Maggie the chicken, p.1
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       Maggie the Chicken, p.1

           Marian Hailey-Moss
 
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Maggie the Chicken


  Copyright © 2014 Marian Hailey Moss

  All rights reserved.

  ISBN: IBSN 9781311383693

  First Electronic Edition

  ISBN: 1494298325

  ISBN 13: 9781494298326

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2013922551

  First Print Edition

  Maggie the Chicken

  by

  marian hailey-moss

  edited by: Julia Fatou and Chris Stover

  illustrations by MARC CHALVIN

  For

  Alanna, Jonathan, Aine,

  Morgan and Avery

  1.

  The pink and white buds of the Magnolia trees were blossoming. It was spring after all—and school vacation time. Eleven-year-old Mia and her dog, Bubbles, were taking their afternoon stroll down Broadway. Mia waved to the Indian man in the newspaper stand. She nodded to the African vendor who sold purses and hats. And she said “Hi,” to Beth, a neighbor, who was walking her two frisky pups. Bubbles loved seeing the doggies, and she had many to see. This was New York City, and animals softened the hustle and bustle.

  Mia rounded the corner on Eighty-Eighth Street and heard a voice saying: “Move over! Move over!”

  On the sidewalk was a fluffy dirty-white ball of feathers. A doorman was pushing it with his foot, trying to keep it near the wall. Mia came closer and saw that it was a chicken.

  “Poor thing!” said Mia. “Is it a rooster or a hen?”

  “I think it’s a hen,” said the doorman. “Roosters are bigger.”

  Mia’s heart went out to the frightened bird. She looked bedraggled and out of place.

  “I gave her some of my spaghetti,” the doorman said.

  A pile of tossed spaghetti lay oozing on the ground next to the wall of the building. ‘She’s too upset to eat,’ Mia thought.

  “Where did she come from?”

  The doorman shrugged.

  “Are you going to keep her?”

  The doorman shook his head no.

  “What will happen to her?”

  The doorman didn’t seem to care.

  “I’ll take her,” said Mia. “Please keep her safe. I’ll be right back.”

  Racing home with Bubbles, Mia gave her a treat to munch on and quickly pulled an old beat-up jacket from her closet. She ran back to where the chicken was still standing by the doorman. The bird didn’t move when Mia gently threw her jacket over it and scooped it up in her arms. She had learned this method when rescuing injured pigeons that she and Bubbles found on their walks together.

  Mia thanked the doorman. He seemed surprised that anyone would take home a lost chicken. She walked carefully, hoping not to trip on the many cracks on the sidewalk. This was a precious bundle—a New York City chicken! The hen lay quietly in her arms. Mia thought that she seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.

  After receiving many curious stares from people on the street, they arrived at the doorway of Astor Court, her apartment house. As she was stepping into the elevator, Jack the doorman said, “Mia, there’s a chicken’s foot hanging out of your package.” Luckily, the elevator door closed before she had to explain.

  2.

  Mia put her new friend in the extra bathroom. She found a worn plaid blanket and made a fluffy nest. She placed a bowl of water on the tile floor and got lettuce, corn, and tomatoes from the fridge. She set down a plate with the veggies and some of Bubble’s vegan dog food. Then she sat on the floor near her new friend.

  “I’m going to call you Maggie. Everyone has to have a name…and you look like a Maggie.”

  The little white hen was rather small, with large yellow-orange feet and a pink wattle. She ruffled her scraggly tail feathers and gazed intently around the room. She looked nervous and in need of reassurance. Mia wanted to hug her, but she knew it was better to let Maggie get her bearings. She probably wasn’t used to being with people much, and Mia wasn’t used to being with a chicken.

  “We’re going to have fun getting to know one another.”

  Maggie turned her head to one side… thinking it over.

  “I’ll be back later. You’re safe now.”

  3.

  At dinner that night, Mia’s heart was bursting to tell her mom and dad about the newcomer. Midway through her lasagna, she could keep her secret no longer and announced, “There’s a chicken in my bathroom.”

