by Taylor Martin 

Pequena rustled in my arms, I tussled to calm her down. The looks from my schoolmates spelled disgust, dirty gazes at her dirt covered feathers. I ignored them all. In the midst of all them lied a murderer. I knew it. Pequena knew it. She let out a faint cluck, her big eyes targeting a ginger kid with a stack of books. I veered right to him, so close I could’ve counted his freckles. He stared at Pequena.

“Um…” his plump body jiggled like Jell-O as we focused on his every move. “Hey there little… chicken…”

The boy jumped as I snapped at him, freckles turning pale.

“You address her as Pequena.”

Pequena made no noise, but jerked her head back towards me. I stepped back, allowing the boy to continue down the hallway, which he did with haste. The bell rang, marking the end of this round of investigations.

I ducked into class, scanning the room. My classmates were settling in their seats when they noticed Pequena, giving her looks. Pequena spazzed every so often, but never clucked. A smack of a ruler from the front of the room interrupted the walk to my desk.

“Excuse me, Manny?” Mrs. Kindley held the ruler like a whip, pointing it straight at Pequena. “But that creature will not be tolerated in my-”

I slammed Pequena onto the teachers desk, her claws scuffing up the old wood. My classmates all stared in shock. I ignored them. Mrs. Kindley snapped her ruler towards the door. “Office.”

A muffled landline rang against principal Nimoy’s ear, practically pressed into the fat of his cheek. Between rings, the three of us sat in total silence, exchanging glances.

“Hello, Mrs. Manilla, this is Principal Nimoy from school…” He turned to me, blinking a couple of times through his big, square glasses as if he were taking mental photographs. “Yes I have your son, uh, Manny here with me… as well as a chicken.”

“Pequena.” I quickly corrected him. “You address her as Pequena.”

Principal Nimoy slowly turned back to the call. “It’s name is… Pequena.” After Principal Nimoy carefully explained the situation, as not to get it mistaken, he hung up the phone. He tried to read me, scanning his eyes up and down from me to Pequena.

“Usually,” he leaned back, having given up trying to figure me out for the moment, “I can get a pretty good sense of a student’s behavior just by looking at them.” His eyes squinted momentarily. “But I’m gonna need an explanation for this one.”

I sat silently, staring at Pequena as she studied Principal Nimoy studying her.

“For better understanding.”
“Pequena laid an egg yesterday.” My head didn’t move, only my jaw. “She hadn’t laid one before.”
“Well, that’s… that’s normal. Chickens do that.”
“This morning it was gone.”

Pequena squirmed a little bit when I said this.

“I see… well… oh how do I put this… what’d you have for breakfast?”
“Eggs.” My eyes remained laser focused on his. “We have a chicken farm, why wouldn’t we eat eggs?”

Principal Nimoy looked upon my stone cold stature and listened to my straight forward response as if I were speaking in another language. “And you don’t think little… Pequena’s egg got mixed up with the rest of them?”

“The chicken farm belongs to my family, but Pequena is mine. Noone in the house had the right to that egg.”

Pequena, now quivering, looked to me for what I can only assume was comfort. “The loss of your kin is not normal Principal, and it never will be.” I tried to soothe Pequena, who had curled up as much as she could. “I need to find out who.” We both shifted our focus to Pequena. “For her sake.”

A look of compassion crossed Principal Nimoy’s face. “Well then, let me be the first to apologize to you both for your loss.”

Pequena lifted her head up in a slightly twitchy manner.

“I do hope you find your culprit, but I can’t let you investigate here.” There was a soft knock at the door, Principal Nimoy lifted the large amount of himself from his desk to let them in. Mother silently walked in the door.

“Sweetie, I know you’re upset, but Pequena needs to come home.”

Principal Nimoy gave me a gentle nod. I stood from my chair and presented Pequena to her. She was snug in my arms, still as a statue, until the moment her twitching eyes landed on Mother’s. She flapped and flailed her wings, attempting an escape. I pulled her away from Mother, wrestling to keep her calm. When Mother reached to help, Pequena let out an ear piercing crow.

About the Author:

Taylor Martin grew up smack in the middle of Baltimore and DC. In his free time Taylor writes stories, both for paper and for film, and unwinds by playing video games and going on long drives. You can follow him on Twitter: @t_mart_17.