Egg Cetera

Freya loved eggs. She ate as many each day as her age, and by the time she was seven, this was significantly denting the household budget. People told her that she shouldn’t eat so many – think of all the calories, and the cholesterol, and all that fat. But she ran around and played all day, and seemed to be healthy. Besides the grocery bill, her mother wasn’t concerned. As Freya’s birthday approached, however, her mother decided to broach the subject. “Freya, would you like to have a hen house?” she said. “Where you could raise your own eggs? That could be fun.”

Freya didn’t need to be asked twice. For her eighth birthday, her father built her a henhouse and painted it red. He fenced off part of their yard as a run. There was no doubt – this was the best thing that had ever happened in her life. A box of eighteen chicks was on special offer online. Freya ordered them immediately from Celestial Chicks, despite their spelling mistake saying “Free Rune” rather than “Free run”. Freya didn’t sleep until they arrived.

The chicks grew quickly, and before she knew it, they were ready to lay. They all laid their first eggs together on the same day, which was even more thrilling. After this they laid one egg, each and every day, like clockwork. Freya only needed eight eggs daily, so gave the rest to her friends and neighbours, who said the eggs tasted really good. She had a mind to go into the egg business, but needed time to develop her business plan. You can’t rush these things.

After a few days the eggs changed shape; they became more pointed. Her mother said this was due to the hen’s oviduct becoming stronger; its pressure caused the egg to distort. And the eggs became speckled. Her mother said it was due to the soil here lacking calcium; the spotting reduced brittleness. But her mother had no explanation for the patterns that began to appear on the eggs. Every day that week, each hen’s eggs had a particular pattern of speckles. “Quite unusual,” agreed her mother.

This was what could be called a USP, thought Freya: Unique Selling Proposition; something that differentiated you from the herd – or in this case, brood. She had already thought of her brand name: Egg Cetera; but she had a problem – people bought eggs in dozens, and she only had ten to spare daily. She decided to sacrifice two eggs a day to please her customers. She made a sacrifice to herself.

She tried the local restaurants first. They thought she was cute and agreed to try three eggs each. But when she went back the next day, they all said the same thing.

“They are too inconsistent in appearance and taste. Our customers won’t like them.”

“Why don’t you try some more?” she said.

“If the three you gave us are a good sample,” they said. “More eggs will only mean more difference.”

She showed them the patterns. “Look!” They couldn’t see them. “I’ll give you a discount – only 40 cents each instead of fifty.”

“Sorry kid. Try the store.” But the store said that they weren’t approved by the Food Police, so they couldn’t take them.

Freya noticed a strange thing. Whereas before, each hens’ eggs had carried a particular pattern, now they changed daily, with a random mix of designs.

An eagle began circling near the house. Her mother said, “You better watch your hens.” Her father fitted mesh along the top of the run. It made her feel sad, reminding her of battery hens. But she had to protect them.

Freya decided to sell the eggs privately. She would build up a local customer base. She decided her goal was seven customers: a box a week each. But before she began her marketing campaign, her mother said to her, “Someone’s here to see you. I think it’s your first customer.”

“May I help you, Sir?” she said to the bearded, one-eyed man.

“Yes you may. I hear this is the sales office of Egg Cetera.”

“You are correct.” She thought, boy word travels fast in the corporate world.

“I would like to purchase all the eggs you have,” said the man.

“Ok, we have twelve available.”

“Actually I need eighteen,” he said, winking at her. This was unnerving from a man with one eye. It made him seem both sleeping and hurt.

“Well, I am afraid we only have twelve available.” Freya repeated.

“I know that you have eighteen hens,” said the man. “I will pay you well for all of their eggs.”

In a moment of inspiration Freya said, “Ok, we can give you eighteen eggs, but they will be $1 each.” She could buy her personal eggs for 50 cents from the store.

“It’s a deal,” he said. “I will need eighteen eggs every day.”

“Now wait a minute, I only said today.” A quick calculation told her that $18 x 7 days was $126 weekly. “But ok, we will supply you.”

The man came daily for his eighteen eggs, and paid her cash on the spot. It was a sweet arrangement. This continued for a month. In that time the hens got older, and the patterns of the eggs more defined. They began to seem like letters, but no alphabet she knew (she knew Roman letters, and her friends had shown her how to write her name in Cantonese, Japanese, and Punjabi). She thought she’d better apologize to the man for the strange letters.

He said, “There’s no need to apologize, Freya. That’s why I buy them. I’m learning to read them.” Then he winked and walked away laughing.

One day he didn’t come for his eggs. Freya thought there must have been an emergency, and kept them to one side. He didn’t come the next day either, or that whole week. Seven day’s production was impacted. She managed to find other customers, but she was really angry with him.

One day while she was out on her bike, two ravens came hurtling towards her. She put up her arms in defence, but they flew around and landed on her shoulders. They whispered magical sounds into her ears and flew ahead to guide her. She reached a farmhouse in the Meadows. No one was there so she looked inside the barn.

One huge wall was filled with her eggs. They were arranged by the day, with patterns facing front. Beside them was a vast chart filled with cross referenced symbols. An old book lay open, titled, “The Secrets of the Runes”. Freya heard a scream and crash in the forest. She went to see. The bearded, one-eyed man lay bleeding beneath a giant tree, but was laughing. “Thank you, sweet child,” he said. “I have it! I have it! I have it! The Cosmic Egg revealed the mystery, and the Cosmic Tree confirmed it. I know their secret; I am Master of the Free Runes! Now let’s talk business. How big do you want to get?”

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One Response to “Egg Cetera”

  1. Wonderful story… however there are some observations I would make if I were your editor.
    Regards

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