When she woke up the next morning Leanne decided not to use surveys. They would always be traced back to her and she wasn’t up to another shouting-at from her father. She went back to trying to make casual conversation with the workers at Bright Star.

“Did you know twenty-three million male chicks are slaughtered every year in South Africa? They’re usually only a few days old at the time of the death. It’s done because they’re considered not to be commercially viable. They are gassed or ground in rotating machines.”

When Leanne talked about the cruelty to chickens most of the workers moved away. “That’s Toppie’s girl,” most of them said. Others sucked their teeth in irritation.

“Why does it matter?”

Deidre had heard about Leanne and her surveys. Everyone in the neighbourhood had – it was a joke. “They’re laughing at you, you know?” Deirdre told Leanne. Leanne shrugged.

“Well, why does it matter?” Deirdre went on. “Aren’t there more people to save than chickens?”

“It’s not about the chickens. Not really,” Leanne said.

“Then what?”

“It’s about us, human beings. How we treat chickens isn’t about whether we like animals or not. It’s about having power and doing the right thing with it.”

“And what is the right thing?”

“I don’t know. I don’t have the answers Deirdre. I’m just asking questions now.”

Leanne felt older. She felt the wind on her cheeks and it felt a way it had never before. A woman in high heels walked past and put money in the telephone box, dialled numbers, and then the muffled speech of half a conversation.

“You going to the jazz dance contest, to watch?”

“No,” Deirdre replied, sounded irritated. “I won’t be around, remember?”

“Do you think you’re doing the right thing? I mean, have you thought about it? I’m just asking because…um… we have to live with ourselves. With all the choices we make.”

“Yes. I don’t have the money to take care of a baby. What will I do with it? I don’t think that’s fair.”

The woman finished talking on the phone and walked back towards the nearby houses. “Maybe I’ll have a child one day.” Deirdre then smiled at Leanne, and swatted her on the shoulder saying, “Hope she’s clever like you Leanne. Helps chickens and things like that.’ They laughed.


Tell us what you think: Is Deirdre doing the right thing?