Flumes Volume 1 Issue 1 - Page 26

forms. Diet specialist made sure all 150 chickens had feed and water in their cages. There were five to six birds in a cage, and the cages were stacked three high on two floors. At first Fitzie thought the job sounded easy enough, but then after five days, she wanted to quit. She couldn’t get past wanting to free all those birds. She thought the coop was full of a weird energy, an air of frozen panic, like the chickens lived in perpetual fear.

And once a day, sometimes more than twice, Fitzie found a dead chicken and had to send for Shane. They’d take out all the chickens that were in the cage with the dead one and clean it to make sure disease didn’t develop. Shane often spent more than a few minutes examining the dead chickens before scrubbing the cages with bleach. There was something about the way the birds looked that captured his attention and he’d hover over their carcasses. Dorothy complained to Fitzie that her calling Shane into the coop to deal with dead chickens was taking up too much time, that there were plenty of other things to do on the farm. It was no surprise to anyone that Fitzie quickly moved up the ranks to egg inspector, where all she had to do was make sure the eggs in the cartons weren’t cracked before they left. Dorothy had promoted Fitzie into Harper’s old chair.

“Did you know Antarctica is a desert?” Shane had asked Fitzie as they walked home from the farm on her third day as egg inspector. The sun set behind them. Their shadows stretched long in front of them and off to the right.

“You’re teasing me. I know its all ice there. A desert has sand.”

“No, really, it’s true. It’s because Antarctica gets less than 19% rainfall a year. That classifies it as a desert,” Shane said, “Don’t you think it’s neat that something can be two different things at once? That ice can be classified as a desert? It makes you wonder about other things, doesn’t it?” Shane had addressed the air above her head while she stared at her feet.

Her face had turned a radish-red from forehead to chin and ear to ear.

“Hey, I got one. Don’t you think it’s weird that the word ‘egg’ describes more than one thing? That it’s the name of the hard shell with the stuff inside, until the shell’s broken, and then it’s the name of just the stuff inside?” Fitzie asked.

“No, I’ve actually never thought of it like that,” Shane answered with a shine on his face that made Fitzie feel like she was telling him a secret to the universe.

“Think about it for a minute. Do you know any thing else that’s made up of one thing, then breaks, and becomes a totally different kind of thing, but keeps the same name? I mean, it changes completely, from hard and white to runny and yellow. But at a certain point, in the beginning, both things are

17