I think someone's stealing our birds

in The Ink Well3 months ago
For someone who sucked at everything, Joey was becoming too confident. He had come up with a story while everyone was digging their teeth into the sweet, yellow corn, waiting for the apple pie Mama would serve in a few minutes.

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"I think someone's 'tealing our birds."

Joey was a lazy child. Their mother had said that among the three boys she pushed out on the barn floor, Joey was the laziest. He was the child who caught the flu at 7 days old and was too weak to fight it, she did the fighting for him, having to travel long distances on a bicycle to get him treated at a hospital. He was the child who wouldn't grow any teeth till he was almost three years old. Now whenever he spoke, he fought with his teeth, causing the letters like 's' to be pronounced as 'z'. Andrew hated it whenever he spoke.

Papa, the calm-headed man who only had words to say when they were important had only looked up at Joey, wiped the corners of his mouth, and rose to wash his hands. Andrew knew Papa wasn't proud of Joey even if he never said anything bad about him, Mama said so.

When Mama returned with the pie, Andrew could see her eyes dart to and fro the room, resting briefly on the chair Papa had just risen from before gazing at the door to the room they both shared. She dropped the pie, made to move over to the room, then turned again to the two boys.

"Where's your Papa?" She wasn't referring to anyone in particular, but Andrew was one who always had a ready response at his lips.

"He left after Joey said someone's stealing our birds."

Mama's eyes collided with Joey's. She shook her head in that "I'm disappointed in you" manner then stormed out to fetch Papa. She couldn't make him come back to the table.

That night after dinner, Andrew saw that Joey rose just after Papa and did his lazy walk after him. He stretched his head this way and that but couldn't see where they were heading so he pushed the iron chair creating a shrill, scraping noise, and made to follow after them but Mama walked in and without commenting on the two missing heads at the table, chided him to sit back down and finish his food.

When the lights were out and he was sure everyone was curled up in their straw beds with Mama's knitted blankets over their heads, Andrew pulled a sweater over his head, tiptoeing to get the small flashlight Mark had left him before packing up for Oxford and making his way through the small bedroom he had been given because he complained a year ago that Joey's snore kept him awake half of the night.

Andrew hated the insects, they must have been so creepy to decide they would gist only at night, causing a nuisance where people should be asleep. As he made his way to the barn, he reflected on what Joey had asked him the morning before.

"What if someone's stealing our birds? When I checked for Danny's chick boy, he was gone."

Andrew had made his usual snickering sounds and ugly faces at Joey, if he didn't despise his older brother for anything, he despised him for giving human names to all the chicks they ever had.

He wasn't sure but he thought he heard voices in the barn, he quickened his footsteps, careful not to turn his torchlight on until he was at the door. The door flung open before he touched it bringing a sharp sting to his jaw as a pair of big palms collided with them and then dragged at his sweater.

"How dare you Andrew, how dare you betray this family!"

It was Papa, with Joey lurking somewhere behind him. After two rounds of smacking from both Papa and Mama, Andrew was allowed to the table at dinnertime for his first meal. Joey was silent as usual, picking at his food and throwing out the onions, Mama did not chide him, and Papa did not leave the table.

"How'd you know t'was your brother selling them chickens?"

Mama found the courage to ask when the tension in the air seemed more palpable than the four of them. Andrew watched Joey lift his shoulders and then drop them again.

"My intuition told me, heard him rise every night and in the morning, one chick would go missing. Saw him give a new watch to that girl opposite the farm. Wasn't sure so I told Papa then he came to take a look himself."

Andrew darted his eyes to the ground when Mama's eyes came to his. This time, it was her leaving the table.

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Wonderfully colorful story, @iskawrites. It brought to mind Flannery O'Connor. There really isn't higher praise one can give than that. You capture a dialect and culture so they come to life for us. The characters are vivid. We can see poor 'lazy' Joey, in his rather despised position at the table. We can see the disappointed father, disappointed in a son who failed to thrive. And in the end--oh what a sweet end--we enjoy Joey's triumph.

A creative response to the prompt and a delightful story for your audience. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Thank you so much for the support and kind words.🙏🏿

@iskawrites Excellent story, I loved it... This world of writing is fascinating to be part of it.

I am glad you loved this 😍
Thank you so much

This is beautiful, I love your story sis
Sometimes the one we didn’t listen to in the family happens to be a faithful one.

True. We need to always pay attention to them as much as we do others. Thank you dear.

This is a beautiful story, @iskawrites. I love how you portrayed the contrast between Joey's laziness and his surprising perceptiveness. It kept me engaged. And I wasn't expecting the twist at all. Good one there, girl.

I am happy that you were engaged. And the twist threw you off balance. Thank you darling

It seems that the culprit was not the one everyone expected. An entertaining story with an unexpected twist. Very well done.

Thanks for sharing.
Good day.

Yes, no one expected the culprit. I am glad you loved it 🥰

Thank you for reading

What a nice story twist at the end. I love the way you strung your words to make the characters come to life.

I read your story almost without pause. It grabbed me from the beginning and I identified with Joey being an underestimated son and of course I really enjoyed that ending.
Very well told.
Regards @iskawrites

Awwnn... I took your breathe away. I am so happy. Thank you

In the end the disappointing child didn't really disappoint. No one should ever be underestimated or belittled because of their predicament.
Everyone has his/her own peculiar usefulness.

Thanks for posting such a great story

Well, even a bad person have their use .. hehehehe

A lovely story with a beautiful twist that comes to an end I love so much.

I am happy 😊
Thank you Whitney

Wonderful story, Iska! You write from such interesting perspectives. I felt for young Joey. Please keep them coming! !PIZZA !LUV !LADY

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Awwnn.. Right now, I am carrying my shoulder up with pride, Sam. Thank you so much 😍

Wonderful story, Iska! You write from such interesting perspectives. I felt for young Joey. Please keep them coming! !PIZZA !LUV !LADY

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It is very lovely, with the unexpected twist hanging on. Thanks for sharing.

I am glad you loved it. Thank you for visiting 😍

Lovely story @iskawrites. Papa and Mama were surely disappointed in Andrew. Joey's intuition was perfect.

Yes, his intuition was on point. Thank you for your consistent support. I appreciate you.