Crossing Napoleon’s Yard
By Anji Sandage
Their eyes met, his brown-flecked eyeballs unblinking. He was much smaller than she was, but she also knew that without a weapon she was no match for him. Dena had been in this position before—only this time was different . . . this time, as she desperately scanned the area for a stick; anything to fight him off; she couldn’t see even a decent sized twig within her reach. Her palms began to sweat. Without turning her back, she ever so carefully, slowly, took a step backwards, and then another. He did not move, but looked steadily on, his small head cocked to the side.
A wave of anger briefly swept over her. How could her sisters have forgotten the plan? She backed up more quickly now, ready to turn and bolt the first chance she got. He was rising slowly, getting ready to attack. Quickly she turned; taking one gigantic leap, when suddenly, she tripped, hitting the ground with full force.
Egg collecting was never easy. It was the responsibility of the girls to collect the eggs once in the morning, and again in the evening. Now, this doesn’t seem to be such a big deal, but then again, you have never met Napoleon.
Napoleon was small, that is true, but he was also swift, powerful, and fearsome—a true enemy to any egg collector who crossed his territory. In his mind, his territory was any part of the farm.
Napoleon was a rooster with beautiful iridescent blue and green tail plumage streaming out behind his jet-black body. His eyes were yellow with brown flecks, and he had a blood red comb at the crest of his head that seemed to drip down under his chin to his waddle—he had looked majestic when father had first brought him home. Now he just looked frightening.
Things had not gone as she and her sisters had planned, of course. Not only had the stick been missing, but today Dena had to get the eggs alone.
She raised herself up with her hands, screaming with rage and spitting dirt and blood. She could hear Napoleon’s quick little footsteps getting closer and closer.
“Why couldn’t they just leave the stupid stick by the door?” she screamed, pulling herself to her feet. She Staggered a little, and then saw for the first time what she had tripped over—a three-foot piece of pvc pipe. Grabbing it and turning in one movement, Dena could feel short bursts of air as Napoleon’s wings beat the air. He was attacking! Without thinking, she swung the piece of pipe with full force at the blur of feathers and talons.
Crack! In horror, she watched wide-eyed as Napoleon flew, spinning through the air, landing with a thud next to Mother’s zucchini patch. He hopped right back up and began to run towards her again, his little feet stirring up dust. A flood of relief passed through her as once again she turned to run. At least he wasn’t hurt.
She had only taken two steps when she realized that she could no longer hear Napoleon running. The sound of his footfalls had been replaced by strange thumping noise. Stopping, she slowly turned to see Napoleon thrashing wildly on the ground.
That very evening, mother served ‘mean roster soup’ and everyone, even Daddy, said it was the best they had ever had.
copyright 2009 by Anji Sandage; author retains all rights to the story.