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Wisdom the Owl

by Osana Wasut 8 months ago in Short Story
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A short story

She packed a bag and left. No goodbyes, not even a note. She just left.

Where she was going, she did not know. She didn't care, anywhere was better than there.

There, she felt unwanted, like a massive burden, even unloved. They meant well, but they couldn't give her what they did not give themselves, and that was love.

Now she walks, alone, through the deep calm that comes only at the crack of dawn. She walked for what felt like hours. Away from the life she had known her entire life. Since she was very young, when her real parents died in that fatal accident, she was sent off to live with some relatives.

They lived in the countryside, far away from any town or city. She felt completely isolated there. Her only friend happened to be a barn owl who had shown up one day out of nowhere, and decided to stay.

She named him Wisdom… For he always seemed to know exactly what to say, or not say. It was more of a telepathic bond they had, and she would talk to him as though he could indeed understand her.

She would spend most of her days hiding out in that barn with Wisdom. It was the only place she felt safe, and she would sit and ponder her life, the meaning of it, and why she had it so hard.

The owl would come and go as he pleased, sometimes leaving for hours to hunt, but always returning. She appreciated his loyalty, and it was like he knew how much she needed him.

The hardest part of leaving this place was saying goodbye to Wisdom. She cried for hours leading up to her departure, for she had known for a while that she was going to leave, she had to, or else she would simply not survive.

It was getting worse and worse, and she felt extremely unsafe residing under the roof of those people. They did not care for her; in fact, they did everything they could to make her life a living hell.

So she had planned her escape for weeks, saving up little bits of food as much as she could, an apple here, a granola bar there, whatever she could save, for she didn't know how long she would have to walk before she found anyone that could help her.

She had only been to the nearest town once before, and that was many years ago, when she became very ill and they needed to take her to the doctor. Begrudgingly, they put her into the car and drove into town, Anna moving in and out of consciousness during the ride.

The illness had taken over, and she could barely walk anymore. It had lasted for weeks before they finally decided to do something to help. In hindsight, they probably only did that so they wouldn't lose their servant, because that was what she was to them.

Now, as she walked towards what she thought was the direction of this town, she reflected back on this memory. Even Wisdom knew something was wrong, and he would fly to her bedroom window at night, bringing her wild flowers and herbs. These small gestures of kindness that this owl would show her were what kept her going through the hardest days of her life. They showed her that at least someone cared...

The sun began to rise over the hilltop and she felt the morning rays caress her skin. Soon the sun would take the chill out of the air and it would be day.

She had no idea where she was going, or how long she would be walking for, but she was ready for it. She figured eventually she would run into someone, and hopefully they would be kind enough to help her out, even if it was just a small meal and glass of water.

Despite her life with her relatives, she still had faith in people.

The birds were chirping their morning songs and the sky turned brighter and brighter as the sun moved higher into the sky. It was a beautiful sight and one day, years from now, she knew she would probably write about this experience.

She contemplated her existence, and what it all meant. Why was her life filled with so much hardship and struggle? What was it preparing her for?

If losing her parents wasn't difficult enough, the years that followed living with those people, her relatives, well that was even worse.

Surely it was for a reason, although she struggled to figure out what that reason was.

Wisdom was her one and only friend, and he always seemed to bring a glimmer of joy to her dark and dismal days. He would fly around the barn, freely, with grace and ease. It was almost poetic, the way in which he would move about.

She longed for that type of freedom. She wished so much that she could just fly away.

But alas, she was stuck. She was trapped on this small farm in the middle of nowhere.

She wondered on many occasions, why Wisdom chose to stay. He could go anywhere he wanted, why did he stay with her? It didn't make sense why he would stick around that place… Surely there were better barns out there to call home?

Around mid morning she stopped to take a break, and ate half of an apple she had saved from a couple weeks back. She was smart to plan for this trip for a few weeks before leaving, as it gave her time to mentally and physically prepare for the journey, and start to save whatever food they gave her.

She knew at this point that she would have to ration the food she did bring, for she had no idea how long it would be before she came across help.

The sun was now high in the sky and it warmed her face. It was early spring where she lived, and there were still little bits of snow on the ground after a long and harsh winter.

She sat on a rock and noticed some new grass starting to sprout. A new beginning, a fresh start.

After resting for several minutes she got up and continued on her journey.

Time passed slowly as she walked through the wide open fields. The day started getting warmer as the sun continued its journey across the open sky. It was a nice day, just a few clouds in the sky.

She wondered about Wisdom and if he had noticed yet if she was gone, and what he would do once he did figure it out. Would he leave and find a new barn to stay in, or would he continue staying there?

