The first feather was a surprise. She got her tweezers and it came out easily. Her glasses were new- varivocal - and she squinted at this delicate intruder on her finger. Maybe it had just transferred to her chin when she had collected the eggs that morning. She laughed at herself, yet the little sting in her skin remained. Something had been extracted, and there was no hair to be seen.
Each morning, more feathers. Finding them began to replace her previous obsessive fingertip probing for the hard shaft of any rogue hair. She had been so upset when the first dark line had interrupted the soft smooth profile of her face, memories of childhood and the bristly chins of elderly female relatives filling her with dread.
The feathers coming were different. It was somehow soothing to discover tiny brown ones under the brow line, longer glossy ones under her arms and on her thighs. She covered them with clothes, but there was no one to notice anyway. Her waist expanded, yet she found herself clucking contentedly to herself as she pottered around the garden. The hens ran across the yard to greet her, always pleased to see her, always interested in her news. They snoozed under bushes, gave themselves dust baths, stretched out their wings in the sun. Called to her.
‘I’m marrying again. Come and meet the old gang. Hen party this Sunday.’
She mailed a card. ‘Sorry. Can’t come. Going to one already this weekend.’