  “That’s nice, dear,” said her mom calmly.

  “Dad, could you put a wire fence in the courtyard garden so she could go outside a little bit?”

  Her mom and dad looked at one another. They realized Mia meant a real chicken.

  “Where did you say this chicken was?” said her dad, sitting up straight.

  “She’s in my bathroom, and her name is Maggie.”

  Her dad quickly pushed himself away from the table and went to check. Sure enough, there was a live chicken in the extra bathroom. He returned to the table unsure of how he felt or how to handle the situation.

  Taking a deep breath, Mia told them about discovering Maggie on the street and wanting to keep her until a good home could be found.

  “There will be no more discussion about it tonight,” said Mia’s dad. As the superintendent of the building, he had done his day’s work and wanted to rest and watch TV. “Maggie most likely came from a careless backyard breeder.” He’d be glad to drive her to one of the poultry farms in New Jersey, he said.

  ***

  That evening Maggie was happily sitting on the plaid nest. She had eaten all of the dog food, but hadn’t touched the veggies. Mia’s mother thought that Maggie looked young and scruffy, but healthy.

  “Mia, you have a good heart,” she said. “It’s not everybody who would rescue a chicken.” She kissed her daughter on the forehead and went to clean up the dishes.

  Mia was pleased that Maggie had been introduced to her family. She sat quietly with her new friend for a while. She had never been with a chicken before. She wondered what it would be like to be one—to walk with Maggie’s type of orange-yellow feet, to eat dinner with a beak instead of a knife and fork, and to hug her mom and dad with wings instead of arms.

  Maggie fluffed her feathers, settled back into her plaid nest, and closed her eyes. After a minute she opened her eyes again, took a sideways peek at Mia and then went right to sleep. It had been an exciting, but exhausting day.

  4.

  The next morning, bright and early, Mia opened the door to the bathroom and looked in. Maggie was perched on the sink looking out the window.

  Mia was glad that the little hen was feeling better. She was thankful for the large window that allowed Maggie to enjoy the trees and the courtyard garden. She refilled Maggie’s plate with dog food and tried again with the veggies.

  “You’re beautiful,” said Mia. “Don’t worry. We’ll find you a good home.” As she said that, her dad’s words from the night before—‘poultry farm’—came to mind, and she felt uneasy. “I’ll be back later.”

  ***

  Mia took Bubbles to Riverside Park—a favorite place to think things over. Bubbles loved the park because she could run, play and meet other doggies. Best of all she liked to chase her red Frisbee. She had been known to drop the Frisbee at the feet of strangers, hoping for a toss or two.

  “Okay,” said Mia. “Time out, Bubbles. Let’s sit for a while.”

  The sunlight glistening on the water and the boats lazily going up and down the Hudson River had a spellbinding effect. Mia fell into a daydream. Bubbles, on the other hand, was itching to play. She eagerly looked around and spotted someone in the distance.

  “Bubbles! Come back!”

  But Bubbles knew that better things lay ahead. When she reached the pretty blond teenager with sparkly blue clips in her hair, the s
kinny jeans, and the sandals that seemed to glow, she dropped her red Frisbee at her feet.

  Mia came running and saw, to her surprise, her friend who made magical animals.

  “Angelina!”

  “Hi! I thought I’d find you here!”

  Angelina was the beautiful teenage artist who had brought a papier-mâché cow named Milky Whey into Mia’s life several months earlier. Her guidance had helped Mia understand animals better. Angelina explained that the doorman in her building had told her about the rescue of the chicken. “It’s the talk of the neighborhood,” she said.

  After throwing the Frisbee for Bubbles, she smiled and handed Mia a green bag. Inside was a nest of twigs and leaves with one large egg that had red hearts painted on it.

  “An egg-of-hearts,” whispered Mia in amazement.

  “It’s made of clay and love and wishes. It’s to celebrate the chance to give a better life to a little chicken.”

  “It’s beautiful. Thank you so much.”

  “It will help you to help Maggie,” said Angelina.

