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"The Dead Parts" by Margo Griffin

Discovering that most supermarket, free-range turkeys primarily congregate in overcrowded, dirty sheds, Evie bought herself a free-range bird from a local organic turkey farmer, who she believed provided her turkey with a few good daily meals and a hygienic semi-private coop.

After mentally patting herself on the back for a more humane purchase, Evie moved her turkey to her kitchen sink. The bird’s featherless body, covered in pink pimply skin, filled up the entire basin. As she opened the wrapping, Evie smelled raw turkey, and she started to gag. Stored in the turkey’s cavity were its neck and giblets, wrapped up in a disturbing-looking parchment package that she struggled to yank out. Finding all of the dead parts nauseating, Evie felt the acid churning in her stomach, rising up into her throat.

Evie quickly pulled herself together and moved the turkey to the countertop, where she began the process of dominating its headless body, tying together its lifeless legs and tucking back its wings. She grew increasingly hysterical from the sadistic nature of her task as she molested the bird further, stuffing crumbled bread, sausage, sage, and mushroom through what was once its ass and up into its throat. Finally, the job completed, Evie got quiet as she stared at her turkey display, trying to recall how she had ended up wrestling this bird in her kitchen. But then she reminded herself, her mother had traveled across the country to visit her sick, elderly aunt. So, it was up to Evie to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for her dying father.

Evie assumed the local organic farmer provided a balanced diet of high-quality feed, full of protein and nutrients to ensure his turkeys were healthy. But, up until this moment, Evie never considered that the farmer’s delicate treatment of his flock was intended solely for high-end consumption.

Evie wondered if the farmer succumbed to industry pressure and debeaked this turkey, a barbaric attempt at decreasing acts of cannibalism among his feathered gang. But Evie guessed that bit of irony was lost on the farmer as he held her bird upside down by its wiry legs, waiting for blood to flow to its head, leaving the turkey weak and defenseless, ready for the farmer’s chopping block.

Finally, Evie speculated whether or not the farmer experienced regret as he stared into this turkey’s tiny black pupils, knowingly selecting him for her table. Probably not, Evie thought sadly and then felt a slight pang of shame bubbling up as she continued her preparations for what might be her ailing father’s last Thanksgiving dinner.

The smell of death surrounded her, and Evie began feeling queasy. But then, thinking of her father in the next room, whose cancer had insidiously spread, Evie took a deep breath and began vigorously rubbing butter all over the body of her bird, ensuring a tasty, crispy coat.

Finished, Evie placed her fully dressed bird into the oven and closed the door. And soon after, she walked into the living room and took her father’s hand, helping him into the bathroom. Evie’s mother had left her with clear instructions and ample supplies for her to help her weakening father complete his business. After returning from the bathroom, Evie and her father sat quietly in the living room, watching football while they awaited their bird slowly roasting in the nearby room.

The doctor said it could be months, perhaps a year; there was no way to know for sure. Evie’s father, once a round-bellied, broad-shouldered man with a loud voice who was always ready for a laugh, was now but a shell of his former self. Cancer pecked away at him, slowly eating away little pieces of his mind and body until eventually there would be nothing left of him but hanging flesh and bones.

Evie’s mouth watered as the smell of roasted turkey filled up the room; her earlier repulsion and nausea were suddenly forgotten. Evie’s father still managed small meals, but only if the food was cut up into little pieces and the texture soft for chewing. So, Evie lovingly prepared her father two side dishes, consisting of mashed potatoes and a sweet yam casserole. And then, thinking of the dead parts around her, Evie made a mental note to slow boil the picked apart turkey carcass after dinner for her father’s soup.

Margo Griffin is a Boston, MA area public school educator and has worked in urban education for over thirty years. She is the mother of two amazing daughters and to the love of her life and best rescue dog ever, Harley.

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