Jessica froze at the instruction, feed the chickens? Uh, nop.
“Nop, you do it,” she told her brother and passed by him refusing to even consider such a thing.
She knew he was probably laughing at her and calling her dramatic but she didn’t like chickens, especially roadrunners, dead or alive but especially alive. They were vicious little things and the less time she dealt with them the better.
“Jess, you had better feed those chickens, I do not want to hear any stories!” their mom shouted from the kitchen.
Jess froze immediately, just as she got to the door to her room, her brother had told on her, the little brat. She turned around and walked back to the corridor and gave him a look that was sure to send the message. There would be no more favors from her, if he thought he was smart and could play such games then she would play the game right back. The little brat shrugged and grinned at her before he walked back to the sitting room to watch whatever he had been watching before the whole thing started.
Leaving him to do as he wanted to give him a false sense of victory, she turned to the kitchen instead. Her little brother had forgotten that he was watching a movie on her laptop, and with her headphones too. So because he did not want to be disturbed from his movie she had to feed the chickens? Well, as soon as she was done she would take her gadgets back and then they would see who had won.
“Honestly Jess, you are not a child anymore, in the next few months you will be going off to college and yet you are still afraid of chickens, when will you grow up?”
Jess narrowed her eyes at her mother who had her back turned to her but refused to respond. She didn’t say anything because she knew if she opened her mouth, she would point out to one of her mother’s own irrational fears and she knew the woman would not appreciate that. She did not want to have to get into any more trouble.
She did roll her eyes at her older sister who was standing fridge, laughing at her. They didn’t get it, none of them did, but one day they would realize she wasn’t crazy. She just prayed that it would not be her that the chickens would attack.
Grabbing the two containers with the leftovers that they used to feed the chickens, she walked out to the sitting room and did not miss the chance to narrow her eyes at her brother as she passed him on her way to the door. He would pay for betraying her, they had a standing order that he would feed the chickens for her whenever it was her turn but obviously he did not need any more favors from her so she was going to make sure not to accommodate him in any way.
Her uncle, who was sitting on the sofa near the door gave her an encouraging smile but she knew he wouldn’t help her as her mom had forbidden him from ever doing their chores for them. She had said they had to be sick and dying for him to ever help them, and Jess didn’t want to get him into trouble. Everyone feared her mother, even her uncle. And evidently, she feared her mother way more than she feared the chickens.
Standing by the door, she peered outside to see if there were any chickens around. She really did not want to have them jump or fly at her as they ran for the food, so it was best for her to throw it on the ground where they fed while they were still distracted. It was difficult though because it always seemed as if they were waiting for when someone came out of the house holding something and ran towards the person anticipating that it was feeding time.
Her fear was always that one day they would trip her up and when she had fallen they would come pecking at her body to get any food that would have fallen on her. She could imagine her aiming at her eyes or something and it usually caused her nightmares. She remembered the first time she had been attacked by a chicken, it had been in a box tied up so it wouldn’t run around but the beak had been free for use. She had opened the box wanting to see what was inside only for the dumb chicken to attack her, it hurt so bad.
The second time was when she had accidentally disturbed a mother chicken and her babies. That had been even worse as the chicken had flown at her aiming for her face. The last time she had been attacked she hadn’t even done anything to provoke it. She had escaped with no injuries but it had been a super scary experience. No one ever believed her though and she had stopped trying to explain. She had read somewhere online that some children had even been blinded by chickens before but knowing they would just make fun of her she hadn’t said anything about those stories to her family.
Looking to the side, she checked to see if the emergency food she had hidden away was still there for her to us in case of a surprise attack. She had put it there to distract the chickens if there was ever any need. She knew though that if her mother ever found out that she had it there she would get into trouble. Checking again to see if there were no chickens around, she rushed across the yard and poured the food out of the containers before rushing back to the house, careful to avoid the spots on the ground she knew were slippery.
