HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for The Brutal Issue – sadly, too many to fit inside the magazine! So we offered some of our shortlisted contributors the chance to be published on our website.
Keep an eye on our social media for more great writing like this, in the run up to the release of The Brutal Issue…
In the wooden porch at the back of the house, a chicken was hanging by its feet. It was still twitching and the wings were flapping. Blood was dripping down from end of the beak. I had watched while the farmer who delivered the chicken hung it up from the porch roof with a piece of string and cut the chicken’s throat with a rusty knife. The blood was making a small pool on the wooden floor. The farmer often called at our house in Church Lane with produce – tomatoes, eggs and potatoes. This time it was a chicken.
Sometimes my mother took me along the rough path over the fields to call in at the farm. I think she liked the farmer, sometimes we stayed for an hour or two. I used to get bored waiting for my mother who was doing something with the farmer in another room in the farmhouse. She always said that she was helping the farmer milk the cows, and then they both laughed.
While the chicken was bleeding to death, Molly our little terrier dog came to the porch, barked at the chicken flapping its wings and licked up the blood. Molly was my constant companion. When she didn’t want to play I would pull her out from her hiding place under the sideboard and we would have play fights crawling around on the carpet. She was usually muddy and smelly but the house was dusty and not very clean so I didn’t mind. Sometimes I was too rough with the dog and it would yelp and try to run away. Then my mother would come in from the kitchen and shout at me and smack my bare bottom hard. She loved the dog and she would say don’t ever do that again, but I always did.
My bed was really a cot in the small space at the top of the stairs. My father had made it from some planks of wood nailed to the side of the staircase. There was a mattress and a blanket. Sometimes Molly tried to sleep there and I had to pull her out to get into the cot.
On my third birthday the Brown family who were the neighbours from the house next-door came round with some presents. A comb, a picture book and plastic sphere with a little village and some trees inside. It made snow when it was turned upside down. I didn’t think much of the presents but I don’t remember having any other toys. The Brown family had a motorbike with a side car and they were the first family in the road with a television. We went in to watch the coronation of the queen in 1953 but I did a wee in the fireplace and then I had to go home.
Apart from the walk to the farm, the only regular trip with my mother was to the clinic at the church hall. The hall was a large room with chairs around the side and a curtained-off area at the far end. The sound of babies crying came from there and I could also hear the voices of doctors and nurses trying to calm the babies down. I wanted to know what was happening behind the curtain and why the babies were crying. I can’t remember what the doctors and nurses did to me. Maybe I was too young to remember.
Later on, I asked my mother what they did to me and she just said it was the usual thing to do with boys. I must have looked puzzled about that and my father said that it something doctors had to do and he smiled. Some things stay with you for a long time.
We moved to another house a few months later and that’s about all remember. The chicken flapping its wings and slowly dying and the babies crying in the Church Hall. I guess I must have cried too.
Editor’s note: no writer’s bio supplied at time of publication.