Original Short Fiction: "Samantha's Brown Egg Problem"
Brown & White Eggs
Assignment for a Science Project
Samantha was determined to make her scientific assignment one to remember. Mrs. McDuffy was Samantha's fifth grade teacher, and science was Samantha's favorite class. Samantha's mind twirled with ideas about what to do for the upcoming Haywood Elementary School Science Fair. She wanted her project to shine like new hair ribbons. She wanted it to show something important, something earth-spinning, something that would say, "Samantha Elaine Joenes is the master scientist of the Universe." But she knew that before that could happen, she would have find the best science project in the world. But what, oh what, could it be?
Samantha ran through some ideas like demonstrating the workings of a battery or a toy that a battery causes to be fun. She could raise mice or crickets or fish and explain how she helped them to thrive. She could bring her fantastic set of chemicals and show what happens when she mixes certain ones together. She even thought about explaining how magnets work, and why you have to keep them away from cell phones. But all of these had been done one way or another. Oh, of course, she could do them better, but no, no, no, she had to have something new, fresh, special, and very important.
Samantha just had to produce the number one, prize winning project. And she was determined to keep looking, and thinking, re-thinking until she found it. Samantha could be very persistent in all things—but especially when it came to science she was completely all in!
In Mrs. McDuffy's Class, It Went Like This
Jamal put this question to Mrs. McDuffy and the class, "Are all eggs that same? I mean, do brown eggs and white eggs come from the same place?"
Mrs. McDuffy, without missing a beat, goes, "Who knows the answer to Jamal's question? Do brown eggs and white eggs come from the same place?"
Manuel piped up as usual, "Everybody knows chickens lay eggs! What so puzzling about that?"
Jamal then returned the volley: "Well, some eggs are white. Right? But some eggs are brown. Right? Are they the same? I know they come chickens but what chickens? Are they different chickens? Can a chicken lay a white egg one day and a brown egg the next day?"
Mrs. McDuffy, again, puts the question to the class: "Okay, what do you all think? Brown eggs, white eggs, chickens? Do the same chickens lay both eggs? Put on our thinking caps and give it a whirl, class!"
Elena then adds a thought: "Mostly I see white eggs. I saw a brown one on TV once. I just figured that when chickens eat brown stuff it turns their eggs brown. That could be wrong, though, I guess."
Again, Mrs. McDuffy had a question: "Well, interesting idea, Elena! But what would a chicken have to eat to turn its eggs brown?"
Elena looked puzzled as she thought and thought, her thinking cap becoming tighter and tighter but not giving her any answers. Then the bell sounded, and she thought, "saved by the bell."
It was the lunch bell, and Mrs. McDuffy wrapped up the class by saying that the discussion had been a valuable one, and that they would have to talk more about that brown egg problem. She told the class to read up on the issue, and come back tell the class what they had found out. She then marched the class off to the cafeteria where the hungry bunch of thinkers were served potato salad that contained eggs. Some of student-scientists wondered if some of those eggs were brown.
On the way back to class, Marcy saw one of the cooks and asked him, "Mr. Garcia, those eggs in the egg salad, were they brown or white?" To which, Mr. Garcia, after giving Marcy a quizzical look replied, "They were all white and yellow! Did you not see that?" Marcy decided to let the issue drop.
Back to the Brown Egg Problem: Whence Cometh Those Critters?
The brown egg issue had hatched itself into the brain nest of Samantha Joenes, who had listened with great intensity to the morning exploration of that issue. She knew that after lunch they would be studying English, and no one would come up with the brown egg answer. She had become very curious about the whole thing, and the questions of where brown eggs come from and why they get to be brown was bursting though her head. She felt certain she had the project that would surprise and enlighten the world: but first she had find out the answer!
After school and back home for the rest of the day, Samantha remained a little befuddled about how she was going to work this project, but unfortunately, she had to get her math homework done, and then write an extreme fantasy for her essay in English. For her English paper she decided to write about a farmer who raised rabbits, and he discovered that by feeding his rabbits chocolate candy and giving them hot chocolate to drink, they would give birth the chocolate bunnies, like the ones that come out every Easter; the farmer got rich by selling the chocolate bunnies at Easter time.
Brown Eggs! Brown Eggs! Even in Her Sleep
Samantha was delighted by her silly little story about the farmer and his chocolate bunnies, but before she could return to the brown egg project, she had to get some sleep. She got up from her study table, turned down her covers, and slid into bed, still thinking about the brown egg issue.
My science project is going demonstrate how chickens will produce brown eggs. Everyone knows that hens lay eggs. Look at these two white hens, on the verge of laying eggs right here in these nests. Now watch, the first hen, I am giving her a glass of white milk. Watch close, now, I am placing her gently on her nest and she pops out her egg: voilà, it is white! Now keep on watching, I take the second hen, and let her drink a glass of chocolate milk. Again, I set her on her nest, and she then lays a "brown egg!" So we see that the answer to how you get brown eggs is giving chocolate milk to the hens before she lays her egg! Want white eggs, give her while milk! Chocolate milk—brown eggs! White milk—white eggs!
Dexter Peterson jumped up and shouted, "Amazing! Amazing! Oh! Oh! I have a question? Do you get chocolate milk by letting cows drink chocolate milk?"
Samantha quickly responds: "Oh, yes, Dexter! That's exactly correct!"
"Wait! Samantha! I'm shocked at how wrong you got his project. I'm afraid you have failed this assignment, and by giving such false information, you have set back science a hundred years! You will need to study very hard by missing your recesses for four months!"
Samantha was now shocked. Where had she gone wrong? She had researched and researched and even read the most important book on the brown egg problem: Magic for Parties: How Pull a Brown Egg out of a White Hat. It then hit her that she had done a very foolish thing, relying on a book of magic, not science.
Wake Up and Smell the Truth
With a startled jerk, Samantha popped up in bed the next morning, after a troubled sleep. Then she realized that she had had a very bad dream about failing her science assignment and looking like a complete ignoramus before her school chums. She had to smile, though, as soon as understood why she had such a goofy dream: it was her fantasy paper for English! She had a farmer feeling chocolate to real rabbits and turning them into Easter chocolate bunnies. Chocolate milk and brown eggs and white milk and white eggs and chocolate bunnies and farmers! Science couldn't keep this budding scientist from having nightmares, but she brightened up when she finally realized that she had a month and half until the science project was due.
A thought popped into Samantha's fevered brain: could it be that white chickens lay white eggs and brown chickens lay brown ones? She didn't know but again was so glad that she had a full six weeks to find out.
Brown Hens, White Hens
© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes