She pulled on the muck boots left by the door leading out into the back garden. It had rained the previous night so the already messy garden was wet and muddy. She didn’t want to collect the eggs from the chicken coup, she was still sleepy and the big rooster was out and he doesn’t like people. But She did what she was told, and stepped out the back door.
The boots squished several inches into the muck as she walked, causing her to have to take bigger steps. She held her dress hem up—she hated dresses—so she didn’t get mud on it. She sloshed and squished her way to the hen house, keeping her eyes open for that mean old rooster.
She made it safely to the hen coop, unlatching the door and squeezing in before letting any hens out. Inside she began reaching for eggs and placing them gently in the pockets of her apron. Her mother had sewn it specifically for collecting eggs, from an old dress. “Waste not, want not” she always said.
She picked up an egg, and it felt different than the others. She looked at it before putting it in her apron. It looked blue, and dirty. She shrugged and thought nothing of it, and shoved it in a pocket.
Coming back out in the mud she had to walk much more slowly this time, being cautious not to break any of the eggs. Halfway back to the house, she heard that mean old rooster crow. “Oh no,” she moaned. She hoisted the apron up as best she could, taking wider steps in attempt to cover more ground. She heard him screech again and turned to look.
He was running at her, somehow the mud wasn’t a challenge for him.
Thinking on her feet she gave up on the boots and stepped right out of them. It wasn’t hard, they were sized for a man she was but a child. She felt the mud squish messily between her toes as she began to slide. She lost her balance and landed with her hands in the mud. Instead of trying to fumble her way back up, she grabbed a handful of mud. And just like when she threw rocks at the ripe apples in the tree in the front of the house, her aim was always true.
The handful of thick mud slapped the rooster right in the head. He toppled backward and flapped his wings in anger. “I can’t wait to cook at eat you!” she screamed at him. She launched herself up out of the mud, gained her balance quickly and rushed to the door. She’d just gotten herself inside when she heard him pecking aggressively at the wood door.
She stuck her tongue out, even though she knew a rooster couldn’t see through a door, and turned around to see her mother glaring angrily at her.
“Caelyn! Look at you!” her mother said. “You’re an awful mess!” She sighed, rolled her eyes, and shrugged. “Can you collect eggs without turning into a mud golem?”
“IT WAS THE ROOSTER!” she groaned. She untied the apron gently and put it in her mother’s outstretched hands. Her mother rolled her eyes, a twinkle in them despite the serious face.
“What in the devil?!” Her father walked in. “What happened to you?” He asked her, looking at both of them “And where are my boots?”
In attempt to distract him, she walked over to her mother, who was placing the safely gathered eggs into a bowl. “Pa, look at this!” She pulled the unique egg out of the pocket of the apron and showed him.
“It was in the roost with the other eggs.”
“Hmm,” he took the egg gently and looked it over. “Wonder how it got there.” He said. “It’s definitely not a chicken egg. Best throw it out, I’d say. There are birds who will leave their eggs in another’s nest to raise.
But it’s not been kept warm so it’s likely no good.” He handed it back to her and stood. “Still, I best go check the coop to make sure nothing else can get in or out.”
“Kick that rooster for me!” She told him.
She did not throw the egg out. It looked a little dirty, but she liked it. Something about it seemed special. She took it to her bed, wrapped it in an old rag, and set it on a shelf where her small siblings couldn’t bother it. By then her mother called, “Come dear, lets get the mud off before you start sprouting weeds!”
Later that evening, just before bed, Caelyn had practically forgotten about the little blue egg. When she climbed into bed, she saw it on the window seal. “Oh! I forgot about you!” She told the egg. She got it down and held it in her hands. “What will you be?” She asked it. She remembered what her father said, it had not been kept warm. So it might not become anything.
Every day she checked the egg. Held it in her hands. In the mornings when she woke, between chores, and before bed. And she’d place it in its nest of rags every night. A few times she had to shoo away her younger siblings. And one baby brother ran to their mother. “Momma momma!” He cried out. “I want a baby egg for keeps!”
“Shush Jonah Junior!” Caelyn groaned. She’d tried desperately to reach him before he’d gotten to their mother, who sat patching their father’s britches.
“Caelyn?” She asked. “What’s he on about?”