Her shoes were getting damp as she walked through the wet and snowy fields, and it was becoming increasingly more and more uncomfortable to walk with wet and cold feet.

It must have been early afternoon when she finally decided to sit down and take her shoes and socks off for a bit in hopes that the sun would dry them, and she relaxed into the day.

Despite what was happening, she felt completely safe and protected, and this allowed her to be calm and close her eyes for a bit to rest.

She dozed off for a while, how long she didn’t know, but when she woke up, she immediately sensed that something wasn't quite right.

Suddenly there was a lot of commotion around her, birds were flying around and chirping wildly, almost as if they were trying to get her attention.

In the distance, she noticed something moving towards her, and it was moving fast.

She didn't have much time to think about what to do, or to even put her shoes back on, and so she quickly got up and started running in the opposite direction.

Running as fast as she could without shoes, she reached a tree and decided it was probably the safest option to climb it.

So up she climbed, as high as she could. She didn't even know she could climb so well, or maybe it was just the adrenaline that moved her up that tree with ease.

Once she reached the highest point she could go, a good height from the ground, she looked down to watch what it was that was following her.

As it approached, she realized it was a wolf, and it looked to be quite hungry. It did not seem friendly. But thankfully, it could not climb the tree, but he was not giving up that quickly as he paced back and forth underneath the tree.

She felt her heart beating very fast, trying to catch her breath from all the running. She didn't have anything with her, no shoes, no bag, no water, and she had no idea how long this wolf would stay waiting for her.

The thought frightened her… What if he never leaves? What if I die up here in this tree from dehydration or starvation?

All the ‘what if’ scenarios suddenly flooded her mind, like waves in the ocean, uncontrollable and unpredictable, they came in one after another.

She waited, and waited, and so did the wolf, who was now lying down underneath the tree, patiently waiting for his next meal.

Time crept on, slowly, and the sun started to set in the west. She knew nightfall would be quickly approaching, and there was no sign of help in any direction in the distance, and the wolf showed no signs of leaving anytime soon.

Was she going to sleep up here? What if she fell off the branch in the middle of the night? Again the what if’s danced recklessly around her mind.

The sun was now setting, it was beautiful, like nothing she had ever seen before, and really she hadn't because she was always forced to be inside at this time of the day, forced to prepare the meal and clean for her relatives.

She was never allowed to watch the sunset, and now seeing it for the very first time made her sad, for its beauty was magnificent and like nothing she had ever witnessed.

How much of her life had she missed out on?

Was this it for her? Was she going to die in this tree, or worse, by this wolf down below her feet?

Tears welled up in her eyes and she started to cry as sorrow consumed her entire being. She cried, and screamed until she had nothing left in her, her energy depleting rapidly as the sky turned darker and darker with each passing minute, tiredness creeping in quicker than she expected.

Suddenly, the wolf started to howl, which startled her awake.

In the distance, several other wolves howled as well, and they started coming closer and closer.

Before she knew it, they too were right under the tree, an entire pack of wolves, who seemed just as hungry and angry as the first wolf.

Thankfully, she felt rather safe up in the tree, however she knew she couldn't stay up here forever. She was already thirsty and hungry and it had only been a few hours at this point. She really didn't know what she would do, or what was going to happen to her.

The sky was now completely dark and the stars were shining brightly. Another beautiful sight that she had not gotten to see before, as her bedroom that she was locked into every night after dinner had no proper view of the sky. She wasn't allowed to come out of her room at all in the evenings, other than once right before bed to go to the washroom.

Her relatives were very strict with her, and did not allow her to do a lot of things.

The only thing she was allowed to do was spend a few hours each day in the barn, provided she cleaned and took care of the other animals, a pig, a cow, a horse, a cat, and of course Wisdom the owl.

That was generally what she spent the afternoons doing, and then she would prepare dinner for them, getting only the leftovers of whatever they didn't want, and then they would leave the kitchen to go do what they wanted, leaving her with the cleanup.

Once that was done, she was expected to spend the duration of the evening in her small bedroom, consisting of a small desk, a bed and a closet for her few items of clothing.

Now, she sat, stuck in this tree. She was used to not moving or doing much for hours each day, but this was a lot more uncomfortable and scary, for despite how terrible her relatives were to her, she was never truly worried that she would die by their hands.

Now she faced her own fear of death, her own immortality. She suddenly realized how little she had lived at this point. She hadn't even seen the sunset, or the sunrise. She hadn't seen the stars, or even the moon. She had so much left to see in this world, and she wasn't ready to die yet. She had so much life still to live.