  “How did you know Maggie’s name?” said Mia.

  “Didn’t you tell me?”

  “No.”

  “Then it must have been the doorman,” said Angelina.

  But Mia was sure that she had never told the doorman. She also wondered how an egg made of clay and love and wishes could be of help. However, she didn’t ask. Sometimes with Angelina it was no use asking. You simply had to wait awhile, and then everything fell into place and made sense without her saying it outright.

  Bubbles came running back with her Frisbee, wanting more.

  “That’s all for now, Bubbles,” said Angelina patting her head.

  Mia kept admiring the wonderful gift. After awhile they finished talking and headed out of the park, past the soda vender, up the ramp to Ninety-First Street, and to the doorway of Mia’s home at Astor Court.

  “I’d better be on my way,” said Angelina. “I have to meditate on rainbows and waterfalls with a few friends, for inspiration. Otherwise I can’t sculpt a living thing.” She smiled.

  “Thanks again for the beautiful egg,” said Mia.

  “It’s a bit of magic,” said Angelina. “I think it will come in handy.”

  Mia and Bubbles watched their friend walk toward Broadway. Why was it her sandals seemed to glow? Mia shrugged. She felt peaceful and happy around Angelina. But Angelina would always be a bit of a mystery to her.

  With the new gift and Bubbles still holding her Frisbee, she stepped inside, eager to check on Maggie.

  5.

  “Wow! Look at you!”

  Maggie had moved from sitting on the sink to the shower curtain rod. This gave her a better view of the garden below. Also, being high up probably gave her a feeling of safety and being in charge of her life.

  Mia told Maggie about meeting Angelina in the park and showed her the nest with the egg-of-hearts. Maggie became excited when she saw the gift. She stood on the rod and flapped her wings. Then she flew to the sink and then towards the floor. When she hit the floor she began clucking and running back and forth.

  “Oh, my goodness!” said Mia. “I’ve never heard you clucking. Is it Angelina’s egg?”

  Maggie kept running back and forth and flapping her wings.

  Mia decided that the egg was causing too much commotion—so she carefully set it on the dressing table in her room.

  ***

  Over the next couple of days, Mia spent more and more time with Maggie. She remembered a book about two hens that was given to her by her grandmother, and she decided to read it to Maggie. It was the story of Flossie and Bossy by the actress Eva La Galliene. ‘Every chicken should hear about Flossie and Bossy at least once in its life,’ thought Mia. The little hen snuggled closer while Mia read to her. Eventually Mia was able to stroke Maggie gently on her back. Once, she even picked her up and held her on her lap.

  ***

  After giving it much thought, Mia decided that she and Maggie should expand their horizons. So she gingerly opened the bathroom door for Maggie to come out and have a look around.

  “It gets kinds of stuffy staying in one place, doesn’t it?”

  Maggie eventually got up the courage to follow Mia into her bedroom. She tippy-toed to the dresser and softly clucked, pacing back and forth in front of it. Bubbles in the meantime was watching her every move from the side of the bed.

  Pausing quietly, Maggie lifted one leg and held it for a minute, like a yogi. Mia wondered if she wanted to see the egg-of-hearts that was on the dresser. But as Mia was reaching for it, Bubbles decided to follow her nose. She shook herself and went to have a sniff of this strange white bird. Maggie would have none of it and quickly scurried under the bed.

  “Leave Maggie alone, Bubbles,” cautioned Mia.

  But Bubbles, driven by curiosity—and by disgust at playing second fiddle to a chicken—tried to follow Maggie under the bed. Due to her size, she got stuck, with her rear end still outside.

  With half of Bubbles struggling under the bed, Maggie tried a new route. She ran to the bedroom door and into the hallway of the apartment. The chase was on! Bubbles squirmed out from under the bed and dashed after her.

  “Bubbles! Stop!”

