Speckled. Multi-colored. Left in grass. Balanced on eaves. Another, always just in your peripheral vision. It was unsurprising that the children thought it was an Easter egg hunt, even though it was two weeks too late, and the eggs were, well, big. There were a range of sizes, but even the smallest were too big to contain a chicken, or if they did, a chicken so large as to be monstrous. Maybe more monstrous than what the egg actually contained? Just as anything miniaturized becomes cute, anything bigger than it should be strikes the mind and eye as wrong.
Some kids began to gather them. Too big for baskets, they stacked them like cairns in the backyard. More active parents, stopped their children before they even began. They called Animal Control. They listened to hold music, temporarily interrupted with tips on avoiding rabies, touting the Animal Control website, which in truth was still under construction since 2001. A clever gutter cleaning service quickly rebranded themselves as egg hunters, and became the town’s go-to.
But we wondered, what was inside? Leaving eggs everywhere, some hidden, many in plain sight seemed a strange strategy. I wanted to know more. So, while neighbors eagerly had their eggs removed, mine stayed put. I called Dr. Penny, a nickname she’d had even before she became a doctor. Back when we were undergrads, and she was the serious one. She’d been dating a friend, but after they broke up, Penny was the friend, and Flora was just a person I used to know.
“Ridiculous, of me to think that as a zoologist, I could date a woman named Flora,” Penny said more than once. “I pray, I never meet a woman named Fauna.”
She arrived just in time. A neighborhood organization that I hadn’t known existed were trying to force me to remove the eggs. They thought they were a possible menace, or detrimental to property values. But Dr. Penny arrived, placing official looking tape around my property, and a sign that read to not to disturb the site, per order of Dr. Penelope Landis.
“I’m deputizing you as my field assistant,” she said to me, “We’re going to be famous. Well, zoologist famous, which is actually not great. But conservatives on the internet are going to hate us, whatever we discover.”
We catalogued all the eggs on my property. Took pictures of them. Measured them with calipers without disturbing them. She’d tap on the shell, listen to them with a stethoscope. When there was nothing to do but wait, she had me draw them, recreating the patterns. Speckled. Sunset. Cow spots.
“Is this busy work?” I asked.
“Do you want to be idle?”
We’d drink cocktails in the evenings, and she’d tell me about all the girlfriends she’d had since college. The stories she didn’t share on Facebook because they were too embarrassing to share with coworkers and high school acquaintances, but made me miss her retroactively. I wished we were still best friends, even though we’d never have called each other best friends in the first place.
We were on our first pot of coffee when we heard the first egg crack open. It was so loud, we heard it from inside. We rushed to the backyard, to see a chick over a foot long, it’s blue feathers still plastered down.
“It’s beautiful,” she said.
The next egg contained a horned lizard. Another had something like an armadillo. One was just filled with chocolate, cracking on its own, and just spilling out everywhere. Another held another egg, and then another. One, to Dr. Penny’s dismay, was filled with flowers.
Neighbors were crowding around the edges of my property, just for a glimpse, taking pictures with their phones. For years after, people would claim the whole thing was a hoax. Sometimes, it makes me mad, but whenever I hear that first bird singing from her nest, I don’t really mind.