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"That's funny," Becky North said. She was standing by the kitchen counter, peering curiously at an egg she was holding.
"What?" Carl, her husband asked, turning around. He was by the toaster oven buttering bread for their breakfast.
"This egg. It won't break."
"What? Of course it will. Just tap it harder."
Becky gave her husband one of those looks that said she didn't appreciate being condescended to. Just to emphasize the point, and to show him she knew what she was talking about, she held the egg and slammed it down on the counter hard enough to rattle the breakfast plates.
"See?" She held the intact egg out for Carl.
Carl took the egg and hefted it in his hand, then turned it over a few times, peering at it from all different angles. It felt and looked exactly like the other eggs remaining in the carton. Finally he said "Hmm. Guess it must be one of those fake eggs they put in nests to fool snakes into eating it. The snakes can't digest the imitation eggs and it kills them eventually."
Becky folded the top of the egg carton over and read the label. "Carl, these aren't from some farm. They're factory eggs, where the hens are kept in little cages. They don't even have nests. I don't think those places are bothered by snakes."
Carl thought for a moment but couldn't dispute her reasoning. "I wonder if the rest of them are like that?"
Becky pointed to the skillet, where the first egg she had broken was laying in the pan waiting to be cooked, like any well behaved egg should be after being taken from its shell.
"Try another one."
Becky did so. The shell broke and the contents joined the other onein the skillet.
"Well…I don't know, Beck," Carl said. He moved the unbreakable egg from hand to hand, then tapped it hard on the counter. The shell stayed solid, not even a crack. "I wonder if the others are safe?"
"I don't know, but I don't have time to fool around. Throw them away and let's eat some cereal. We're both going to be late for work if we don't hurry."
Carl checked the rest of the eggs before discarding them. They were all normal and went down the disposal with no problem. While they were eating, Becky noticed that the egg that wouldn't break still rested on the counter.
"Why didn't you throw that fake egg away?"
Carl shrugged. "I don't know. Curious, I guess. Leave it there; I'll look at it later."
• • •
Carl forgot all about the egg while at work that day, involved as he was with some ticklish engineering parameters for the assembly line. He was in charge of getting it ready to mass produce LED bulbs for household use. Busy as he was, he still got home before Becky, who taught at the local high school in Bevlon Grove, just outside St. Louis. Since he arrived first, he began taking out the leftover roast and vegetables they had planned for dinner. The first thing he saw when he set the roast pan on the counter was the egg, resting on the potholder he had placed it on to keep it from rolling. Not that we'd have to worry about it breaking , he thought.
With the food out and waiting, he picked up the egg. At first he thought it was still the same invulnerable, imitation egg, but then he noticed a difference. He had to squint to be sure, but there was no doubt. Right near the smaller end of the egg he could see a hairline crack, just barely visible.
"Must have cracked it yesterday, after all," Carl muttered to himself. He picked up the egg and tapped it on the marble counter top, fully expecting it to break this time. It didn't. The shell was just as solid as it had been that morning, despite the crack. He set it back down and finished laying out the leftovers, then went in and turned on an evening news feed.
When Becky arrived, Carl began getting their dinner together while she changed clothes. When she came into the kitchen, the first thing that met her gaze was her husband, holding an egg up next to his ear and shaking it, as if expecting to hear something sloshing inside. He slammed the egg forcefully down on the counter, looked at it, then held it to his ear again. She didn't have to ask which egg he was fooling with.
"What on earth are you doing, Carl?"
He looked around, then smiled guiltily. "Oh. Well, I found a crack in this so-called egg and I thought I could go ahead and break it open, but apparently not."
"Let me see."
Carl handed it over. She examined it and traced the fissure down to where it split into two lines extending a fraction of an inch apart. She hit it on the counter top herself, then looked at it again, shrugged, and said "I'm hungry. Forget the egg. Better yet, throw it away. It's not good for anything." She tossed it to him.
Copyright © 2005 Darrell Bain
Posted August 21, 2013
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