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Peckers Honour

To lighten up your Monday, here is the last week’s winning story, “Peckers Honour” by Avalina Kreska. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Note, since this is a global magazine, the writers are free to use the spelling conventions of their own country.

Peckers Honour

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“THERE! There’s the sign, oh, you almost missed it!” Simone yelled, tugging at Roy’s sleeve. Slowing down, Roy waited before crossing lanes then turned down the steep hill towards the farmhouse. The road was really just a track; his four wheel drive would have a real challenge for a change. Like being on a stormy sea, they were tossed about inside. Roy inwardly groaned at the clean-up job he’d have to do when he got back.

“Oh look, there’s one!” Simone shouted, pointing at a raggedy tailed cockerel. The cockerel lifted its scrawny neck and crowed. It was more like a squeak. Roy looked at Simone and chuckled.

“Bit pathetic wasn’t it?” he said. Simone giggled. Arriving, they carefully stepped out of the Land Rover, gingerly walking over towards a group of outbuildings. Damn it, Roy thought, all this mud will be inside the car. Another chicken ran past them, again, not looking it’s best, in fact, Roy thought it looked decidedly shifty.

“Ahoy there!” a man’s voice was heard coming from a side building. They both turned.

“Ahoy!” Simone said, waving.

“You the chicken woman that rang?” the man said, emerging from a dilapidated doorway.

“I am indeed, and this is my husband, Roy.” The man came towards them, wiping his hands on his overalls. Roy dreaded touching the man. The man stuck out his hand; Roy shook it, his hand was rough but slimy, Roy resisted the urge to sniff his fingers.

“Ay, you come to the right place, chickens, we got chickens, what you looking for?” he said, glancing down at Simone’s low cut top.

“As I said on the phone, some good layers. I used to keep chickens as a girl, thought it would be fun to start again,” she told him, hoping his eyes would rise to meet hers. Roy wandered towards the buildings.

“I, er, I wouldn’t go in there if I were you, the chickens you want are this way,” the man said, lighting a cigarette. Roy looked through a crack in the door, thought his eyes were deceiving him, there were rows of green army uniforms, too small for even a child.

“How old are these birds?” Roy asked as they walked to a large coop with shitty food bowls and no fresh water. He was starting to get a bad feeling about this.

“All young-uns – good enough for you, all one-year-olds they are, you’ll have no problems with these.” Roy got a whiff from the enclosure; he looked at Simone, who shrugged her shoulders.

“You said you’d kept them before like? So how many do you want?” the man kicked the coup startling the hens inside, they rushed out squawking. They only looked marginally better than the ones they passed on the track. Simone bent a knee and peered closer. Something was wrong about them; she looked closer still. Then she realised, they were each missing an eye! She stood up in amazement.

“But – but – these chickens have only got one eye,” she swung around to look at the others, “and this one’s only got one leg!” The man sniffed. Simone could’ve sworn that it was an emotional sniff. He put one leg over the fence and with the quickness of a ninja he scooped one up, the hen didn’t resist.

“War wounds. This one is Daisy; she’s a good layer, she’s a year older, shot through the eye, she was. What a trooper! Night raid it was.” The man stroked the top of her head. Roy caught Simone’s eye; she knew that look, what in the crazy world of mothers is going on? Simone looked closer, just under the top feathers, something caught her eye.

“There’s something under its feathers,” Simone said, Roy joined her, peering closely. The man swept a bunch of feathers aside. Staring back at them all was the smallest medal they’d ever seen.

“She’s a war hero is our Daisy! Awarded the Peckers Honour for bravery!” Simone tapped it gently; it was definitely metal. Roy gave Simone a little nip on the back of her buttock with his fingernails like pincers. She stifled a guffaw.

“My God! That’s amazing! I – We’ve never seen a chicken war hero have we, Simone?” Roy said, hamming it up. She shook her head, biting her lip. The man beamed, glad that they were interested.

