Protecting Sarah: Flash Fiction by cam
Connie dashed across the yard toward the barn where the rooster chased her six year old daughter. She bent down and grabbed a broken board lying beside the picket fence and whipped it at the bird. The shot was dead on, but the rooster shook it off along with a few feathers and bolted into the barn. Connie ran to little Sarah and picked her up.
“Mommy,” Sarah said between sobs, “Why does Rocky do that? Most the time he’s great, but he gets crazy, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, he gets crazy, and I’m afraid somebody is going to get hurt. Those spurs on his legs are long and sharp. We really need to get rid of Rocky.”
“But he’s like one of the family when he’s nice.”
“Don’t you remember the time you got off the bus and he blindsided you from the bushes?
“I remember, but….”
“Great, here comes the other crazed member of the family,” Connie said under her breath.
“Never mind, Pumpkin. I was just thinking out loud.”
Fred, Connie’s husband, came striding toward them, red faced, teeth clenched, fists doubled.
“One day you’re gonna kill that rooster, and you’ll be sorry. I ain’t blackened one of your eyes in a while, but I’ll do it again if you don’t leave that rooster alone.” Fred reached for Sarah, but Connie turned away and held her tight. “You little brat. What did you do to the rooster to make him mad? I bet you were in the barn throwin’ things at him just like your mom does. I oughta whip you with that board she threw at him.”
“Get away, Fred. You’re angry and you’re scaring us.” She put Sarah down and they ran into the house. Upstairs in Sarah’s room, she padlocked the door, something they had needed and used in the past. They lay on the bed and listened to Fred stomp around downstairs. He threw things and banged pans while he made himself a late breakfast.
Fred worked the third shift and had just gotten home. After he ate, he would spend the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon sleeping. That was when Connie and Sarah could go about their day without fear.
Sarah played in the yard while Connie sat in the shade holding an ice pack over her left eye. Her cat, Diva, was sitting in her lap, listening to Connie as she thought out loud. “I have an enraged rooster and an irate husband. It's time I decided what I’m going to do about them, because Sarah and I can’t go on living like this.”
Connie stood in front of the chest freezer in a dark corner of the basement, afraid that at any moment it would burst open and broadcast to the world, like a giant white boom-box, the deed she had just committed.
In the beginning he had been kind and gentle, and at times still was, but something had snapped. From that day on, if he got his feathers ruffled, he became a terror to her and Sarah.
She stared at her own hands as if they were novelty items in a Cracker Barrel gift shop, turning them first this way, then that way, studying how the dried blood cracked around her knuckles.
After she had killed him, she cut off his head and let all the blood run out. Then she cut him up into pieces and put him in the freezer. Her father had been a butcher, and she had learned a good deal about the slaughtering process growing up.
Had he really been that bad? Had he deserved this? She remembered Sarah running and screaming around their small farm, terrified of what he would do if he caught her. But Connie was always there to protect her little girl.
He seemed determined to be the biggest and the baddest unless he was around men. At those times, he was tame, even meek. But with women and children, he was boss and would allow no one to forget that fact. There was a pecking order around here, and he was at the top. He would strut around between the house and the barn, puff his chest out and make life miserable for everybody. It was only a matter of time before someone got seriously hurt. She had taken care of that. But what would she say when Sarah came home and he wasn’t there? Simple. He ran off. He found himself a young chick and ran off with her. It happens all the time.
Connie heard the bus stop out front. Sarah would walk to the house quietly, not running and playing like some would on a Friday after school. She would be careful not to irritate him. If he was sleeping, they would take care to not wake him.
Connie scanned the back yard where she had killed him and cut him up. She wanted to be sure she had cleaned up all signs of her deed. A glint of light caught her eye, sunlight reflecting off metal. She maneuvered around the picnic table and bent down. Her gut wrenched, and she nearly doubled over. Sarah was coming. She would see it and know what had happened. Connie grabbed the thing and stuffed it into her pocket just in time.
“Where is he?” Sarah said. “Is he in the barn?”
“I haven’t seen him all day,” Connie said. “I’m sure he will show up sooner or later. He always does. Come on. Let’s go in and finish making our dinner for tonight.”
“What are we having, Mommy, cause I’m really hungry.”
“Something special, Pumpkin. We’re having homemade chicken soup.”
“Yummy,” said Sarah as she bounded off into the house.
Connie followed, still hoping she had cleaned up well enough after her day of killing. She put her hand into her pocket and felt the thing; her husbands wedding band still wrapped around his finger.