enough to be with God – for the apocalypse.

More than chickens or bulls, more than anything, I was afraid of not being good.



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