Fiction Blog, Writing Samples

Why We Have Chickens: My Family Will Survive the Apocalypse While Your Family Starves

I was raised to be apocalyptic. I never knew this, of course. Does the guppy know water? I didn’t realize that I was groomed to face society’s doom until I was eighteen. By that time, it was too late for me.

You see, while other little girls played with Barbies, I sat on the floor next to my dad, an unplugged PlayStation controller in hand, and pretended to blow the heads off zombies. While other girls spent weekends at the mall, I spent them with my dad, shooting Christmas Coca Cola cans until we could hit the polar bears from 30 yards away. When other girls refused to associate with their fathers, my dad and I were getting matching pentagram tattoos to guard against demonic possession – just in case.

Don’t worry. I’m not a romantic. I know that when the apocalypse comes, there will be no monsters: no undead, bloodthirsty scapegoats. There will be no sounding of angelic trumpets. No devils crawling from black smoke. It will be humanity that unravels civilization. The global economy will collapse and people will do whatever is necessary to survive.

When this happens, my family will be prepared. You see, in the end, the rifles mounted on the wall won’t be enough to sustain us. The concrete, one-way-in/one-way-out panic room won’t save us from the rumbling in our stomachs. Civilization or not, we’ll still need to eat.

This is where the chickens come in.

Chickens are self-sustaining protein factories. They eat the scraps from our meals, everything from rotten grapes to corn cobs to watermelon rinds. If left to their own devices, they slurp down worms and dig meat out of buggy exoskeletons. They, themselves, consist of meat: delectable meat that all other meats strive to imitate. After all, everything tastes like chicken. Of course, I will never (circumstances permitting) eat our chickens. The very idea repulses the pseudo-lacto-ovo vegetarian in me. I am content to devour their eggs, the most plentiful product the protein factories manufacture.

Originally, my parents bought six chickens. They were supposed to be Bantam hens, because they are small and easily domesticated. The more likely reason is that my parents think the feathers around their legs – or “the boots with the fur,” as my mom calls them – are adorable. However, we made the unfortunate mistake of buying chicks at Easter. By the time we reached Family Center, dozens of grubby-handed children had snatched up the chicks and moved them from one aluminum tank to the next, scrambling the breeds into indiscernible chaos. Therefore, instead of six Bantams, we have three Bantams, one Wyandotte, one Rhode Island Red, and one bird resembling a pheasant. Oh, and two of them are roosters, which incidentally, do not lay eggs.

Due to these unexpected complications, my dad took it upon himself to acquire six laying hens from the local Farmers’ Co-Op. While the other chickens all have distinct colorings, making them worthy of individual names (Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hestia, Persephone), the six, identical laying hens are known collectively as “The Dinosaurs.” These hens are a testament to evolution. They have gangly, scaled legs, long necks, and wide, black eyes. If I stripped them of their feathers, they would look like Velociraptors. The only excuse for their ugliness is the large, white eggs they lay: the eggs that will keep us alive.

I’m not crazy. I know that the odds of an apocalypse – be it pandemic, demonic, or economic – are slim to none. I know that, if an apocalypse arose, I would not have the guts to shoot a zombie, let alone a human. I know that, even if I became a ruthless sniper, my family’s tiny flock of chickens would not be enough to feed us forever. But you know what they say…

Better safe than sorry.


This creative nonfiction essay is from my Multi-Genre workshop from Baker University. If you cannot tell, it was written in 2012, when the Mayan apocalypse and doomsday prepping were insanely popular topics. It was featured in the 2013 edition of Watershed Literary Magazine.

Fiction Blog, Writing Samples

Antes de la Boda: An Original Poem

Antes de la Boda

from the oil on canvas by Antonio Muñoz Degrain

 

The bones of her corset creak against her ribs

as she breathes, Necesito un momento,

por favor.

She dreams of salt water dried on her skin,

of the warm breeze tangling her curls.

Of Valencia. Of home.

She clasps her right hand, wrist

bruised and aching from her father’s

grasp. Wrapped tightly in satin

and trimmed with ribbon,

she is the gift. White and soft,

she is the dove. And her bouquet,

the olive branch.

antes de la boda
Antes de la Boda by Antonio Muñoz Degrain as featured in Museo Nacional del Prado.

This poem is from my Poetry Writing I class at Baker University. It was part of the poetry collection, Olive Branch, which I presented at the 2013 Sigma Tau Delta International Conference. It was published in the 2014 edition of Watershed Literary Magazine.

Antes de la boda is Spanish for “Before the wedding.”

Necessito un momento por favor is Spanish for “I need a moment please.”

Fiction Blog, Writing Samples

Kate, Warrior Princess

I am a warrior.

I suit up, teddy bear pajamas covering my torso, red cowgirl boots protecting my feet, and candy bracelets wrapping around my biceps. I cut out the middle of a paper plate, creating a large circle, and wrap it in aluminum foil. This is my chakram, the signature weapon of the warrior princess, and I tie it to my waist with yarn. I grab Jelly Bean, my magnificently white, stick-horse steed. I am ready.

I gallop into the living room for my nightly lesson. As my dad turns on Sci-Fi Channel, Lucy Lawless appears on the screen. Dressed as Xena, Warrior Princess, Lucy and I twirl our swords, throw our chakram, and unleash the battle cry, Aye-yi-yi-yi! When the show ends, I am ready to save my homeland.

Racing across the living room, Jelly Bean and I leap in front of Patty, my Chihuahua, shielding her from the Cyclops that lurks in the hallway. With one flick of my sword, I defeat him. Next, we dash outside to protect the trampoline fortress, which has been overrun by Vikings. I fling my chakram, which sails through the air, its sharp edges easily beheading them all. At my mother’s call, Jelly Bean and I ride back into the house. It, too, is overrun, so before I reach the safety of my room, I must slay goblins and savages and beasts.

When all of my enemies have been vanquished, I collapse onto my bed. Despite the adrenaline of battle, my eyes close within seconds. I sleep soundly, knowing that my home is safe, thanks to me: Kate, Warrior Princess.


This short essay is from my Creative Nonfiction Workshop from Baker University. It was published in Watershed Literary Magazine, where it received the 3rd place Moorman Prize in Prose.