Eliza ran into the forest behind her family's cottage, as fast as her feet could take her. Her mother just told her the news: Eliza is a witch.
Thirteen years old, how could she not have known? How could her mother not have told her sooner? Is she supposed to pretend like this is OKAY? And now, suddenly, she's expected to attend a school for kids like her. To leave her friends behind, her normal friends. Eliza, herself, was no longer normal.
She stopped at a grand fir, exhausted from the tears streaming down her face and the running at mach speed. All she could do now was sit and sob -- her mind was racing with a million thoughts, yet blank at the same time. She didn't know what to think!
"Who am I?" she whispered to herself.
The tears stopped. The ones making their way down her cheeks couldn't be helped, but her tear ducts placed the rest on hold. Eliza had new thoughts to focus on now. What was that noise? Where did it come from?
Standing, she searched all over, desperate to hear the sound again. "Hoo!" This time, she could pinpoint it -- it was coming from above her, in the fir tree. An owl! More specifically, Eliza realized, it was a barn owl, a species that is well-known for being great listeners.
"Hoo!" the owl said again.
"Yes," Eliza said, "that's what I'm trying to figure out! Who am I? Am I still Eliza?"
"I just feel like this changes everything. Was I Eliza before, and I'm now someone else? Or have I never truly been Eliza, until this point, now that I know what I am?"
"No, not who -- what! I'm a witch. Not a normal girl, a witch. I have no idea who I am."
Eliza scowled. She didn't think this owl was as good a listener as she's been made to believe. Unless ...
"Miss Owl, are you trying to tell me it's not about WHAT I am, but about WHO I am? The person I've tried to become in my thirteen years of life?"
Eliza couldn't help but smile. Whether it tried to or not, this beautiful barn owl just unlocked the inner mysteries and turmoil of her heart. Sometimes, you don't need advice -- you just need someone to guide you to the answers you already know.
Wiping her face, Eliza sat down again, next to the tree. She wasn't quite ready to return to the cottage yet, to see her mother's face. Her family might be worried about her, but she still needed time to process everything.
Looking up at the night sky, Eliza took in all the twinkling stars. How had she not noticed them all before? Was it because she was too wrapped up in her personal drama? She tried to see the beauty of the sparkling lights against the dark background ... but something was still eating away at her.
"Miss Owl? Do you think I could still be a good person AND a witch?"
"I guess I just care what other people will say. What they'll think."
"You know, other people -- the kids at my school. Although ... I guess I won't be going back to that school anymore."
"You're right, who's going to know except the people who are like me? I'll meet MY people! Maybe they can tell me how to navigate the world now."
"My name is Eliza. It was nice to meet you Miss Owl." Eliza smiled at the owl once more before racing home. She didn't want her family to worry any longer.
She may not have all the answers right now, but Eliza knew that things would be okay. Thanks to Miss Owl.