“Oh yes, all these birds I’m letting go, all have seen a battle; every single one deserves a good home, someone kind to love them as I do-o-o-o!” he burst into tears. Roy’s eyes said I can’t stand much more before I burst. PLEASE!! Simone pulled herself together fast.

“But Mr, if you love them so much, why are you giving them away?” she asked sincerely. He wiped away the tears.

“More war coming, from the North, haven’t got the time to give to them, no, better they go, more will take their place…” he sniffed and put Daisy back down, then changed his mind, searched around for a container, and shoved her inside.

“How many more Miss?” She looked at Roy, he shrugged and quickly turned away.

“Two more should do it, for starters, maybe – er -after the war, I might come back…” The man nodded, and again, with the swiftness of a ninja, grabbed two more. Safe inside, the birds settled quickly.

“That’ll be all then?” the man asked, tears glistening in his eyes. They both nodded, glad to get away from this crazy farmer. They walked back past the buildings, Roy looked, the uniforms were gone. He must have been seeing things for sure. Walking back up the path, Simone looked back, the man had gone.

“Soon be home my ladies,” she said to the housed chickens. Roy burst out laughing making Simone laugh too.

“Oh my GOD, how did I keep a straight face? Chicken war! Hahahaa!” he leaned over like he was going to vomit. Simone loaded the chickens in the back of the car.

“Peckers Honour,” Simone said, tapping the skin of the car. That was enough for Roy to start a fresh round of hysterics, he hung onto the car door. Simone held her stomach.

“Dooon’t – Sh-shushhh, he’ll hear us, come on let’s go, let’s get these war heroes home!” They climbed into the Land Rover, Roy looked behind him and backed his way up slowly.

“Tell you what, he was one fast dude for an old man, though,” Roy said, head out the window. They were near the top when they heard distant shouts. They looked at one another, faint at first. Roy continued up the track, the car precariously swinging side to side. He paused.

“Can you hear that?” Simone wound down the window and stuck her head out.

“Voices I think.” Roy reached the top; he had to back out onto the main road, all the cars had stopped both ways. Crossing the road were at least one hundred chickens, dressed in army uniforms, marching in perfect unison, their wattles flapping as they strode. Most had tiny, shiny rifles, others swords. A large cockerel marched off to the side, shouting commands. Simone’s mouth was open so wide she dribbled.

“From the North…” Roy said absentmindedly.

“Yes, more peckers…” Simone said.

Mondays at the Nest

Here is another opportunity to be published here. This a weekly contest. You can enter as often as you like. Hope to see you soon.

Travails of the Wayward Writer

Like you, I like to laugh. Laughter cleanses the blemishes on the soul that build up like cobwebs from the daily grind. As a child, I waited for my Dad to come home from the long business trips because I knew he would come back with stories that made me laugh. Although his humor was innocuous, as I read more, I grew to like satiric humor with social commentary. Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, and Marathi humorist P.L Deshpande became my favorite writers. I rolled over laughing when I read the exchanges between Sir Winston Churchill and the fools who were the objects of his sharp wit.

These were some of the classic masters. Later when I became a mother and lived the life of a stay-at-home mother for a short time, I discovered Erma Bombeck and instantly identified with her brand of humor.

When I started working in the…

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Spotlight: The Literary Nest

Flash! Friday

One thing’s clear: Pratibha‘s no ordinary draggin. In addition to writing for us all the time here at FF, last year she signed on to judge a term. When that was done, she signed on again. And when that was over, well, she up and launched her own literary magazine, The Literary Nest

You can see why we had no choice but to talk to her about it! Pratibha, you crazy, fabulous writer — welcome to Spotlight!

The Literary Nest The Literary Nest

What motivated you to found The Literary Nest?

There are only a handful of well-known print magazines that publish unsolicited work from unknown authors.  I wanted to open up publishing opportunities for skillful and imaginative writers who languish in oblivion because of the lack of publishing opportunities.