When or two chickens noticed what she had done they ran for the food but she was already in a safer zone when the rest of them followed. Smiling triumphantly at her uncle, she rushed to the kitchen to wash her hand before she took her laptop away from her brother. She ignored his cries for mercy as knowing full well that she was the only one in the house willing to let him use their laptop. Next time he would know where his loyalties should lie.
* * *
It was a few hours later when Jess felt the urge to go to the kitchen. She had been ignoring the urge for a few minutes but it had just gotten to the point where she could not ignore it anymore. She felt like she was missing something or had forgotten something but she couldn’t figure out what it was. When she looked around the empty kitchen and saw nothing, she shrugged and went to the sitting room. Like the kitchen, it was empty and nothing caught her eye, but as was about to leave, she caught sight of someone outside.
Moving closer to see who was there, she was just in time to witness one of her nightmares first hand. Her sister had been on her way to feed the chickens and right before her eyes, she slipped on the place Jess always avoided and fell. That wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if it wasn’t for the fact the leftovers she had carried for the chickens flew in the air and fell right on top of her. Immediately, the chickens which were all around her waiting for food converged on her.
She froze in horror as she watched the chickens as they pecked away on the food on Gracie before she remembered her secret stash of food. She would have to restart the stocking the food but she couldn’t see any other way to get the chickens away from Gracie. Grabbing the food from the corner, she quickly threw it towards the general area where the chicken usually fed and watched as the chickens were distracted from Gracie and ran towards the new source.
Turning back to her sister, she was happy to see their uncle helping Gracie up and decided to head back towards the house. Not waiting for anyone else, she ran to her room and slammed the door shut. Falling to the floor, she tried to control her breathing and keep herself from panicking as her heart continued to beat at an abnormally fast rate. All she could see was the image of chicken pecking away but instead of seeing Gracie, she saw herself lying there instead. She knew it was irrational and it had been Gracie not her, but she felt like she was the one who had been attacked.
Remembering Psalm 91, she recited it over and over in her mind as she worked to control her breathing. ‘… 1000 will fall at my side, 10 000 at my right hand but it will not come near me…’ other verses came to mind and she recited them reminding herself that she was not given the spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind.
‘let not your heart be troubled… let not your heart be troubled…no weapon formed against…’
She was aware of someone walking into the room and was grateful when her mom pulled her into her arms and helped her calm down. Her mom, a great woman of faith recited the verses with her and even suggested new ones that she would not have thought of on her own. They soon settled on Psalms 91 and 2 Timothy 1:7. Jess reminded herself over and over again that she was covered in the dwelling on the Most-High God and that she did not have the spirit of fear but had a sound mind instead.
When she has finally calmed down, she turned around and asked her mom how Gracie was doing. She felt a little bad as she remembered that she had she had wished that if it ever happened, it wouldn’t happen to her.
“Gracie is fine, thanks to you, she is in a bit of pain obviously but it would have been worse if you had not intervened. You know Gracie never cried out? You did though, and your cry caught your uncle’s attention and he came to help. But he said your plan made it easier to get her away as the chickens were getting aggressive.”
“Death by the chickens?”
As her mom laughed at her bad joke, Jess sighed and leaned back into her mother’s arms. Maybe now people would take her a lot more seriously when she shared her distrust for chickens. Or maybe she had to learn to trust God would protect her from the chickens? She wasn’t sure she liked how she had just panicked over the fear of chickens, sure they were aggressive but she was much larger and had God on her side. Living in fear was not a Jesus girl thing to do…especially fear of chickens, no matter how dangerous and vicious they were.
There was a verse her mom had reminded her of, that said that if she was established in righteousness she shall be far from fear and terror for it shall not come near her. And that no weapons formed against her shall prosper for her righteous was from Him. Obviously, she had to work on what she believed, living in fear was no longer an option, she was not given the Spirit of fear and she had to remember that and be rooted in it.
‘Fear was kind of stupid anyway, it didn’t save you in most situations, it just crippled you in one way or another,’ she encouraged herself knowing the fight before her, wasn’t going to be easy.
She sighed feeling guilty for what had happened but thanked God that she had listened to urge to go out there instead of ignoring it as she had originally tried to do.