As a kid, your pet is often your best friend. I remember my first best friend well. Her name was Henrietta, and yes- she was a chicken. But she wasn’t just any chicken, she was the oldest and largest chicken on our family farm. She had big black eyes and her feathers were always in a ruffle, literally and metaphorically.
Everyday when I would wonder out to the henhouse to feed the chickens I would pester her. Poking, prodding, and clucking at her were just a few examples of the way I would beckon at this chicken. Sometimes she would peck at me lightly, and other times she would rotate her head to stare at me with those big black eyes.
Eventually, I befriended Henrietta and even got her to play with me! Once I’d chased her into the yard she’d begin clucking loudly and making her way towards me. Just as I’d lean down to touch her she’d peck me and begin chasing me. As the weeks went on, we became inseparable (much to my mother’s dismay). I’d begun to take her everywhere with me, even to visit other animals down the road at our neighbor’s house.
When summer came, my mother decided to send my siblings and I off to summer camp. My brother were complacent about being sent off to summer camp but I was enthralled. I packed days beforehand and dreamt of the adventures we would all have at camp.
I was so excited that when the day came to pack into the car and head off to camp, I forgot to say goodbye to Henrietta! I begged my mother to visit her, play with her, and tell her that I missed her everyday I was gone. She smiled and assured me that she would make sure Henrietta was well taken care of.
When we returned, my family went to the neighbors house for dinner. We all piled around the table and graciously shared our stories of camp. When Mrs. Williams brought dinner to the table, we all were silent in anticipation. She was known as one of the best cooks in the city! She cut a large chicken and gave each of us a healthy portion along with cornbread and vegetables.
About half way through my meal my father began to laugh, almost uncontrollably. When I finally asked him why, he replied:
“Are you enjoying that chicken?”
Thinking nothing of it I answered confused, “Yeah, I am. Mrs. Williams sure is a good cook.”
My mother’s face immediately began to flush and before she could stop him, my father said: ‘Yeah, with how long we fed Henrietta she better be a good chicken!”
My heart was broken! Tears flooded my face and I ran from my neighbor’s house all the way back to our home. My mom followed me and explained to me how all the chickens on our farm would be eaten one day, and that Henrietta will live on forever inside of me! Quite literally!
I always think back to this and smile, of course I miss Henrietta from time to time but the memories of her will always be just as delicious as her presence was!