“The Giant Chicken” by Samara Kingfisher
February 2, 2021
At a word, we jump, run, and jostle our way to a far corner, vying for a spot on the cushioned couch instead of the cold floor. We attempt to be quiet and hold in our laughter as we peek over the edge of the couch towards the door amidst scolding words from our teacher.
“Keep your head down! The Giant Chicken might see you and eat you.”
One of the most anticipated days of the year was the day the Giant Chicken came. In my multi-grade kindergarten and first-grade classroom, we had many different drills each year, but none so favored as the Chicken drill. We huddled in the library corner, quiet, pressing down our bubbling giggles and the corners of our mouths. We hid from the Giant Chicken poking its head in from the doorway, trying in vain to gobble us up, invisible to those without imagination. We loved that chicken, and we hid from it as if it was our only hope of survival.
In other schools that I went to in later years, lockdown drills were wildly different. Before the drill started, teachers described in detail the possibility of a crazy gunman bursting in and had a new drill plan which required us to attack the gunman ourselves, and scatter in all directions. Some parts of this were fun, like discovering the possibility of being allowed to hurl scissors at someone’s face, but the fear was still there, hanging over me like a cloud of raining daggers. However, before the manufactured innocence of the Giant Chicken was broken, and indeed, after it was broken, tales of the Giants Chicken’s life were woven.
The mysterious white-painted rock inside the shadowed walls of memories vault was the egg of the giant chicken. Every year, at an unpredictable time, the giant chick would shatter its confinement and escape into the world. It would grow to full size in a few moments, then instinct would drive us to our class for its first meal. Then, to continue business, the new giant chicken would lay a new egg in the same spot it was born itself and promptly travel to Europe.
However exact this story may be, our class never did create any stories for what the chicken did in Europe. Maybe it terrorized more schools, maybe it became a tourist and did some sightseeing, maybe it joined a flock of immortal giant killer chickens in the mountains of Norway. Who knows? Let your imagination run free.
The Giant Chicken was our greatest friend—but also our dearest enemy. I look back on those days with reverence for my former self, and with the hope that I can hold on to this dream just a little longer. Every dark thing is just something that sunlight and fun can erase. Every evil deed is just so someone can defeat it. Every barbed word can be healed by a cup of cocoa and a hug. I wish I could still be hidden away in the warm library corner, hiding from that viscous yellow beak.
Samara Kingfisher created this piece during a 2019/20 Writers in the Schools residency at Blue Heron Middle School with WITS writer Jeanine Walker. Read before Gabrielle Hamilton’s 2020/21 Women You Need to Know (WYNK) Series online event.