End Game | Laura Brown
We chased them in circles, kicking up clouds of dust – big, cumulus columns of fine red dirt – until, giggling and screaming, we were outside of ourselves, wound up into something like madness, at which point Gran would bang open the screen door and yell at us to cut it out and leave them chickens alone, and when we ignored her, pose the existential question that gradually brought us staggering to a sweaty halt, bent over with hands on our knees, panting and laughing a little more uncertainly, the dust settling, the chickens strutting off, indignant, out of reach, and we would all decide we were tired of the chase and race to another corner of the farm to do something else.
God, the angles of him. Long legs bent at the knees, ninety degrees to the floor; his back an acute line to his thighs when he leans forward, forearms resting on his legs. I am not available for this, but he dissolves me.
And what do y’all plan to do when you catch one? Gran would yell from the doorway, fists on her hips, and that was the question that eventually stopped us, because the chase was exhilarating, but it had to end one way or another – either we stop, or we succeed – and never having succeeded, I didn’t know what would happen; I didn’t know what I planned to do; sometimes I had a vision of talons and beaks turning on me, tearing at my flesh, rivulets of bright blood dripping down my arms; other times, I had a vision of grabbing its body and finding that it was warmer and softer and more yielding than I ever dreamed, that I couldn’t stop myself from squeezing it hard and harder, crushing it to my chest, possessing it at last, until it goes limp in my arms, and when I let it go, it falls to the earth with a thud.
God, everything about him. The intensity of his eyes, the stillness of his body except for the energy in his hands, rotating the base of his glass like a pitcher on the mound fingering a ball, studying the strike zone, watching, waiting.
Maybe what I wanted was to be fast enough to catch the chicken, hands on either side of the wings, ready to clasp, and to freeze that moment in time; then the bird turns and cocks its head to the side to fix its liquid black eye on me, pausing, standing still as I brush the tips of my fingers against its feathers, grazing it just enough to feel the staccato pulse of its heart beating more than five times a second; then I draw back, right myself, and walk away, the bird looking after me, following me for a few steps, perhaps.
But this is not the kind of thing that happens.
About the Author:
Laura writes long and short fiction in New Orleans, Louisiana, with no particular qualifications besides a life-long love of stories and storytelling. Her work can be found in Barely South Review, Hemingway Shorts, Welter, and elsewhere. She’s working on her first novel, if you know anyone.