Buying the Farm
by Arlaina Tibensky
Issue #44 • July 18, 2016•Buy Now!
My mother is making an omelet again. She has a special hammer. There is a feather sticking to her bare heel. One egg can feed my family for one week straight, but not me. No way am I gonna shovel forkfuls of ostrich embryo in my mouth. They are nothing but stupid, dirty chickens from hell.
My father, the entrepreneur, plucked us from our green, suburban home in the western Chicago suburbs, and dropped us down in Southern Illinois to get rich quick. “Mark me,” he said. “Within five years, people will be begging for ostrich meat, lowest ratio of sat fat to meat going.” And here we are. Giant birds and farmer neighbors and omelets every day for the rest of my life.
The shell of an ostrich egg is about an inch thick, like a bone water balloon. Mom makes the hole, squats, and lifts with her scrawny knees to empty the shell like a jug into a big aluminum bowl like Wilma Flintstone. “Dammit Marion, I’ve done it again.” She’s getting better at choosing the unfertilized eggs but occasionally she slips. I can’t help myself, I look in the bowl and there it is, half-formed, a sprinkle of beak, of eye and the beginning of wings like a baby’s nipples. A Tabasco splash of blood and I almost want to heave myself. It’s her own fault. She agreed to this life.
Arlaina Tibensky is the author of the young adult novel And Then Things Fall Apart (Simon Pulse, 2011) which was a Junior Library Guild Selection and received an ALA/YALSA Readers’ Choice nomination for realistic fiction. Her work has appeared in One Story, Inkwell, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Madison Review, and on The Dinner Party Download on National Public Radio. A recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship in Fiction, Arlaina holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and is an experienced workshop instructor. She is currently drinking a lot of coffee with almond milk and working on a novel.
Patrick Ryan on Buying the Farm
Suppose your family became involved in a business that obsessed them. Suppose it was almost all they ever talked about. And suppose they wanted you to get involved. Now suppose that family business was ostrich farming.
What does Marion, the narrator of “Buying the Farm,” have to say about ostriches? “They are nothing but stupid, dirty chickens from hell.”
Thankfully, the new issue of One Teen Story is about more than just ostriches. It’s also about being a teenaged girl trying to figure out her place in the family’s hopes and dreams. It’s about a teen who has an ostrich meat-obsessed father. And it’s about a guy named Veggie Carl (the only vegetarian at school).
We’re delighted to present you with Arlaina Tibensky’s often-hilarious story, “Buying the Farm.” We promise your opinion of it will be far higher than Marion’s opinion of ostriches.
Q&A by Patrick Ryan