Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)
TITLE: Unwelcome Guests
By LaRue Kendrick
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It was Nina’s job to gather eggs from the hen house each evening. She picked up the woven basket with straw in the bottom from where it hung on its back porch hook. With the basket in one hand and a Popsicle in the other, she opened the screen door and strolled across the yard to the hen house. It wasn’t dusk yet, so the chickens were still roaming around the yard and orchard in search of bugs, worms and other chicken delicacies. Yuck!
In days past, Nina had received her share of scoldings and punishment for throwing eggs at the chickens just to hear them squawk and flap their wings as they ran away from her. She had finally learned her lesson that this was not acceptable behavior, no matter how much fun it had been and even though no chicken had ever suffered anything but surprise.
Occasionally, when she went into the hen house, there would be a harmless bull snake slithering across the floor looking for eggs to eat or even in the nests where the hens laid their eggs. The nests were fastened to the wall and off of the floor but the snakes could get into them anyway. Dad always said they were good snakes because they helped keep the mice away, but they were no friend to Nina – no way! She always ran away from the hen house in search of someone bigger than herself who would take the snake out of the hen house and relocate it to the garden or nearby field.
On this particular day, Nina casually opened the door to the hen house and was paying more attention to the last bite of her Popsicle than to what was lurking in the nests. She walked up to the first nest, casually put the Popsicle stick into her back jeans pocket, then put her hand in to gently pick up the three eggs and place them carefully in the basket. Mom didn’t appreciate broken or even cracked eggs because she had dropped them into the basket too hard. What she saw next took her breath away. If the snakes had made her turn tail and run in the other direction, this was even worse! Looking at her with black, beady eyes was an all-too-familiar black critter with a white stripe down its back. Nina dropped the basket, breaking the three eggs already in it, and ran as fast as she could to get away from the skunk. The eggs would have to wait until this guest moved on.
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