Happy Easter

Shutterstock / Tim UR © hen on nest

It will take more than an egg hunt to get Fiona and her broody hen Mildred in a flap…

Fiona ducked her head as she entered the hen house.

It was time to hide Easter eggs for Christian. She knelt down on the straw bedding.

Her brown hen, Mildred, was sitting on real eggs. Her expression very clearly said Do Not Disturb.

Her proprietorial air amused Fiona, as Mildred was sitting on eggs laid by the silkies. Beside her, the other nesting box was empty.

Three white silkies and the black Orpington were outside, fighting over sunflower seeds.

Fiona nestled four small chocolate eggs on the straw.

She opened the gate into the garden to allow the chickens to range freely. She didn’t want Christian’s eggs to get roosted on like last year. The chickens always seemed to get clucky in springtime.

And it wasn’t just the chickens affected by the season…

As a tall, lanky figure came into view above the fence, Fiona couldn’t help looking at her new neighbour two doors down. Was he organising an egg hunt too? He had a little girl about Christian’s age.

Fiona hadn’t really talked to him properly yet. But he waved as he went past and had smiled when they’d noticed each other queuing at the supermarket last week.

All Fiona knew was that his name was Max. And he was the nicest man she’d ever almost met.

She was biding her time, unsure if her feelings were reciprocated.

She’d never believed in love at first sight. Not until Max smiled at her. There was something genuine and disarming about him that caused her heart to give a hopeful flutter.

That afternoon after his rest, Christian rushed up to her.

“Is it time for the Easter egg hunt?”

“Snack time first.” Fiona wanted him to eat something healthy before he had a sugar hit with the chocolate.

They were in the kitchen eating rice crackers and hummus when there was a knock on the door.

Puzzled, Fiona padded down the hall, Christian following.

And there he was. Looking apologetic. A little girl in his arms. Her eyes were wet with tears, her bottom lip quivering.

“Sorry to intrude on your Easter. I don’t suppose you’ve seen a white kitten?”

“Sorry, no. Have you lost yours?”

He nodded. “Fiona, isn’t it?” he said, offering a hand. “She’s a fluffy little thing. A ragdoll.

“We haven’t seen her since breakfast time. Penelope’s starting to fret.”

“White and fluffy? That sounds like my chickens. I’ve got silkies,” she added as he looked puzzled. “How old is your kitten?”

“Duchess is about three months.”

“I really hope you find her,” Fiona said.

She watched as he walked away.

Christian pulled her hand.

“What about our Easter egg hunt, Mum?”

They went into the backyard. The chickens were scratching about in the vegetable patch.

Fiona tried not to notice they’d dug up the parsley seedlings she’d planted yesterday. And there were a few daffodils on the path.

She sat on the sun lounger, watching as Christian ran about the garden, looking under the lavender bush, checking in the outhouse, and even peering into the compost bin.

“I give up,” he said. “I can’t find them.”

“That means I can eat the eggs,” Fiona said.

“No! I’ll find them. Give me a clue, Mum,” he said. “Please.” His head was slightly tilted to one side, his blue eyes pleading.

“Where do we normally look for eggs?” she said, relenting.

He gave a radiant smile and ran straight to the hen house. She smiled as she heard him yell, “Look what I’ve found in the nesting box!”

She expected to see him holding the eggs. But in his hands was something white and fluffy.

Had one of the silkies’ eggs hatched already?

She’d lost track of how many days Mildred had been sitting on them.

He walked over and opened his hands. The kitten had deep blue eyes, a brown face and the fluffiest white fur Fiona had ever seen. This could only be Duchess.

“We’ll take her back to her home,” Fiona said. “Won’t Penelope be happy?”

Her heart lifted as they walked down the street to Max’s house.

The front door was open. Penelope ran down the hall shrieking when she saw the kitten. Max followed to see what was going on.

“Happy Easter,” Fiona said, carefully transferring Duchess into his hands.

His face lit up. “What a relief! I can’t thank you enough.”

“It was Christian who found her,” she said. “He was looking for Easter eggs in the chicken coop.”

“Maybe he’d like to join Penelope for our Easter egg hunt?” Max said. “We’ve been too busy looking for Duchess.”

As they followed the children outside, his eyes met hers with a disarming smile.

“I’ve been looking for an excuse to ask you out to dinner,” he said. “Maybe you’ve just given me one…”

Our My Weekly Favourites series of feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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