i killed one of my beloved chickens last week.
at 8 pm, i went outside to lock them up in their coop for the night. i closed the guillotine-style door, moved three hens from the hutch to the roosting bars in the coop so they wouldn’t shit where they lay eggs, and closed and latched the hutch lid. all secure, all done.
i went to bed. at 12:30 am, jenn woke me up and said she thought something just attacked the chickens. she said she heard a bunch of thumping and a loud “squawk.” i thought, “i locked it all up so she must be mistaken,” but i went outside to check anyway. when i got to the pen, there was winnie, my last silver-laced wyandotte: writhing, gasping for breath, and now faceless. even her beak appeared to be ripped off but it was hard to tell exactly what was left beneath the gore.
i looked over at the coop, and there was the guillotine door, still wide open.
i stood on winnie’s neck until she stopped struggling. i wanted to puke. i let our dog bark at the raccoons that were now up a tree — too little, too late, of course. i stared at the guillotine door and my mind reeled. i was absolutely positive up until the moment i saw it open that i had closed it that night. if someone had offered to make me a $100 bet on it, i would have taken it without hesitation. but clearly, i hadn’t closed it, and somehow my mind convinced itself that i had — it created a false memory. i found that terrifying. what other false memories do i have? what else do i think has happened but actually hasn’t? what if all of my memories aren’t real and my whole life actually never occurred? on top of the loss of one of my dear hens, i began tumbling down a paranoid, conspiracy-theory laden path usually reserved for acid heads. what a night.
it just goes to show why eyewitness testimony is not considered very reliable in court these days. our memories are capable of being completely incorrect while we remain utterly convinced of their veracity.
RIP winnie. you were a lovely hen.