Red Henley’s Disappearing Act

by Alexi G. Decker

“Kelly!” I yelled as we drove into her driveway, excited at seeing my best friend for the first time since camp meeting. Kelly raced us to her house. I jumped out of our car, grabbing as much of my stuff as possible.

“Have fun!” Mom called through her window. I waved back, smiling as she pulled out of Kelly’s driveway. Three whole days with Kelly!

“So, how are the hennies?” I asked as we walked to her house.

“Great, Michelle. Want to see them?” Kelly said, taking off in a sprint.

“Sure!” I said, in hot pursuit.

Kelly Peters and I have been friends since we were babies. My dad had been a youth pastor at their Seventh-day Adventist church in Puyallup. However, when we moved to Olympia, Kelly didn’t. We don’t see each other very often, so when we schedule a sleepover, it’s a big event.

Kelly had always wanted pets. Around Easter time, the Peters family had gotten hens because Kelly’s brother Mike was allergic to dogs and cats. The hens had to live in a specially designed coop to keep them warm and safe. Too much cold could kill them. I had seen pictures of the hennies when they were chicks. Tilly was Mike’s, Puffy was Mrs. Peters’, and Red Henley was Kelly’s. Henley was strawberry blond, just like Kelly.

This particular sleepover was Kelly’s dad’s birthday celebration. It was awesome!  We went to the Space Needle. At the gift shop Kelly and I got miniature cameras.  When we got back to Kelly’s house, Kelly, Mike, and I played with their hens. Then we let the chickens roam the Peters’ yard. We’d bring them in later. We ate popcorn and started to watch a movie.  It soon got dark.

Then, suddenly, Mike turned to us, a look of horror on his face. “The hens!”

We hadn’t brought in the hens! Kelly and I sprang out of the couch, tripping over our bare feet, blindly grabbing flashlights as we went.

“Tilly! Puffy! Red Henley! Here, chuuuuck chuck chuck chchchuuuck!” We called, shining our flashlights everywhere.

I flicked back my long brown hair. What am I going to do if we don’t find them? How am I going to comfort Kelly? Oh, Jesus, please help us to find them! I shivered. It had gotten colder, and all Kelly and I had on were thin flannel nightgowns. The grass was wet and cold.

Then Mike called, “I’ve found them!” Kelly and I raced to where Mike was shining his flashlight on a green tarp in the Peters’ front yard. I could make out some chickens. Thank You, God! I thought. He had answered my pray—

NO! It was only Puffy and Tilly. Red Henley was still missing! From beside me Kelly sobbed, “Henley! Where’s my Henley?” It was enough to break my heart. Jesus! Kelly needs You! Henley needs You! I thought.

“Kelly, do you want to pray?” I asked.

She nodded. I looked at my friend. Her strawberry-blond hair was a mess. Her big brown eyes were full of tears. She had almost given up hope for her beloved Henley.

“Dear Jesus, we love You. Thank You for the hennies. Will you please help us find Henley? In Your name we pray, amen.”

I squeezed my friend’s hand. “Have heart, Kelly,” I said, repeating a line from one of our favorite books. She smiled weakly.

Have heart. Have heart. Have heart. Have heart. Jesus! Where are You? Kelly needs You. I need You! I silently screamed. Tears streaked down my face. I could taste the salt in them. Kelly was literally wailing. I prayed constantly. Jesus, I know You can work miracles. I can’t. Will You please help us find Henley? “Have heart, Kelly,” I reminded my friend.

Mike came up to me. “Red Henley always was the tagalong. She would follow Tilly and Puffy around. She’s probably dead. A cat could have taken her, or she could have been scooped up by a hawk. Don’t get me wrong, I love Red Henley too. The problem is, it isn’t very probable that we’ll find her.”

I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t believe him. “Don’t you dare tell Kelly. She couldn’t take it.”

“But, Michelle–”

“No buts, Mike. I’m her best friend. I should know.”

Mike came up to me numerous times with his theory. Each time I stubbornly refused to believe him. An hour later, after we had turned the yard inside out, Kelly and I still stuck together, one flashlight between us. It got steadily colder, and to my bare feet, the night of July 3 was freezing (it wasn’t really freezing, of course, but it felt like it).

Finally, when everyone was thinking about going in, and Kelly was about to scream, Mrs. Peters called, “I’ve found her!” Mrs. Peters came carrying Henley onto the patio, where I was trying in vain to comfort Kelly. Kelly reached for Henley, face beaming through her tears.

“Henley!” Kelly cried. I was laughing and crying all at once. Kelly was too. Thank You, Jesus! He had answered my prayers after all! I’m sorry for doubting
You. I should have had more faith. You do answer prayers!

When we got back inside for more popcorn, Mrs. Peters told us the whole story. Henley had been on top of the arbor leading to their garden, asleep. She hadn’t even made one squawk. I laughed, surprised that we hadn’t seen her and yet had walked under her so many times.

“So much for your theory, Mike.  I’m so glad it was wrong,” I told him.

We spent about an hour playing with the chickens and comforting ourselves. I think we got to bed around 11:00 or 12:00.

Although Kelly and I have had a lot of other fun times, like sledding down their icy hill in January and making scrambled eggs, I don’t think either of us will ever forget the night God answered our prayers.


A bonus from the editors: Chickens come in lots of colors and sizes. Some sport fancy feather styles, and others lay eggs of various colors–even blue and green! Find out all about chickens at

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Red Henley’s Disappearing Act

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