• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 05
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Fair is Fowl and Fowl is Fair

We left Mama sleeping in lime light the morning of the Spring Fair, and even when Daddy’s truck coughed into life in the yard, the curtains didn’t stir.

We bumped across the ruts of the track, its edges erupting with golden daffodils, and Daddy turned up the radio full blast. We sang snatches of familiar tunes and laughed all the way into town.

And, suddenly, there we were, wrapped in the middle of a happy throng — an orchestra of voices, a potpourri of smells and a carnival of colours. Apple-cheeked faces and crinkled eyes met across stalls piled with jars of honeyed sunshine tied with string bows, ruby jams with jaunty gingham hats, and loaves as brown as the farmers’ weathered skin.

Like the yellow brick road, strands of golden straw led the way across the cobbles, the earthy scent of manure deepening with each step. The hoarse brays of donkeys, the trill of nanny goats and the cluck of chickens played as a backdrop to the auctioneer’s monotone babble.

I climbed on the rung of a wobbly gate and she waddled over — a dirty white duck, cocking her head to one side. And there she stayed, just looking at me.

‘Can we take her, Daddy? Please?’ I clasped my hands in prayer and studied Daddy’s face. Behind his eyes, I saw Mama with her hands on her hips, deep lines between her eyebrows.

She clucked and lifted one webbed foot.

‘We can’t let her have a tantrum,’ said Daddy, and, before I knew it, Katy was ours.

She was carried by my father back through the fair.


Fair is Fowl and Fowl is Fair

As we passed a party stall, Daddy stopped.

‘That’ll make Mama laugh. Let’s get it!’

Katy happily sat on my knee on the journey back, my fingers burrowing into her feathers and trailing across her tiny skull.

As we let ourselves into the kitchen, Daddy plonked the yellow wig on to Katy’s head.

‘Lynne! Come and see what we bought!’ His voice wavered, despite the attempt at lightheartedness.

Mama’s face appeared around the door. Her sigh was audible.

‘Take it outside. And make sure it’s fenced in.’

Our smiles slipped like dripping candle wax, but we made a lovely run in the garden.

Katy seemed to love her new home.

‘Do you think she’ll lay?’ I asked.

‘We’ll see.’

Katy became my shadow. I spent all my free time with her. As soon as I knelt, she’d climb on to my thighs for a cuddle.

Mama seemed a little cross with me, for some reason.

‘Going out there again?’

And then one day, Katy just wasn’t there. There was no sign of a fox. No scattering of feathers. No hole in her enclosure.


Fair is Fowl and Fowl is Fair

I searched everywhere.

I had never cried so much…

Actually, that’s not true.

Mama served casserole that night. After I’d wiped up the last of the gravy with a hunk of bread, she told me what had happened to Katy.

I still cry about her now.