Friendship Goals

Katrina was just walking through the door when her smartphone started ringing. The rings were muffled because the phone was buried somewhere in the depths of her handbag.

She set down the bag of groceries on the nearest and reached into the bag, her hand searching for her phone. She managed to locate it before it went to voicemail.

It was her close friend Bethany. “Hello.”

“Katrina! Oh, good, glad I caught you.” Bethany sounded out of breath and somewhat agitated. 

“What’s up, Beth? Is everything okay?”

“No, no, it’s not okay, actually.” Bethany went on, “My dad just had a heart attack and mom is freaking out. I need to go there.”

“Oh my God. I’m so sorry!” Katrina paused. “Is there anything I can do?” she asked sympathetically.

“Well, yeah, actually, there is.” Now it was Bethany’s turn to pause. “It’s about my chickens.” She rushed on, “Well, obviously, you know I have my chickens.”

Katrina was well aware that Bethany owned chickens. She had seen them several times while visiting Bethany, but always from a distance.

When they would sit out on the patio having drinks, Bethany would happily point out her chickens roaming around the property.

“Look at how happy they are!” Bethany would exclaim.

Katrina would dutifully nod or make sounds of agreement, but quite honestly, couldn’t tell whether the chickens were happy or not. Her main concern was that the feathered fiends kept their distance from her.

While she wasn’t convinced she was a full-on Ornithophobe, birds had always given her the creeps. Something about their beady little black eyes and scaly legs had always struck Katrina as reptilian.

So very creepy.

Groups of seagulls circling overhead would send her rushing into the nearest building. Katrina imagined them en masse descending on her and ripping at her hair with their scaly little legs.

When she confessed this fear to her friend Carter, he’d laughed. “The only thing you have to worry about is one of them taking a shit on you.”

Katrina’s mother was convinced that she’d developed her fear of birds at the age of four while visiting an uncle’s farm. At the time, he’d had several geese that roamed the property. They were bold creatures and would chase any other creatures that ventured into their domain. Even the dogs and cats steered clear of them.

Little Katrina had wandered near the territory of these rather large geese and they’d proceeded to go after her. Her mother said they’d heard her screaming and had found Katrina being pursued by the entire flock. Her uncle had scared them away but not before several of the leaders had pecked at the child.

Although they hadn’t harmed her in any way, she’d been hysterical.

Yep, that was probably the life-changing moment, Katrina reflected.

Bethany’s breathless voice cut into her thoughts, “So, can you do that for me?”

“What was that?” She’d missed part of what Bethany had just said.

“Can you take care of the chickens for me while I’m out of town?” she went on, “It should only be a couple of days, I think.”

Bethany went on, “ I know you have that weird thing about birds, but really, all you’ll need to do is just check their water and maybe toss in some feed into the feeder.”

Katrina’s mind raced through all their mutual friends. There had to be someone eminently more qualified than she was to care for Bethany’s birds.

Someone who wasn’t afraid of birds, at the very least.

Katrina felt terrible for her hesitation. What kind of a friend was she? One of her best friend’s dad was in the hospital and asking for what was really a very small favor. 

Bethany said understandingly, “Look, if there had been anyone else available, I wouldn’t be asking you. I know you’re afraid of birds.”

Katrina took a deep breath, “I can do it. I’m not that afraid of birds.” she said bravely.

She listened attentively as Bethany quickly went through where the feed was located. The waterer had just been filled and would most likely be fine for at least 4 more days. The feeder might need to be topped off. And that was it.

Easy peasy, right?

“And the feed actually might be fine for a few days. I doubt you’ll even have to do anything.” Bethany was saying. “Okay, thank you, thank you so much! I gotta run.”

Katrina sat there looking at her phone dumbly for a minute. What the hell was she going to do?

Maybe she could see if Carter was available to go to Bethany’s with her. That way, if the feeder needed to be filled, he could step in there with the chickens and she wouldn’t have to.

She brightened and started to dial Carter until she remembered that he was out of town at a conference.

Damn!

She scrolled mentally through her list of friends and was appalled to realize there were very few she felt comfortable asking for help with something like this. Most of her friends were casual acquaintances.

Come to think of it, Bethany and Carter were her only close friends.

Defeated, she realized that it was up to her to take care of Bethany’s birds. All on her own. She would just have to suck it up and overcome her fear.

Later that day, she drove out to Bethany’s house. As she turned the ignition off, she took a deep breath. You’ve got this, she told herself.

She stepped out of the car and listened to how quiet it was. Bethany lived on the outskirts of town on a small 3-acre plot of land.

Katrina glanced toward the small barn located a short distance away from Bethany’s gray ranch rambler home. She had helped Bethany paint the small barn after she had moved in. The paint had been peeling and it looked run down. It certainly looked like your classic picturesque red barn.

