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Chicken Lady Ann
For the children: An unfinished story by Rachel


Rachel liked to write; long before she took creative writing at UNC-W, she wrote (but did not finish) a story she called "Chicken Lady Ann".
Here is that story.

Tanya played among the rows of tall green stalks of corn, plaiting the long golden silks of the tiny ears and talking to them as if they were her children. 

“Now Margie,” she said to one, “you’re all ready to go to church.  I’ve already combed your hair.  Mary, I’ll get to you in a minute.”

Tanya had been playing there in her grandfather’s fields since she was about five years old.  She was now a big girl of eight, with a very active imagination.  She had lived there on the farm all her life and had grown to love walking through the fields and exploring the woods beyond.  Each field provoked a very special feeling in Tanya’s small breast, for each represented a very special season to her.  Tanya knew this instinctively, without reasoning.  She only knew that she loved to visit a certain field when she was feeling a certain way.

 

Beyond her grandfather’s farm, lived “Chicken-Lady Ann”, as Tanya called her.  She was a wrinkled old lady who lived all alone in a big rambling house.  Her white hair, always pulled severely back from her face in a tight ball, was always covered with a big heavily starched white bonnet, which waved at Tanya when she spoke. Tanya didn’t like going to Miss Ann’s house, but she would sometimes walk down the road, stare at her house and make up stories about Miss Ann being a chicken.    

                   

Today, when she was feeling particularly lonely, Tanya felt the urge to lose herself in the cornfield and be with her “family”.  She had several families there and she could play there for hours without feeling alone.

She had just decided to take her family out for a brisk walk in the woods when she heard the high clear voice of her grandmother calling, “Tanya!     Tanya! Tanya, you hear me?”   

     

Snapped back to reality with a start, Tanya jumped to her feet and ran through the cornfield toward the house.  Before going to face her grandmother, she stopped and tried vainly to brush the dirt from the freshly washed and ironed jeans grandma had laid out for her before sending her out to play.

Before sending her out to play, “Grandma”, as Tanya called her, had laid out freshly washed and ironed jeans and shirt and had plaited her long coarse black hair neatly.

 
“Don’t you go out there and wallow in that dirt, child”, she told her sternly.  “You are too big a girl to be playing in the dirt all the time.”  What you need is someone around here with the time to teach you how to be a lady.”  She shook her head sadly.  “Well, run along and play, and don’t go far.  And don’t you go over there staring at Miss Ann’s house either, making her nervous.”

 

For a while Tanya stood around and watched as Grandma went about her daily cores of brushing up the kitchen and getting ready to go and work in her garden.


“Grandma,” Tanya asked, “When is Mama coming to see me?”  It’s been almost a month since she’s been to see me.”

 

“I don’t know, child.  Your mama’s having her troubles right now, but don’t you worry, she’ll turn up before long.”  She always has and she always will.”

 
“Do you think she’s forgotten me?”

 

“Of course she hasn’t forgotten you, Honey.  You don’t forget people you love.  She’ll probably be here in another week.”

 

“Grandma, why doesn’t she take me with her?  I’d love to travel around with her and Eddie.  Then I’d have someone to talk to sometimes.”


Grandma looked at her sharply and suddenly was very sad.  She sat down slowly as if she were very tired and called Tanya to her
.

 

“Now listen honey, she said, “Your mama’s doing the best she can for you.  I’ve told you that time after time.  You can’t go with her until she gets a place for you to live.  When she does, she’ll come to get you and you’ll be together for good.  Meanwhile, you just be patient and try to remember that Grandpa and I love you very much.  Why if we didn’t have you, I don’t know what we’d do.”

 

Grandma pulled Tanya to her and gave her a great big hug.  Tanya loved the times when Grandma was like this.  She reveled in being close to her.  It made her feel so warm and good.  She nestled even closer to her and clasped her skinny arms around her neck and squeezed until Grandma complained that she would squeeze all the breath out of her; but she said it so softly that Tanya knew that she really wasn’t mad.

 

“Now get out of here child so I can get my work done.”

 

Tanya skipped outside, momentarily basking in the knowledge and security of love.  She felt so good that she decided to go and visit old Chicken Lady Ann down at the next farm.  She was a queer old lady and Tanya was sometimes frightened of her; but today she felt so good that she just had to talk to someone.

 

As she walked down that long dusty road toward Miss Ann’s house, she imagined herself traveling along in a big black car like the one Mama and Eddie were riding in the last time they had come to visit her.  She tried to imagine what it would feel like to sit right there between the two of them, but as hard as she tried, she couldn’t quite make it come real in her mind.

 

Suddenly, she stopped short and stared ahead.  There in the middle of the road was Miss Ann.  She stood there, uncertain about what to do.  Something inside her kept telling her to run – yet her legs seemed glued to the spot.

 

As she stood there staring, Miss Ann beckoned to her and then disappeared.

 

Tanya just continued to stand there staring at the place where Miss Ann should have been.  Then in sudden motion, she turned and fled down the road toward the house and Grandma.

           
Before she reached home, reason had stirred in her.  Grandma had often warned her about believing the stories she often made up.

 

“You have to learn the difference between what’s real and what isn’t,” she had scolded.

 

“I didn’t make this up,’ she argued to herself.  Yet she decided it was safer not to tell.  It really couldn’t have happened.

 

She had on occasions, pretended that the white fluffy chickens that clucked around the yard were Miss Ann.  They looked just like her.  They were fat and strutted around just like Miss Ann.  Besides when Miss Ann put on her big, white bonnet, she looked just like one of Grandma’s chickens.

 

Darkness gathered about the farm.  The animals were brought in to the barn and the evening chores were done.  Grandma bustled around in the kitchen and Grandpa sat silently by enjoying his pipe.

 

Tanya sat on the porch steps looking out into the gathering darkness.  She felt like taking a walk and strolled down to the barn to say goodnight to the animals.  She peeked in at the cows, looked them right in the eyes and said quite seriously, “Goodnight, lovely, I’ll see you tomorrow,” as was her custom.  She passed the mules’ stall and talked to them awhile and slowly strolled back into the circle of light that was the open kitchen door.  She began to hurry as she realized that it was suddenly getting much darker.

 

When she had almost reached the house, she spotted Miss Ann sitting on top of the very barn she had just left.  She was staring down at her.

 

Fright overtook her and her feet were propelled as if by wings.  Her screams echoed around the farm as she yelled for her Grandmother.

 

“Grandma!  Help!  It’s Miss Ann!  There on the barn,” she screamed incoherently.

 

Grandma and Grandpa heard her screams and ran outside to her rescue.  By the time they had reached her, Tanya had fallen down in her haste to get away from Miss Ann.

 
“Hush child!  Hush, her Grandmother soothed her back from the edge of hysteria.

“That’s not Miss Ann up there, that’s my old white chicken”.  …………
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Mrs. Freeman never finished this story.  How do you think she would have ended it? 

Was it really Miss Ann sitting on top of the barn or only one of Grandma’s white chickens?

 

Did Tanya’s mama and Eddie come to take her away from the farm?


Write an ending for Mrs. Freeman’s story.

Also---What do you think Chicken –Lady Ann looked like? Can you see her in your mind’s eye?

The picture above is one child's idea of what "Chicken Lady Ann" looked like. But what do YOU think she looked like?


Can you draw her?

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