  Although Bubbles was fast, Maggie was faster and more airborne. She ran into the open kitchen and flew up onto the counter, knocking over a pot of cold soup. She scrambled over the stove, only to land in a sink full of water and dishes. Letting out an ear splitting squawk, she flew to the kitchen table sending silverware clattering and scattering. She leapt to the floor, flapping and leaving little poop landmines along the way.

  “Bubbles! Hold it!” Mia shouted.

  Escaping into the sunny living room, Maggie ran past the screened windows and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and hid behind the big floral sofa. Bubbles followed to the corner of the sofa, barking and knocking over a Victorian lamp. Glass shattered everywhere.

  Maggie, in terror, stayed behind the sofa long enough for Mia to catch her. Her little heart was beating hard and fast. A feather or two wafted through the air.

  Mia put Maggie back in the bathroom and sat down trying to calm her. She heard the front door open and then footsteps in the hallway. “What in the world happened here?” a voice thundered. Mia’s father had come home for lunch.

  6.

  Even though Mia put all the blame on herself, she couldn’t change her dad’s mind. Maggie had to go.

  Mia spent the rest of the day making sure that Maggie had recovered from her harrowing ordeal. She sat with her, read to her, and sang to her.

  Outside it was a mild spring day, just right for getting some fresh air. Since she wanted to make Maggie’s last days with them extra special, Mia decided to take her for a walk in the courtyard garden. It was a protected area, perfect for a chicken to get a taste of nature.

  She made a harness and leash for Maggie out of a long red ribbon. They walked slowly around and enjoyed being close to the bushes and trees that were blossoming. A young neighbor, Talia, who was passing through the garden from soccer practice, was amazed to see a real live chicken and asked if she could pet her. Maggie accepted a few pats but then moved away to peck at blades of grass.

  After they returned home, Mia gave Maggie fresh water and cracked corn that her mother had bought. “I could tell that you loved it outside, Maggie. It was better than looking from the window all the time, wasn’t it?”

  Finally, satisfied that Maggie was feeling herself once again, that night after dinner, she broke the news. “Dear Maggie,” said Mia, “we’re taking you to your new home very soon. I wish with all my heart you could stay with us, but you belong with other chickens. Let’s try to have a good sleep, and I’ll see you early in the morning.”

  Maggie cocked her head to one side and flew up to the sink. She turned her back on Mia and stared out the window, even though darkness had fallen.

  ***

  Worried about Maggie’s future, Mia slept fitfully. Sometim
e after midnight she heard a tapping sound and sat up in bed. Where was it coming from? Then she noticed that the egg-of-hearts was full of light. She walked slowly over to her dressing table to get a closer look. Yes, the tapping was coming from the egg. She reached out and gently touched it. The top half of the clay shell fell without a sound onto the dressing table.

  A glowing yellow baby chick stood in the clay eggshell. It looked up at her and cocked its little head from one side to another. Mia heard a little voice whisper:

  “Mia?”

  “Hello,” said Mia in amazement. She tried to pick the chick up, but her fingers touched nothing but warm air. The chick was made of light. She tipped the egg on its side, and the chick toddled out.

  “Thanks! It’s cramped in there.”

  “Who are you?”

  “I’m number 2,300,423,055, but you can call me ‘Sunshine.’ Angelina sent me.”

  “Am I dreaming?”

  “Yes, but don’t stop believing in me. Sometimes the truest truths come from dreams. I’ll sit on your shoulder. Close your eyes and I’ll take you to the front steps of Maggie’s future home.”

  Mia felt as if she were flying. There was a pleasant whooshing sound, and then everything was still.

  “Here we are. You can open your eyes now. Ahead of us are two doors. Behind these doors are examples of the homes of chickens. All humans have a choice. Which one do you choose?”

  Mia paused for a moment and then decided.

  “I’ll try the door on the left.”

  Mia opened the door to a gust of stinky air full of ammonia. She coughed and coughed. As far as her eyes could see were cages one on top of the other, stuffed full of worn-out chickens. The place would break the spirit of any bird having to live there. Mia realized that Maggie could be one of these poor creatures. Cages, that were too small for one chicken, held ten to twelve birds.

 
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