Tyco was still looking for Matilda when he ran into Nick, his neighbor on the right. They had discovered her missing when his spouse, Jamison Lee, had gone out to do an accounting. The neighbor in the back was replacing the fence and Jamison Lee had suddenly felt like he needed to go count all the chickens. They had only recently been introduced to the outside as they weren’t even 8 weeks old yet, so he was fretful. One, two, three, four, and then no Matilda he discovered. They had been looking for her ever since, he explained to Nick with guilt. Jamison Lee had wanted to keep them cooped up all day. Tyco had insisted they would be fine.
“I haven’t seen her, but do you need any help looking?” Nick asked. Tyco could see Nick was dressed to go out and so declined. “I’m sure once the sun sets we’ll find her in the coop with the rest of the girls,” he assured the neighbor.
But, when twilight came Matilda was not with the rest of the hens. With 20 or so minutes left of light they posted a notice on the Next Door app and went to scour the neighborhood. As they circled the block they noticed the back neighbor’s gate was open to allow for the removal of the fencing. Tyco had a sick feeling as he realized he hadn’t thought of that as a possible escape route. He had been so sure she was hiding somewhere in the backyard.
“Did you find her” their neighbor asked spotting them coming down the street.
“No”, Jamison Lee responded, “but we’re not worried about your dog. If he had got her there would be feathers everywhere.” The neighbor had sworn that he hadn’t seen any chickens while he was replacing the fence and then as the day progressed he had confessed that his dog had gotten out and chased them a little before he could get him back in the house. For a moment Tyco had been disappointed that Jamison Lee hadn’t made the back neighbor sweat a little more before letting him off the hook.
They circled back to their house and were in their driveway when they noticed that they had two responses to their post. Someone had seen their chicken in a driveway on their street 20 minutes ago. The second post was the same person saying they just noticed the driveway he had seen the chicken on was their driveway.
Tyco realized that the dog must have scared the chicken so bad that she flew over the front fence on the side of the house that separated the open front yard from the back. With the sun down he knew there was no point in looking for Matilda any more that night. If she were still alive, she would have roosted by now. He went to bed heart sickened wishing he had thought to look harder in the front yard.
On his way to the car to go to work the next morning, he could barely contain his hope as he looked around the yard for his wayward chicken. Then, as if by a miracle, he saw her sitting on the low slung rustic farm fencing separating the driveway from the neighbors on the left.
Matilda looked at him and he could almost hear her saying almost solumnly “I’ve made it on my own the whole night”, “I’m ready to leave you now”, “I’m grown”. Without thinking, and before he could give her a chance to flee, Tyco walked over to the fence and snatched her up with both hands.
She squawked and flapped as if screaming “No! I’m free now! You have no right!” Tyco gently but firmly removed his hair from her beak and walked her through the house to the back yard. “Those aren’t worms Matilda” he said firmly releasing her to join her sisters. It was time to clip their wings.