The realisation she was turning into a chicken, or rather a Mille Fleur bantam, came as no great surprise to me. I knew something was different within weeks of completing the hen house and taking delivery of four rescue chickens. Kate stopped watching daytime television and spent her time in the fenced run talking to her birds. By the end of the month, she declared herself a vegetarian and wore a floppy red beret around the house. I humored her. After all, she seemed a lot happier since the birds arrived.
One night, after spending the evening down in the workshop, I came back up to find the place in darkness. Kate was nowhere to be seen. I checked the bathroom and the bedroom but nothing. Through the bedroom window, I noticed a slice of light from under the hen house door. I pulled on my wellington boots, took a flashlight from the cupboard and went out to investigate.
Through the window at the front of the coop, I could see the Barred Rock and the Aracuna asleep on the top perch. The two Easter Eggers, the mongrels of the bunch, sat on the roost below, their backs turned to the glass. I tugged the door open. It had warped in the week’s continual rain.
“Bock, bock,” Kate said.
She was squatting naked in the corner of the coop, her elbows held close to her sides, fingers meshed across her breasts. She wore her red felt hat and yellow nail varnish on her toes and fingernails.
“Bock,” she repeated, turning her head to one side.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I asked.
“Rowwwwkkkkk,” she crowed, shuffling from foot to foot.
I grabbed her by the arm, and the Barred Rock jumped down into the litter. She pecked at my boot and flapped her wings. The other birds shuffled along their perches towards me. I backed off and decided to leave Kate to it. I’d given up trying to make sense of her decisions. Reckoned she wanted to experience life from all realities. I went back up to the house and went to bed.
I woke at three o’clock the following morning to find Kate perched on the foot of our cherry sleigh bed. She was still naked and wore the hat pulled down to one side. She told me she wanted to live as a hen, that she was a bantam trapped in a woman’s body. She reckoned through the power of prayer and visualisation, she could realise her dream of becoming a Mille Fleur. Not a rooster, of course. Even my wife realised sheer determination couldn’t pull that one off. And it seems to be working. Kate’s never had the smoothest skin, but her shins are scalier than ever. There’s no feathers yet, but her nose has a horny sheen.
And speaking of horny, our sex life has taken on a whole new spin. Kate, the Mille Fleur, wants me, her rooster, to shag her whenever and however the mood takes me. You see, she can’t say no. She watches me from her roost on the bedhead and puts her head to one side. When I touch her, she backs away against the curtains and flaps her arms. But I know Kate. When she says “Bock, Bock” like that, I know she really means yes.