The literary world is filled with writings from MFA graduates, but there are many capable writers who do not have…

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Mother’s Day 2015

Dear Readers,

After reading the emails from the writers, I have decided to extend the deadline for the Mother’s Day 2015 Contest to June 30th, 2015. The new name for the contest is “Unconventional Motherhood.” For this contest, think about the mothers on the margins. The margins could be societal, economical, psychological, or any other that you can think of.

To spur your creative juices flowing in different directions, here is a link to the well-known story Thank You Ma’am by Langston Hughes. The story highlights a small slice of mothering in an unlikely situation. People receive lessons about life as well as mothering from unexpected sources throughout their lives without even realizing it.

Here is another point view about mothering. An article by Jane Aronson, “Why I Don’t Like Mother’s Day.”

Thank you for your patience and support.  To submit an entry to the contest, write a story under 2500 words and send it in a MS Word document (.doc, .docx, or, .rtf) to theliterarynest (at) gmail.com.  The contest deadline is June 30th, 2015.

Motherhood: Mothering on the Margins – A Contest

by Tatters
(CC BY 2.0) by Tatters

May 10, 2015 is the Mother’s Day. Since that day in 1908, Anna Jarvis held the memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia, the celebration has evolved into honoring and celebrating motherhood practically all over the world. What is your definition of motherhood? What comes to your mind when you think of the word mother?

We all have encountered many faces of literary mothers over our reading lives: from the kind and beloved mothers in Shyamchi Aai (Shyam’s Mother – A Marathi Classic) and The Little Women, to the uncertain mothers in Pride and Prejudice and The Mill on the Floss, to the wicked mothers in Hamlet and Lolita, to the tortured mothers in Sophie’s Choice and “Rani Ma Ka Chabutara” (Queen Mother’s Perch – A Hindi short story by Mannu Bhandari).

Which one do you remember from your reading? For this contest, think about the mothers on the margins. The margins could be societal, economical, psychological, or any other that you can think of.

Think about it and then write a story under 2500 words and send it in a MS Word document (.doc, .docx, or, .rtf) to theliterarynest (at) gmail.com. We will publish the winning story on our site on the Mother’s Day 2015.

We Salute

On this International Women’s Day, we salute the women of this world. Whoever you are or wherever you are. We admire your accomplishments in every field arts, science, engineering, farming, and every form of doing and being. We remember and pay tribute to the women of the world who suffer unspeakable horrors under the name of religion or culture.

Above all, we salute women who raise the sons who think of women as fellow human beings with strengths and frailties, and not as goddesses, bitches, or whores.

#WD2015
#MakeItHappen

A Gently Told Tale – Night Island by Mary Helen Specht

Photo Source

Night Island by Mary Helen Specht
Prairie Schooner Winter 2014 Issue Volume 88 Number 3

I read this gently told story about a week ago, and I can’t forget it. Who would have thought a National Geographic-asque account would turn into a subtle fable of man’s transgressions against the nature? A couple observes the mating rituals of the turtles by the beach, and the tone in the earlier part of the story is measured and research-erly,

“Billy straddled the animal’s rubbery back in order to measure her shell at the widest point and then her head. Isabella jotted down the numbers in a notebook.”

Just a couple of researchers doing their duty, but what the narrator observes in the end is heartbreaking. The tone of the narrator at the end is non-judgmental and stoic, but it delivers the necessary punch regardless. The subtle suggestion earlier in the story,

“[…]she liked to imagine her own belly full of babies and to wonder if—one day—they would look like her or like him.”

foreshadows the conclusion of the story. Yet another observation by the narrator,

“Billy’s eyes were trained on the turtle’s underbelly, and it was during these moments Isabella felt most alone; by his total concentration on the animal, he pressed his absence through her.”

hints at the discord between the characters and suggests that Isabella carries the burden of conscience, and she is attuned to the injustice they are about to inflict on the animal realm.

The story is available online, (at least for now): http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/excerpt/night-island