Gracie was as happy as she thought she could ever be. “CheeP!” was her new favorite word.
She had not been separated from her best friend Bessie when they left The Feed And Seed Store. She had as much water and food as she wanted in the gray brooder box even though she usually had to wait for the others to finish first.
Most of all, she had time in the sunroom with Bessie to do whatever her heart desired. And what her heart desired was to dance.
Her feathers were coming in nicely and more evenly. Her new fluff feathers helped hide the lump on her side. The only thing that felt odd was how everyone seemed to be growing, and not only that, they were growing faster than she was. She was the only one without the first pale pink bumps of a comb.
She wondered if it would be possible for everything and everyone to just stay the same. But few things ever stay the same, no matter how much we may wish.
Soon they were big enough and the spring air was warm enough for them to all play outside together. Their new play area was in the sunniest section of the backyard near the garden beds and beside the camellias.
If a little chick is ever to quiver with excitement, it will be the first time they stand on a fresh springtime lawn. Then they realize, “This is almost too good to be true. This is the life for me!”
Instantly, their entire world is alive with new colors, sounds, and sensations. Once outside, they all began calling out, “CheeP! CheeP-er-ee. CheeP!”
Gracie was overcome by the experience, and she began to run and leap into the air higher and higher. There was warm sunshine to enjoy. There was cool fresh grass to eat. And there were bugs and earthworms everywhere!
Soon everyone was hunting for a tasty snack except for Gracie who was still running and leaping. She loved how the spring breezes blew through her feathers and how the grass was so soft for landing after each leap. The rug in the sunroom had been nice, but lawn was far superior.
The others didn’t stop scratching and pecking until they found a bug or an earthworm or to say, “CheeP!” Maybe it was just the joy of watching them, but each time my ears heard “CheeP!” something in my heart heard, “This is the life for me!”
But then one of the other chicks looked up and saw Gracie dancing and called out, “Hã-BröcK!”
Everyone looked at Gracie. Some laughed. Some repeated, “Hã-BröcK!”
My ears did not recognize this new word, but my heart felt the pain of whatever it meant as Gracie tried to hide her face. I watched as she went and sat down in a corner out of the way.
“Let’s get back to hunting,” said Bessie, and that sounded like a good idea to all the others.
When they had returned to their scratching and pecking, Gracie moved out of the shadows to where I was watching over everyone. She hopped up onto my shoe as she had done before in the sunroom.
“Peep! CheeP!” she said.
She stood on her little toes and spread out her wings even more than she had done before in the sunroom.
“Of course you can, just like you could in the sunroom with Bessie. It’s no different out here. Here you can do whatever your heart dreams too.”
She hopped down and walked away slowly with a dejected look on her face. She went over to where Bessie and some of the others were hunting and began to half-heartedly scratch the ground.
At that moment, I wished more than anything to know what she had tried to tell me. I needed to know why she did not run and leap for joy like when I had said those same words to her before. If I could understand, then maybe I could make it right for her.
If my heart had been able to fully listen, I would have known this was something only Gracie could make right for herself.
I would have also understood Bessie when she gently whispered, “What you believe about yourself is much more important than what anyone else believes about you.”
My heart was beginning to listen, but there was still more for me to learn about the Chicken language.
There was also more for Gracie to learn about facing The Bigger Scary Thing.