Creative Composition of the Month is a monthly column courtesy of UFV’s Creative Writing Club. Every month, one short story, poem, descriptive essay, or other form of original work from UFV students will appear in The Cascade to enlighten your creative spirit. Happy reading!
Chicken today, feathers tomorrow
By Janice Lang
Our thin sandals flap in rhythm with one another as we walk down the cobblestone street.
Mother is ahead of us. It feels as though I have a chain around my neck, and I’m being pulled to the slaughterhouse where any last shred of my dignity will be sacrificed.
My mother yells back to us, “Hurry up girls, the food bank is only open for another half hour.”
“Geez, do you think she could’ve said that any louder?” My sister groans.
Cringing from the blisters on our feet, we pick up the pace and press on. Throngs of people lean against the foodbank wall. A woman states how she has lost her welfare cheque and has no food for her three kids, though the sores on her face and dark circles under her eyes tell a different story.
“Next,” yells the food bank clerk. A few moments later the same lady walks past us with bags of day-old bread and unsellable produce.
“Are we vegetarians?” asks one of her kids.
“Not on purpose,” replies the woman.
Privileged people in cars drive by and glare at us as if we are criminals in a police lineup. My sister and I raise a finger to salute the snobs. Mother slaps our hands. “Show some class,” she demands. The hypocrisy of her words sends us into a fit of laughter. Picking through boxes of wilted vegetables and bins of dented cans, our paper bags are full.
“Free food,” I scoff. “There’s nothing free about it.”
Walking home, we pass a beautiful heritage house. Loud music escapes from the open windows. “I Want to Break Free” by Queen plays. I start thinking about my exam tomorrow. I plan to study all night; failure is not an option.
When our government cheque arrives, my mother treats us to take-out.
“Eat girls, eat. It’s chicken today and feathers tomorrow.”