by Rodnei Crutchfield
Artwork by Liz Chiu
“Don’t look at the chicken flesh; don’t look at the chicken flesh,” I thought to myself. I mean, it’s only chicken right?! Millions of people eat it every day. But as I looked down at my plate, I wondered how far am I willing to go to impress my girlfriend’s parents? I braced for a moment and jammed my fork into the steaming pile of flesh. It was eerily tender.
I was a proud vegetarian like my father and his father before him. There was only one day that I dared to question our family’s dietary choices. Like the thundering voice of God, he declared, “We don’t eat the carcass of another animal unless we are ready to become that animal in the next life.” So that was that.
I scooped out a small piece of the chicken’s breast and felt a sharp pain in my own. I cringed as my mind had already imagined a name for the forsaken fowl. Her name was Peep. I dropped my fork in reverence, and decided to impart a silent eulogy for the poor lass. “Poor Peep. She was born a lowly chicken amongst thousands like her. Raised for slaughter, her innocence was stolen young as her wings were clipped and her beak removed. When Peep was deemed ripe to be murdered, she was packed into a truck and shipped to the abattoir. Ruthlessly, her legs were forced into shackles, her throat was slit, and her body was thrown into a vat of scalding water to remove her feathers. This was the life of Peep and now she is on my plate. Amen.”
Breathing heavily, I pushed her into my mouth. Peep was bland, perhaps a bit fatty, but smothered in garlic and lemon pepper. I chewed until the thought of her life intertwined with the disappointment of my ancestors consumed me. I attempted to swallow, but my throat refused to let the rest of my body become contaminated. I clutched at my neck to my girlfriend’s horror. Crashing out of the chair, I prayed that one of them could save me from Peep’s wrath. Darkness faded in as I choked. My father’s words loomed in my mind.
Moments later, I found myself in a thick shell… hatching.