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Playing Chicken With My Memory
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I remember one spring, during my childhood, when not long after Easter, I was confined to my bed for days. I couldn't leave my room. It was just me and the chicken in the corner.

The bedroom was dark. The drapes were drawn. A bright sliver of light along the edge of the drapes let no appreciable illumination into the gloom but merely reminded me of the beautiful weather I was missing. What should have been my first chance in months to run around the yard without my coat on. I was sick. Maybe it was measels, or whooping cough, or a strep throat.

Then there was the chicken. It was a juvenile, a scrawny, clumsy, pin-feathered vision of ugliness in no way identifiable as the adorable, little peep it had been only days before. Except, maybe, by its droppings which coated the newspaper in the bottom of the carboard box with the same thick whitewash that mounded the floor of the chicken coop in the barn behind the house.

I can't recall whether the chicken was good company or not. It was the baby chick I'd got for Easter, of course. I suppose my parents had figured it was bad enough I had to miss the best part of the spring. At least I should be able to enjoy my half-grown chicken.

But here is where my memory gets tricky. We'd got the peep from a gas station. Back in the fifties, they'd give them away at Easter. For my family it made sense. My grandparents kept chickens in the barn so an Easter peep could eventually join them. But what would most people have done with a cute little ball of fluff that has suddenly grown into a hideous clucking monstrosity?

Today such a promotion sounds incredible. And maybe it was then too. No one but me remembers such a custom. Even Google can't recall it ever happening and Google has a better memory than I do.

Why would I have imagined gas stations giving away free peeps or hallucinated a chicken in my bedroom? Maybe I was a lot sicker than anyone let on.

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