One of my earliest memories involves a little black chicken.
I don't know how old I was, or why I had a chicken, or how old the chicken was, I just knew I had it. I don't recall it growing up, I only have memory of holding a tiny black chick in my hands, and the next memory is of the chicken fully grown, pecking around in one of those plastic kids playhouses that made a makeshift coop.
It wasn't the only chicken. My brother had one too, it was yellow. I don't know why we had two chickens, the coastal tourist town wasn't exactly rural. Why not a hamster like most kids get? Well actually I know the answer to that question, my mom hated hamsters. They're supposed to be nocturnal and squeak their wheel all night. I don't know if that's true, but either way I was stuck with a chicken.
The last of the three memories sticks out the most, its something I'll never forget.
My brother and I were playing with the chickens. We were in the backyard, on the concrete behind the garage. We had a bunch of those plastic cars that kids put their feet through the bottom to push around. It was fun to put the chicken in one, and push the chicken around. I know, why not put the chicken on TOP of the car? That must be at least twice as fun. But that wasn't good enough. Someone had the brilliant idea to stack a little plastic see-saw on top of a little plastic car. I don't know whose idea it was, but I do know whose chicken was doomed to be placed on top of such a precarious tower. Mine. I didn't think it was too big of a risk, I mean chickens can fly right?
Pushing a chicken around on a wobbly tower of toys is loads of fun. It must be fun for the chicken too, it would fly away if it didn't like it right? Of course, Murphy's law is unrelenting, and the inevitable happened. The see-saw fell off, the chicken fell with it. It didn't fly. It just smacked into the hard concrete. I stared in shock, waiting for it to move, get back up again. Everything gets back up again when if falls, right? Especially a tough little chicken, MY tough little chicken.
A small pool of blood flowed from it's head. I expected it to stop, it was just a little scrape right? My chicken couldn't die from a little fall, right? But it didn't, it just got bigger and bigger, the whole ground around the chicken was enveloped by the deep red ooze. It ran along the cracks of the sidewalk, like water from the hose. It's size grew exponentially. How much blood could be in a chicken? How could it bleed so fast? Was it...dead?
It felt like hours from the time it fell to the time the ground was soaked in blood, the whole time I just stood there, unable to do anything. I figured out it was dead eventually, me or my brother (somehow that detail wasn't retained) ran and told my mom. I guess she cleaned it up, but I don't remember what happened afterward. I just remember standing there, staring into a pool of blood and a lifeless chicken, knowing I had killed it. I had taken something innocent and fragile, and through carelessness and stupidity, killed the thing for no good reason at all.