The Sky Is Falling – Jessica Krieger
My parents tell us there will be chickens at the funeral. I can’t help but snort, which doesn’t go over well with Mom, but I’m sorry, chickens? At my grandma’s funeral? I know they were all she gave a shit about, since there isn’t much to care about when you isolate yourself in the Midwest and freeze out your family. But seriously, who the hell wants live chickens at their funeral? What are they supposed to do there? I don’t think they’re exactly mourning, but then again, are any of us? I only met her a few times when she was forced to attend a holiday or two. She didn’t talk much, but when she did it was either about those chickens or how we were a disappointment in one way or another. City slickers, she called us. Bratty, irresponsible, nasty children. That last one came after I tried to steal her brooch. I just wanted to look, but she was so angry. I don’t think she even knew my name, but she could name all of those chickens forwards and backwards.
I have so many questions, but Mom doesn’t want to hear any of them. She and Dad go off for grown-up talk and my older brother follows after scowling at me. My grandma might have known his name, I can’t remember. Dad once told me she wasn’t as hard when my brother first came along. The “falling out” my family always talks about hadn’t happened yet. I don’t know the details, but I don’t have to. I blame the chickens for rotting her brain. I bet they pecked away at her heart until it fell right out of her chest. She loved those birds more than any of us. Mom said she liked them cause they couldn’t talk back, cause they never asked anything of her.
I wonder if they’re traumatized cause she died right in front of them. Had a heart attack and dropped dead as she was going out to feed them. I’m sure they didn’t care until they got hungry and realized she wasn’t bringing any more food. Some guy who delivered her groceries is the one that did something about it when he found her. Not those stupid chickens, so why are they invited to the funeral? Will they be looking at my grandma’s coffin with their beady eyes and know she is in there? Will they listen to the parting words and think of all the good memories I never got to share with her? Will they bawl their eyes out and beg whatever god they believe in to bring her back? Stupid chickens. So stupid, I bet I could catch one. That’d really make my grandma roll in her grave and maybe she’d regret never giving me a second look. I could do it, I really could. Just sneak up right behind it and grab it by the tail feathers. I’ll look it straight in the face and find out what the hell she saw in those things. I’ll tell it about every trophy I won, every good grade I got in school, my favorite ice cream flavor. I’ll show it the scar on my arm, my new haircut, how I can cross my eyes. I’ll tell it everything about me. I’ll make it learn my name.
Jessica Krieger is a student at Truman State University. She has taken creative writing classes as well as a fiction workshop class. This is her first literary journal acceptance.
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