I was only two years old.
My dad found me and took me home. How he knew I was across the street and in the laundry room in the back of the Barksdale home, I don't know. I was so shaken, all I could do was sob. Plus my mashed fingers hurt like a son of a bitch.
When I was a little older--maybe four or five--the kid next door passed his pet chicken over the fence so that I could hold it. His name was John (the boy, not the chicken) and he was eleven. He seemed like a teenager to me.
I'd never held a chicken before and was so excited to have the chance. The chicken was excited, too. Oops! Make that EXCITABLE. It flapped its wings in my face and startled me into dropping it. It hit the ground running. My German Shepherd then became very excited and chased Mr. Chicken down.
You can probably guess what happened next.
My dog killed that chicken. Ripped it apart.
It all happened so fast. One minute I was holding a super cool pet chicken and the next it was nothing but blood, guts, and feathers strewn across the backyard.
But you know what the worst part was?
I ran inside to tell my mom what had happened. She told me to go clean it up. Didn't come outside. Didn't say anything to the neighbor kid. Didn't console me. Just "Go clean it up."
So there I was, four-years old, trying to clean up chicken innards and feeling like the whole thing had been my fault. It was distressing to see a chicken's HEART (I had no idea it would look like a red ping pong ball.) But really, in my defense, the kid next door should never have passed his pet chicken over the fence to a preschooler with a big dog in the yard. I'm sorry, but that's just a no brainer in my book when you're eleven.
And to top it off, the rest of the "big kids" on the street badgered me about killing John's chicken for weeks afterward. "Why did you let your dog kill John's chicken," they'd say.
My older self would have snarked back, "Hey, how about a little personal responsibility, people?"
But my four-year old self just stuttered some lame reply.
My next childhood trauma would also involve a bird, but this time it would be a much bigger bird--an ostrich.