Domino

by Justin Liu, age 13
Domino Justin Lu is 13 years old and he is in 8th grade. He enjoys writing humor, taking photographs and loves the beach. Justin's connection with the ocean dates back to his birth in California, where he chased scary waves of H20 and salt. He lives in a family of 6 with two crazy siblings, his mom and dad, and his grandma. As the oldest child, Justin is able to see the humor in his everyday life, often gaining inspiration from his little brother. He currently lives in Ardsley, NY and is wondering when pizza is for dinner.

“But there is one thing that brings back a flood of joy, sadness and all of the other feelings from the movie Inside Out: a doormat of a chicken.”

Objects are triggers that fire guns down memory lane and into our hearts, reminding us who we are and why we are here today. Most people look at an old watch or an elegant necklace owned by an ancestor and weep with melancholy. Others will look at pictures of their childhood, still innocent of the evils in the world, and feel the happiness surge through their body. What would I do with these priceless objects? Find out if they are worth anything and sell them to my sister to make a profit. I don’t have many things that trigger vivid memories of a war scene or childhood; maybe a few stuffed animals that piece together parts of my earlier years. But there is one thing that brings back a flood of joy, sadness and all of the other feelings from the movie Inside Out: a doormat of a chicken. The bold colors on the feathers of red, yellow and blue are slowly fading due to dirty shoes, stains from drinks and age. But every time I leave the house, the doormat picture of a calm chicken reminds me of a pet chicken named Domino. Like falling dominoes, she tumbled her way into my heart and pushed me through a wild adventure.

It was the end of another Northeastern winter with Jack Frost taking a summer break from his annoying position to bite my nose. The spring of 2013 was cold, not as cold as this year’s winter, but enough to keep my parents complaining about moving somewhere warmer.

However, an unexpected guest warmed our hearts: Domino. She was a small ball of fluff, arriving at our doorstep in a cardboard box. A month before Domino’s arrival, my best friend Jonathan went to a chick festival. At the celebration, farmers gave out spring chicks while bundled up in down jackets. Jonathan waited in line with 50 degree weather and received ten chirping babies, ready to explore their new world.

But the new world welcomed baby chicks’ harshly with cold temperatures and voracious predators. After two weeks, four chicks died to the cold. However, Jonathan was happy with six adorable chicks running around their pen. Coincidentally, I was having a sleepover when another five chicks died. It was 7:00 a.m. and Jonathan and I woke up to the sound of shrieking squawks.This alarmed Jonathan as he went to wake up his grumpy dad, who wondered if whatever happened was more important than his beauty sleep.

However, the moment Jonathan’s dad saw the chick pen, he knew he could sacrifice his beauty sleep for more wrinkles and gray hairs. Some fox had discovered a surplus of yellow protein snacks, leaving a pile of blood in Jonathan’s chick pen. The fox must have been hungry because four chicks were missing. In addition, another chick tried to escape under a crack of the house, but suffocated himself in the process. So, if the human race knows how to subtract, they’d know that there was only one chick left: Domino.

The chick pen’s puddles of blood and stench of death signaled for Jonathan’s parents to make a decision. It was a rather quiet breakfast as everyone felt remorse for the dead chicks.

Jonathan and I were chewing on our pancakes while Jonathan’s parents were thinking about their options for Domino. But before they considered making the chicken a dish on the dinner table, I said something that would change my life forever. “Can Domino stay at my house?”

So Jonathan and his parents decided it would be better for his chick to stay at my house. Usually, my parents would forbid any other animal other than my family to live on our property. But Domino was the exception; she brought poop and nostalgia to our backyard. My Dad and my Grandma remembered living in China with crazy chickens running across the village, and they thought they could handle one more. Back then, my Grandma and Dad lived in a poor village and there were no chicken coops being built. Domino still ended up driving my dad crazy; he pecked at the new lawn seeds my dad planted. No wonder our lawn had patches of dirt that summer. However, it was my sister and I who took care of Domino, so my parents weren’t the ones getting gray hairs from chicken poop or clawed grass.

My sister, Joyce, fell in love with Domino the moment she saw the tiny creature. At the time, she was 8 and any pet, no matter how weird, was the best present ever. Every day, Joyce would take Domino out of his “pen” (a fence) and allow him to run around in the yard. She would give Domino food when he was hungry and listened to my Grandma’s instructions on how to take care of chickens. All of that time paid off, and after two weeks, Domino liked my sister the best. I was extremely jealous, because my siblings and I would always fight over favorites. But I couldn’t do anything about it because if I tried to pick up Domino, she would squawk, try to fly away and claw me. After one month, Domino was becoming a big chicken. And just as parents talk about their children, my sister remembers Domino as a fast growing animal. “They grow up too fast!” my sister would say.

Despite being a chicken, Domino is extremely smart. She knows who is who and forbids anyone from picking her up besides my sister.

When my sister comes home, she runs towards her and squawks happily. And when I approach Domino, she gets extremely defensive unless I have food in my hand. But Domino was getting older and roaming farther afield and she needed a safer place to stay. My Grandma was going to stay with my cousins’ for a while and she could keep an eye on him. It was safer at my cousins house because they didn’t have a forest surrounding their home, so there was no chance of a fox prowling around for a snack.

After two months at my cousins’ house, Domino came back home. My sister was overjoyed, but not for long. After a few days of setting up Domino’s home, the chicken died. The problem was we put him near the fans outside the house that control the air conditioning. So when we turned on the thermostat, the fans outside made a loud noise, and Domino was frightened. She panicked too much and stuck her head through the fence, choking herself to death. My sister saw what happened and was trying to get our attention, but none of us were listening. After 20 minutes of screaming, my sister dragged my grandma outside to see what was happening. It was too late. Domino was gone.

That day was one of the saddest days for my sister. Being eight years old, the death of a pet closer than a dog was heartbreaking. She cried non-stop during the burial of Domino and the remembrance of the best chicken ever. She was our Domino, the only pet chicken in the county. The worst part was that the day Domino died was the day she was about to lay her first egg.

In my lifetime, I’ve always had problems with pets. From smelly hamsters to boring fish, my history of pets have always ended badly. But Domino was different. Domino became a special part of our family, using her feet to dig into our hearts. To this day, we have a placemat at our door of a chicken. For Domino.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.