Before heading to the barn, Katrina reached into the car to grab the big gloves she had brought with her. She was also wearing tall rubber boots and a bulky jacket. If she had possessed a helmet of any kind, she would be wearing that.

For that matter, if she had possessed body armor, she probably would have been wearing that.

She figured the bulky jacket would protect her if the chickens did try to peck her or jump up and claw her. 

Taking another deep breath, she walked towards the barn. 

The barn had a small entry door along with large sliding doors. She entered through the smaller door. She hadn’t been in the barn since the painting party and back when it was chicken-free.

She paused. 

She could hear them. She flipped the light switch next to the door and then paused again, listening.

Katrina walked down the narrow little hallway to the area where there were two stalls. She peered cautiously over the side of the first stall. 

A small flock of chickens moved about in the stall. Some chickens were busy pecking at the bedding in the stall. Other chickens were walking around. One or two were just sitting there. Another one was pecking at the feeder. A few of them glanced up at her, their heads cocked and their beady little eyes blinking at her.

She shuddered. 

She looked closely at the plastic water container and noted that it was almost full to the top. Then she looked at the feeder, which hung suspended from a beam and stopped. It was stainless steel. Completely solid. 

How the hell was she supposed to be able to tell if the feeder was full from outside of the stall?

Shit! She didn’t want to go in there with those things. 

Maybe if she shooed them away from the door and then she could dart in and take a quick look at the feeder and hope like hell it was full. 

Katrina looked around for a broom and found a rake that she assumed must be for cleaning out the stall.

She took yet another deep breath and then opened the stall door. She held the rake slightly in front of her and swept it forward when she stepped into the stall. One chicken jumped and squawked as the rake made contact.

“Shit, sorry,” she said between clenched teeth as she took quick, giant steps over to the feeder, breathing rapidly, and looked down. 

Thank God! It was almost full.

Katrina quickly retreated to the door, all the while sweeping the rake back and forth around her.

She practically slammed the door behind her. 

She put the rake back where she’d found it and then went back to peek over the side of the stall.

She admitted to herself that it hadn’t been so bad. None of the chickens had rushed at her or tried to attack her. They had pretty much scurried out of the way.

Maybe chickens weren’t so bad after all.

Katrina looked around the barn. It was cute in here since Bethany had fixed it up. She wondered what she would put in the second stall? She noticed that the stalls were divided with a partition and there was a Dutch door in the middle.

She moved over to have a look at the other stall and was amazed to see there was a chicken in it.

Why would there be one chicken by itself in the stall, she wondered. Had it somehow flown over the partition?

It looked different than the other chickens. It was fluffier and it had white feathers on its head and legs. It’s actually kind of cute for a chicken, Katrina admitted.

She didn’t want to call Bethany and bother her when she was no doubt in the hospital at this time.

You’ve got this, she told herself. You can do it.

Just think of how impressed Bethany would be when she told her the story of how she had rescued the fluffy white, feather-headed chicken and returned it to where it belonged.

She grabbed the rake again and then stepped into the second stall. She reached over and opened the door between the two stalls and then ushered the feather-headed chicken into the other stall.

“There you go, back with your friends.”

She shut the door and then stepped back into the aisle. She peeked back into the stall and was shocked to see the fluffy feather-head chicken start attacking another chicken.

That chicken fled squawking and then the fluffy little demon bird started attacking another chicken. Chickens flew up in the air, squawking and flapping their wings. Feathers flew all over the place.

“Shit!” Katrina yelled. “Shit, shit, shit!”

The last thing she wanted to do was go into that stall with birds flying and squawking, but she’d caused this chaos. She had no choice.

Katrina gritted her teeth and gripped the rake tightly as she stepped into the melee.

She flung the dividing door open and practically raked the demonic little bird back into the second stall. 

She slammed the door and made sure it was secure. 

After retreating again to the aisle, she looked into the second stall. The fluffy little bird was shaking out its feathers. Now, she noticed there was a feeder and waterer in the back corner of the stall. They were smaller than the ones in the first stall. 

The birds in the first stall seemed fine, strolling about unconcernedly, pecking in the bedding. Order had been restored. It was as if nothing had happened.

Why on earth hadn’t Bethany mentioned there was a bird in a separate stall?

Perhaps she’d been so distracted with worry for her dad, Katrina reasoned.

Obviously, the little fiend was kept separate for a good reason. Why would Bethany keep such a vicious little creature?

Damnit, she realized she had to check the feeder and waterer in the second stall. She trudged back into the stall and made sure both were full.

She was amazed to discover that walking into that stall again hadn’t made her nervous at all. Maybe she was desensitized? Maybe the experience had helped her overcome her fear of birds?

As she drove home, she cranked the tunes and sang along with the radio, she reflected on how the fear seemed to have just vanished.

Who knows, maybe she’d get a parakeet.

Culled from blog.reedsy by Annette Bay

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