Today is Pet Day, which happens during Active Dog Month. I’m going to go with Pet Day because my dogs are all seniors, and while they have short bursts of activity, those bursts end in naps. Sort of like me. Lots of people are adopting or fostering pets these days, which is great as long as they don’t turn them back to the shelters when the apocalypse finally ends. These are living creatures, people, they attach.
This reminds me of a piece of story that sort of floated by a brain cell the other day. I have no idea who these people are, they don’t even have names, but by god the chicken got a name. Animals (and birds) are people, too. Hug a pet today.
She thought seriously about throwing something at him, he was being such a pain in the ass, but he was also going to make soup, and despite his grave shortcomings as a human being he was an excellent cook, so she stifled herself until he went out the back door. Then she went back to work on the kitchen, rehearsing scathing things to say to him after the soup was done and they’d eaten and she was full.
Ten minutes later he came back, vegetables in hand and a chicken at his feet.
“Shoo,” she said as the chicken strutted across her nice, newly clean floor.
He shook his head. “Don’t shoo, that’s dinner.”
“Dinner?” She looked down at the chicken who looked back at her, dumb as a rock but definitely alive. She almost said, “You’re going to kill that chicken ???!!” but she knew that would get her nothing but contempt. Of course, he was going to kill that chicken. Chickens were where chicken soup came from.
“Is that a problem?” he said, and she knew he was waiting for her to say something dumb about not killing chickens which was going to get her nowhere because he’d seen her tear into a chicken sandwich the day before.
“Well, it’s certainly a problem for Margaret.” She stuck her chin in the air, not sure where the “Margaret” had come from, but committed now. “She’s been producing eggs all these years like a champ and now you’re just going to off her because you have a hankering for poultry stew. No loyalty for the working class.” She looked back down at Margaret and had an insane moment wondering if Margaret had any organizing skills. If Margaret and her biddies went on strike . . .
Well, no, if they stopped producing eggs, they’d all be soup.
Also Margaret looked like she wasn‘t sure she could find the back door again. Organizing a chicken co-op was clearly beyond–
“Margaret,” he said.
She nodded. “Margaret is the sweetheart of Sigma Chick. Heart of gold.” She smiled down at the chicken.
Margaret looked back at her blankly.
Not a lot of personality, she thought, but clearly . . .
Clearly Margaret was a chicken and that was the extent of it.
He dumped the vegetables in the sink and said, “Wash those,” and walked back out the door.
Margaret followed, a feathered puppy at his heels.
We who are about to die have no clue . . .
She began to scrub the dirt off the veg, feeling vaguely sad because now that she’d named the chicken, the damn bird really was Margaret, and Margaret had just strutted out the door to her death. From now on, don’t name the chickens, she told herself. Don’t name anything, and then she looked at the carrot in her hand and thought, Fred.
Fred couldn’t look back, no eyes, so that had no impact.
Don’t name the potatoes.
Half an hour later, she had the vegetables scrubbed and stacked on the cutting board, no names, and the dishes washed and the pots scrubbed, and was getting ready to leave when the back door opened again, and he came in, looking grim as always, a plucked chicken corpse in his hand.
“Oh, god, Margaret,” she said, only half kidding.
“No.” He pointed down at his feet.
When she looked down, Margaret was there, still dumb as a rock, but definitely still breathing, too.
“This,” he said, dropping the carcass into the sink, “is Portia.”
“I found her dying of old age in the henhouse.”
She blinked at him, and he met her eyes, sober and stern-faced as ever. “Her last words were ‘I want to be soup.’”
She bit down hard on her lip. Making jokes about a dead chicken. What was wrong with him?
What was wrong with her? She’d alnost laughed.
Instead she shook her head. “That Portia. Always a giver.”
Then she escaped out of the kitchen, leaving him alone with Margaret and the last of Portia, so she could laugh where he wouldn’t see her.
It was what he deserved.
Tell me you didn’t make chicken soup today. IT’S PET DAY.
Have a nice salad. No eyes.