Fiction logo

The Owl's Protection: Part 1

"Someday the owl will protect you and those you love too..."

By Morgan Rhianna BlandPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
1
The Owl's Protection: Part 1
Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

“Happy birthday, Grandma!” Six-year-old Lily stood beside the leather recliner, bouncing on the balls of her feet as she waited for Grandma to open her present. Inside the large wrapped box was a sculpted owl clock that Lily’s mom and dad found at one of the mall department stores, but the owl beanie baby that decorated the top of the box in place of a bow was Lily’s idea.

Grandma un-taped the beanie baby and gave it a little hug. Then she gave Lily a much bigger one. “Thank you, sweetie!”

Grandma had collected owls since Lily could remember. She’d collected owls since Lily’s mom could remember too. That was a long time and a lot of owls! All around the house were owls as far as the eye could see. Owl paintings on the walls, owl figurines on every shelf, owl pillows on the couch, owl dishes in the cabinets, owl towels in the bathrooms, even a few owl stuffed animals here and there. The stuffed animals were Lily’s favorites!

“Grandma, why do you have so many owls?” Lily asked

“When I was a little girl, I met a barn owl in the woods walking home from school one day,” Grandma said. “It was caught in a hunter’s trap, so I freed it, took it home, and nursed it back to health. Since then, the owl has always protected me. That’s how I met your grandpa.”

Grandpa appeared behind the chair, placing a hand on Grandma’s shoulder. “Not this tired old story again!” he laughed.

Lily’s blue eyes went as wide as saucers. “Ooh, tell me the story! Tell me, tell me, tell me! Pleeease!”

“Okay, settle down!” Grandma laughed too. She patted her knee, and Lily climbed into the chair beside her. “I was coming home from work when my car broke down in a bad part of town. An owl appeared and perched on the hood, and when it flew away, there was your grandpa. He asked if I needed any help, and the rest is history!”

Lily gazed up at Grandma with rapt attention as she spoke, her eyes never leaving the elderly woman’s face until Grandma and Grandpa shared a kiss. She made a face. Yuck!

As Lily looked away, the light glinting off Grandma’s necklace caught her eye. It was nothing fancy, just a brass stamping of an owl. But Grandma always wore it. “Is that why you wear that necklace?” Lily asked.

Grandma nodded, smiling. “My father gave this to me long ago as a reminder of the owl’s protection. The owl protects this family. Someday it’ll protect you and those you love too.”

********

Lily fidgeted with the brass owl pendant around her neck. She stood on the bridge, staring into the choppy blue-green water below, and her thoughts wandered to those words her grandma once said to her. It was all a lie. Nothing was coming to protect her.

By the age of thirty, Lily had lost everything. Diabetes had ravaged her body, taking her left leg, and now it was gradually taking her sight too. She could no longer drive. Walking or standing for long periods of time was like torture! But the worst part was that Lily had to face it all alone.

No man wanted a one-legged fat slob like her. All the people she once called friends ran for the hills the moment her health deteriorated. She had no siblings, and the rest of her family was long gone. Her dad died not long after she graduated high school, leaving her the family breadwinner. Her mom couldn’t handle it and followed him to the grave within a year. Her grandpa held on for about five years after that before succumbing to cancer. When her grandma passed, she took with her the last shred of acceptance and kindness left in Lily’s life.

Now she was nothing, worthless. If I jumped off this bridge right now, nobody would care, Lily thought. Nobody would even know…

********

WHOO!

Lily jumped slightly as the unexpected noise jerked her out of her thoughts. Her blonde head turned, and she spotted a barn owl, just like the one in the story her grandma told her, perched on the bridge rail beside her. In spite of her misery, she couldn’t help but smile. “So I suppose you’re here to protect me or something like that? Well, you’re a few years too late for that…”

The owl tilted its head, looking at her with baleful dark eyes. Then it flew away… straight into the path of an oncoming SUV.

Even with her failing vision, Lily saw the headlights approaching. She heard the tires screech as the car swerved, the car door slam, and the voice - a man’s voice - mutter, “Crazy bird! Damn thing came out of nowhere…”

But she paid it no mind. She stood still, gripping the cold metal rail with both hands, waiting for the guy to do whatever he was going to do. Any minute now, she’d hear the car start up again or the man’s voice on the phone calling a tow truck. Then she could get on with her life… or death, as the case may be.

She did hear his voice moments later, but he wasn’t calling a tow truck. He was talking to her. “Don’t do it! Whatever you’re going through, it gets better.”

Lily scoffed. If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I’d be set for life! She thought.

Still gripping the rail, she turned. Her eyes surveyed the stranger up and down. He was about a foot taller than her, dark-haired with eyes the same blue-green that the river had been before it darkened to black with the setting sun. She saw the designer sunglasses hooked to his shirt, the latest model iPhone in his hand, and the stereotypical soccer mom (dad) car behind him.

Those symbols of his affluence enraged her. All her life she’d been talked down to by people just like him! They offered their empty platitudes and inapplicable advice while never knowing a day’s hardship in their lives! “What could you possibly know about suffering?” she spat.

“More than you think.” Lily didn’t want to believe him. Everything in her screamed at her not to believe him, but there was something in those eyes… a kind of hidden sadness and unspoken understanding that no one could fake. “Here…”

Lily’s eyes darted from the stranger’s face to his outstretched hand and back. Before she knew it, her trembling hand was in his, and he was leading her away from the bridge. “I’m Jason Bailey,” he introduced himself. “What’s your name?”

“Lily.”

It had been so long since anyone looked at her with anything but disdain that seeing the kindness in Jason’s eyes moved Lily to tears. What was wrong with her? She didn’t allow herself to break down and cry, especially not in front of random people! She turned her head, hoping he wouldn’t see, but she knew he did, even before his arms wrapped around her. “S-sorry,” she sobbed.

She still half-expected him to mock her, just like so many others had. She expected him to pull away in revulsion at any moment, but he did neither. He just held her, whispering reassuring words until her tears stopped. “Do you have someone who can take care of you?” he asked.

Lily shook her head. What kind of question was that? If she had anyone, would she be out here? Despite everything that had happened, she still didn’t feel comfortable telling Jason the long sad story of how she lost everyone who ever meant something to her. So she left it at, “I don’t have anyone.”

“Well, I can’t just leave you all alone. I think you should come with me.”

LIly blinked. Why was he helping her? He didn’t even know her! When she asked him about it, he said, “I see helping people as its own reward.”

Too dumbfounded to speak, Lily followed Jason to his car. Perched on the hood was the same owl from before, watching. It ruffled its feathers with an air of self-satisfaction and flew away.

Short Story
1

About the Creator

Morgan Rhianna Bland

I'm an aroace brain AVM survivor from Tennessee. My illness left me unable to live a normal life with a normal job, so I write stories to earn money.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

Morgan Rhianna Bland is not accepting comments at the moment

Want to show your support? Become a pledged subscriber or send them a one-off tip.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.