As she contemplated her own existence, the wolves began to lay down as though they were preparing to stay under this tree for as long as they needed to get their next meal.

It had been a long, cold winter, and food was scarce all around, so it was no wonder they were so patient and persistent.

Suddenly, in the far distance, she heard a familiar sound. A faint, but distinct, “hooo hoooooo.”

“Wisdom!!” she yelled out loud, arousing the attention of the wolf pack below.

As the owl approached closer, and closer, he got louder. He landed right on the branch beside her, and she knew immediately that he had come to find her, and rescue her from this trouble she found herself in.

How he would do that, she didn't know, but they sat there together, gazing into each other's eyes for several moments, bonding on a deeper level than she had ever experienced with any other human before.

Then, he gave her one final look as if to say, “get ready” and let out one final “hooooooo”. He opened his wings and flew up off the branch, then down to the wolves to get their attention.

The wolves all noticed this owl taunting them, and started to get up, growling and licking their lips.

Wisdom flew off and away, low enough to the ground to show them they had a chance to catch him, but high enough that it wouldn't be easy for them.

Moving swiftly, he took off in the complete opposite direction, the wolves running after him as quickly as they could to keep up.

She watched and waited until they were far off into the distance before she quickly climbed down the tree and ran towards the area where she had left her shoes and the rest of her belongings. Luckily it was all still there and her shoes and socks had enough time to dry.

She moved quickly, knowing she didn't have much time to find a new place to hide for the night in order to get at least a couple hours of sleep before dawn.

The sky was now completely dark and the moon was shining brightly as it illuminated the snow that had not melted yet, and she kept moving in the opposite direction of the wolves.

She wondered about Wisdom and if he was okay, she worried that the wolves had caught him and now they were coming back for her.

Had this owl, her only friend in the world, just sacrificed his life for her?

A chill ran down her spine at the thought.

Out in the far distance, she noticed a small light, and she felt a twinge of hope.

She picked up her pace a bit more in hopes that she had finally found someone who could help her out.

As she drew closer, she realized it was indeed a small house, with just a single light on, shining brightly in the dark and chilly night.

It was a small but cozy house, nothing extravagant, but it felt warm and inviting, she approached the porch with hesitation and knocked gently on the door.

She heard movement inside, and realized that it must have been quite a shock to get a visitor at such a late hour of the day. She had no idea what time it was, but it must have been approaching 9 or 10 pm by this point.

Slowly the door creaked open, and there stood an old woman with long gray hair, wearing a knitted wool sweater and comfy looking pants.

“Hello?” The woman said.

“Hi, can you help me please?” Anna spoke softly.

A silence followed for what felt like several minutes as this old woman just stood and observed this young, distraught, tired, and hungry girl, standing on her front porch.

Finally, the woman opened the door wide and said, “Of course dear, please come inside and warm up.”

The woman moved slowly, yet with determination, and went to her bedroom, returning a couple minutes later with a dry set of clothes for her new guest. Then she showed her to the wash room where Anna could shower and put on some warmer clothes.

As Anna took care of herself, the old woman prepared a snack of cheese, crackers and fruits along with a hot drink that Anna had never tasted before, but it was sweet and delicious!

For the first time in her life, Anna felt safe and taken care of, and this was a very new feeling for her.

The two sat in the warm living room for hours and talked, and Anna explained her entire life up until that point. They cried, and laughed, and by the end of the conversation, the old woman looked lovingly at Anna and said, “You are safe here now, and you can stay here for as long as you want. Come with me, let me show you to your bedroom.”

It was more than she could ever have asked for, her own room, with a comfy bed, a dresser, and a desk to write at. It even had a window that looked out into the field and the sky full of stars.

The days there passed by quickly, and the two became good friends, and it became apparent that they both needed each other, they both took care of each other, and it was a good match.

The old woman had lost her husband a few years prior and was becoming lonelier and lonelier by the day, and that gentle knock on her door was an answer to her prayers.

Anna quickly realized that this was where she was meant to stay for the time being, at least until she was old enough to go out and live on her own, but the old woman had told her she was more than welcome to stay for as long as she wanted.

As for Wisdom, he showed up one morning completely out of nowhere, a couple months later, and it brought great joy to Anna when she opened the front door, about to watch the sunrise, and there he was, sitting on the porch, with a wildflower in his beak, waiting for her to come outside and play.

The End.

Short Story

About the author

Osana Wasut

Sharing my stories with the world. Writing has been a great tool for transformation, and I feel like I am only starting to dive deep into the self. Life is a wonderful gift, live to the fullest!

Find me at www.osanawasut.ca

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