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Florence & Humanity's Wise Friend

By ANITA RACHELLEPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
The Owl of Athena: c. 490–480 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art (historytoday.com)

Athena had been minding her own business, ruffling her feathers and preparing for her nightly flight, which usually resulted in a mouse or two for her succulent consumption. This evening, her tastebuds felt particularly picky and lizards at the steps of the Parthenon seemed a more challenging object of prey with their slithery speed and evasiveness. Perhaps not as appetizing as her normal dinner, but if she caught several, her protein intake might equal one rodent. She peeked through her perch, in the canopy of what the tourists called the Sacred Olive Tree, to envision her precise flight route towards the approximate area in which the reptiles might soon see their downfall. Deep in concentration, she did not notice the group of young boys who had congregated under the tree, shaking its branches, intent on their own objective in acquiring a few of its ripe olives for their midnight snack.

Before she could fully register the source of the jolts, the surrounding foliage, which usually kept her safe from intruders, now shook and threatened her balance, while her wings, which never failed her, now mysteriously lay limp and paralyzed. Gravity, usually not an issue, suddenly pulled her down and the source of her prime talents remained disabled as a result of shock. Down she fell, alongside olives, into the arms of a young Greek boy, who having forgotten about the green fruit, lifted her above his head as if having won a prized possession. His three friends circled round. Tousled from one pair of hands to another, she incorrectly assumed their curiosity might soon wane and lead to the voluntary release of her back into the evening, back to her evening affairs. After what felt like half of an hour of poking, prodding, and the boys’ shrill exclamations and botched attempts to connect what they may have learned in a school zoology lesson to her own being, she suddenly heard a female voice reprimanding the group, followed by a more comforting pair of hands now cradling her with care.

“Oh you poor little thing. Look how the hooligans tore your feathers. Let me take you home and fix you up,” Athena heard as she was carefully placed in the woman’s pocket. Annoyed that her planned feast would not come to pass this evening, Athena buried her head deeper in the dark fabric she found herself in.

“You must be hungry! Parthenope, my sister owns four small lizards. Let’s see if we can’t sneak them away for your enjoyment instead. What’s one or two missing?” Appeased by the thoughtfulness and near sixth sense to her needs, Athena settled more comfortably into the pocket and peeked her head out and up to look at her new friend who looked back down at her.

“Name is Florence. What’s yours?”

Athena tried to softly purr her response but her voice came out as a harsh screech, much like the earlier boys’ annoying squawks.

"Why, of course. Your name is Athena!”

How did she know? Athena enthusiastically screamed “Yes!” in response, hopeful that Florence truly could understand her.

And understand her she did. Florence attended to Athena dutifully and vice-versa. Athena imparted her enigmatic wisdom and protection upon Florence, who would go on to nurse and shield not just owls, but many a soldier, as well.

Athena couldn’t wait to report back to Zeus her brief adventure, a time travel thousands of years forward to 1854 A.D. Having embodied one small barn-like owl, who proved to be a wise host animal, she began to entertain the possibility of glimpsing into (and helping) all of humanity’s future through the eyes of all owls. If needed, she could use her powers to conjure more species to cover the world’s wide expanse. Running the calculations through her head, she determined that through certain means, she might be able to deliver a part of herself to Earth’s entire owl population, past, present, and future, while she technically sat at Mount Olympus, mission control, observing humanity via her owl friends, who in some ways, would become her, and she them.

Perhaps in this way, she could do her small part in helping protect all future civilizations from destruction, self-inflicted (for wasn’t all war such) and otherwise. The owls might be able to sprinkle wisdom and knowledge she had collected from the universe and disperse it to the populations who needed it most. Athena recognized she would need her father’s buy-in to move forward with her plan, but as his favorite child, if she weaved the idea the right way, he could not refuse the clear implications this plan could have in securing her family’s longevity and that of society’s at large. As she began to contemplate who else might need her help, and what civilization could benefit from any wisdom and protection she (through her owls) could impart, she heard Aphrodite, her half-sister/aunt, calling her with the usual air of superiority.

“Get in line sis/niece/whatever relative you are. We got Apollo and Hercules in there right now, and I’m up next. Got a proposal to extend my lineage and whip up some real beauties in humanity’s future. They need some help, because right now, it’s lookin’ ugly for ‘em.”

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