Actually, my mother used the term “fighting feathers” when she was upset but couldn’t put her finger on precisely why. I imagine many people have been in a similar state, not comprehending exactly the reason why they feel out of sorts but knowing something isn’t quite right. This morning’s fictional writing exercise plays with this notion.
“I don’t know what’s gotten into me,” Jena’s Aunt Grace used to say, “but I feel like I could fight a feather.”
Jena never quite understood her sweet auntie’s thinking until later, when she was an adult herself and endured the pressures of a demanding job that forced her to write a column for the local newspaper every day even when her mind was a blank. Fortunately politics, personal freedoms, and environmental issues provided fodder to that end and saved the day more than a few times.
Besides her profession, Jena tolerated her husband, Craig, who was a hopeless perfectionist and eight-year-old twins who were the complete opposite. The boys’ messes made for more than a few, heated conversations between Craig and Jena whose own bent for neatness lay somewhere in the middle. Being the ideal dad to which he aspired, Craig never hounded the twins to do any cleanup, or any chores, for that matter. That was Jena’s role.
“Jena, do something about them,” he’d goad. “This place is a pig sty.” Then to his sons he’d yell, “Come on boys. Game time. Let’s go!”
Leaving Jena home, the three would pile into Craig’s immaculate BMW X5 and head for the local, sports complex or better yet, to a Giants game in San Francisco. They were pals, and Jena had her place.
It was no wonder that Jena finally understood her auntie’s occasional consternation. Grace too had been left to pick up the pieces in a household that mirrored Jena’s to the extent that poor Grace had been shoved to the side by a husband hell bent on teaching their three boys the most important thing in his universe -- how to hunt.
Unable, or unwilling to fault the men for doting on their children, both Jena and Grace stayed silent, but therein lay the problem. Untenable frustration blew in like the wind, bringing with it those illusive feathers that floated in an around, just out of reach.