In the night, our stepfather has us line up on the patio. Barefoot on the cold concrete, we are here to see him kill a chicken. This will mature us into adults. It’s good for us to know about death, he told our mother, and so she does not stop him.
He wrings the chicken’s neck to teach us how we will one day twist the necks of our enemies, or our children. Then he cleaves the head from the body. He looks at us meaningfully, although—meaning what?
I am standing on a rock almost small enough to be inconspicuous. I’m afraid to shift, so I continue to smother the pebble with my big toe, and it bites me back in self-defense. Now our stepfather has begun roughly plucking the bird, tearing out handfuls of feathers at random, action uninhibited by strategy. He throws them everywhere. Blood droplets fly with them and land on the white outdoor furniture. Two drops land by my sister’s foot. A feather sticks in my brother’s hair.
We will not eat the chicken. Later we will go inside, and our stepfather will light the corpse on fire in a child-grave-sized hole he dug in the backyard. We, the children, will go to bed. We will sleep and wake up and eat something that is not the bird, and so on, and so forth, and on and on, etc.
Morgan Bennett is currently based in Austin, Texas, where they spend their time writing and studying film. Their work has appeared in, or will soon appear in, YA Review Network, gloworm press, and Black Ink Fiction. Their work has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.