Eggzact Words
Inspired by the classic fairytale "Jack and the Bean Stalk"

Everybody knows about my son Jack. How he swapped my cow for a hat full of beans, and how I got mad at him for doing that and threw the beans out into the garden.

Everybody knows how the next morning Jack found a big bean plant there and climbed up it into the clouds. How he made that trip three times until finally he came sliding down, grabbed an axe, chopped down the bean plant, and stood back as this nasty old giant came tumbling down to his doom.

I watched all this out my kitchen window. I was very glad to have my boy back again, but we had a lot of cleaning up to do. We had a garden full of dead bean plant and a hole full of dead giant. But more than that, we had this chicken Jack had taken from the giant, a nice little hen, who-according to Jack-laid a real, honest-to-goodness golden egg whenever anyone said, "lay."

Of course when he told me this, sitting in our snug little cottage, the hen went Squawk! and laid a big golden egg.

"You're kidding, Jack," I said. "You mean, all you do is say 'lay' and it lays an egg?"

Squawk! went the hen. And Squawk! again.

"Yeah, ma," said Jack. "You just said 'lay' twice and she dropped two eggs."


"Woops," I said. "You said 'lay' again and we've got another egg."


Well, as you can see, we had a problem. No matter how careful we were with what we said, all too often one of us would say "lay", and after a couple of hours we had eggs everywhere, in the cupboards, covering the table, piled high in the corners, stacked along the windowsill. It was getting crowded, and while someday all those eggs might make us rich, it takes time to sell a lot of golden eggs, 'cause not many people around here can afford them.

We began to say "youknow" whenever we needed to say "lay." Like I would say, "That's some fast youknowing hen." Or Jack would say, "I'm tired, Ma. I think I'll go in the bedroom and youknow down."

"Oh no," I said trying to make sure Jack learned to speak exactly. "You mean you want to go and lie down, not-uh- youknow down."

"Lie, lay, what's the difference?"


And so the eggs kept coming. People would walk by and congratulate Jack, say, "Hey there, Jack the giant slayer!"


Or, "When do we get to see that hen? Will she be on display?"


Or, "Bring her out, Jack. What's the delay?"


Or to me, they would say, "Whatcha gonna do with all them eggs, Mrs. Jacksma. Bake a golden souff?"


When evening came I was worn out, although the hen seemed chipper enough. I had to get Jack out of the cottage for a time while I fixed his supper. "Go outside now, Jack," I said. "And don't you dare mention that youknow word."

"Okay," Jack said. "Tell me what's for dinner and I'll go out in the garden and...."

"Careful!" I said, too late.

"," Jack said.


I shrugged. "Oh well, what's another egg? I'm fixing you a nice..."

"Watch it, ma!" Jack said, too late.

"...fillet and for desert..."

Squawk! said the hen.

"...your favorite layer cake"




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