We used to like to play in the nearby farmyard. We would run and hide in the sheds and outbuildings, jumping out from behind derelict equipment, climbing in and out of rusty machinery, evading sharp edges and hidden pitfalls.
Sometimes we’d go to the barn where the hay was stacked. We’d burrow into it, making nests and dens. Wayward hens often bedded there to lay unfertilised eggs in the scratchy heat. They would eventually abandon them when they didn’t bear fruit .
We’d find these eggs, weigh their brown, oval perfection in our childish hands, gently pile them up, and when we had plenty, we’d throw them against the fence, smashing the shells, and watching their innards splat.
Sometimes the yokes were golden and fresh, and we would be guiltily disappointed at the waste.
We were watching for the ones which were dirty green.
We stood well back so the stench wouldn’t hit us.
When you look at the shell of an egg, you can’t tell whether it is healthy or rotten.
I couldn’t tell by looking at my son,
until he smashed himself against the wall.
© Jane Paterson Basil