“I don’t know,” she said sheepishly. But she couldn’t meet her mother’s eyes, so she knew it was a lie. ”I kept the egg Papa told me to throw out.” She confessed. “I couldn’t just throw it away!”
At that moment Papa walked in. “What’s all the ruckus, now?” He asked, shaking off his jacket.
Caelyn looked at her mother, hoping for a reprieve from punishment, that her mother would keep her secret. But she wouldn’t be so lucky.
“Our eldest child has kept herself a friend.” She told him, reminding him of the little blue egg from a few weeks before.
“Don’t you understand that egg may not hatch?” He said kindly. “I don’t want your heart broken over a lifeless egg.”
“I know, Papa.” She said sadly. “But I must try, I couldn’t just throw him out!”
“Him?” He asked, eyebrow raised.
“I dunno.” She shrugged, “I just assumed!”
Both parents chucked and looked at their firstborn. “Okay,” Papa said,
“In the unlikely event that that egg hatches, if it comes out as something dangerous, we must get rid of it appropriately. But, anything else, it will likely find you to be its mother and will be your responsibility.” He told her firmly.
“So I can keep it?!” She was elated.
“I hope it’s a dragon!” Jonah Junior gigged.
Just a few days later, Caelyn had to pull yet another child away from her window seal nest. “But its making noises,” her little sister said.
“It’s what?!” She asked in disbelief. She climbed up and stared down at the egg, and sure enough tiny cracks had begun to form. She picked it up gently and held it. She could feel small movements inside, and see whatever was inside pushing its way through the cracks. It didn’t take long for all her siblings and her parents to be in the room standing over her as she held the egg.
“Well, that’s a surprise.” Her father said. She beamed up at him, until he broke the news. “It might take a while for it to fully hatch. You cannot hold it the entire time.” He told her. “Best put it back in a warm safe place, and go on about your day.”
“Ah,” she sighed, disappointed.
“You can come back and check on it later.” He told her.
She did as she was told, forbidding her siblings from even going near her bed, where she tucked in her precious egg, and checked on it, it seemed, every few minutes.
She even ignored that mean old rooster when she went out to collect eggs.
Several hours later, at bedtime, when everyone else had crawled into bed, Caelyn sat in her night gown, cradling the egg in its rag nest in her lap. She whispered to it quietly, “You can do it,” she said. “I’m not leaving you.” Soon she could not hold her eyes open any longer and she dosed off with the egg in the crook of her arm.
Just as the sun rose the next morning, she woke and looked down at her egg. A large crack had formed, and all that held the egg together was the thin white membrane inside the shell. Whatever wa inside was pecking—because it had a beak—rapidly at the inside.
Caelyn sat up and gently held the egg. The animal inside began to wiggle and push the halves of the shell apart. “You can do it!” She said. “Come on!” She encouraged it to move and keep going. Within a few moments, her entire family was awake and watching the event in awe.
Soon, out pushed a tiny pink, thing. “What is that?!” One of the children asked in disbelief. “Looks like a chicken with no feathers!”
It made tiny chirping noises as the family looked on. “Based on the shape of its very tiny beak,” Papa said, “It’s a bird of prey, of some type.”
“Does that mean I have to get rid of it?!” Caelyn asked in shock.
“Uh, not necessarily.” He told her. “But your not gonna like what you’ll have to do to feed it.”
She did, in fact, not like that she had to collect worms and other small bits of meat to feed her new featherless friend. She was also able to find caterpillars and Mama let her have scrambled hen eggs to feed them.
And soon, he began to grow feathers, black feathers that started fluffy and fuzzy.
But the most striking thing of all about her new friend, who they learned was a raven, was that he had oddly piercing blue eyes.
“I never imagined a bird could look so lovingly at a child,” Mama once said, as she watched Caelyn feed the blue eyed bird. “Or a girl love a bird as much as she loves this one.”
“Ravens are smart, if not mischievous birds,” Papa said. “If she’s good to him—and she is—he’ll be good to her.”
“What shall I call you?” She asked the clever bird, who hopped around now, waiting for food. He tilted his head and looked at her in his curious way. “Warren,” she thought aloud. The first name that came to mind. “Mama, was that the name of the brave knight at the story you told us? The one who saved the land?”
“Hmm? Oh yes.” She replied.
“Then he shall be called Warren.”
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