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  • Grandpa stretched the chicken's neck across the flat top of his backyard stump. In a fluid move as practiced as a magician, he chopped in one stroke with his hatchet and freed the old hen's body from her head.

    The chicken's body flopped and flailed across the yard in a horrifying dance of death. A gruesome spurt of blood sprayed across the dew-damp grass.

    I screamed and ran to the safety of Grandma's arms. I pressed my face into her soft cotton apron and inhaled the comforting aroma of talcum powder.

    "Look now, Cookie, it's okay, the bird is dead and still."

    When I looked up, I saw Grandpa rinse his hands in the spurt of water from the red iron pump just outside the kitchen door.

    "You can help me with the plucking," Grandma said.

    I squared my bony little shoulders and marched behind her into the kitchen.
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