Something in the stars called her that night. The way they seemed to shine extra bright as the moon floats in all her glory among the blackness of the sky. Looking up, Iris marveled in the way the slight breeze caressed her face, making her ache for the love she never had. In the distance, she heard its greeting, a small “hoo, hoo” calling and beckoning her closer. Iris was lost and alone in every possible sense. With no friends and no true direction to take, the meaning and significance of her life always remained a mystery to her. She decided to follow the owl’s call as it continued getting louder with each new step she took within the foggy, darkened woods.
Feathers, the softest of white and brown, contrasted in the dark night as the barn owl watches from atop its perch, then suddenly turning his attention to the sound of crunching leaves from beneath Iris’ shoes. For a moment they look to each other, a strange familiarity emanating as if they had known each other from a previous life. The owl’s eyes shone in the night, vibrant yellow orbs like small moons. In an instant, the barn owl gives one more, small “hoo” before flying off the tree branch beneath its talons. “Wait!” Iris cried out and began to run after the now soaring owl.
Step after step, breath escapes her lungs. It isn’t long before Iris becomes short of breath and needs to stop. She slumps forward with her hands resting at her knees just as they begin their fall to the ground, her chest heaving to take in a breath. It’s only when she looks up that she realizes the change in what now surrounds her. Gone are the naked trees, the foggy mist that hugged her just mere minutes ago. The sun lights up the forest, now adorned with full trees, the likes of maple and cherry blossom. In the distance, she thinks she spots what looks to be apple blossoms and squints to get a better look. “They are apple blossoms”, she whispers to herself. She stands bewildered at the sudden change. “How can this be?” Iris wonders.
“Hoo”. Looking up she sees the barn owl again, now perched upon a fully bloomed cherry blossom tree decorated with beautiful pink flowers, the girl looks to it curiously. “Where have you led me? What is this place?” It was silly, she knew, to ask an owl such a question in the hopes she might find an answer. Answers she desperately needed. The owl looked at her and a calm fell upon her. This forest, this…place, whatever and wherever it may be, was something she could only conjure up in her dreams. It was something straight out of fairytale books she had read as a child and yet, here it is, all around her and filling her senses with a feeling she hadn’t felt in a while. Joy.
Iris didn’t want to leave. Already engulfed in its beauty, she ate fresh apples from the trees, picked the most stunning flowers from the numerous gardens there, and constructed a flower crown. Something she had never done before but, for some reason, felt compelled to do now. Tired, she napped in between the long blades of grass as the feel of their wisping in the slight breeze lulled her to sleep. Allowing the peace she suddenly felt, to take over.
“Hoo-hoo. Hoo-hoo.” The familiar sound causes groggy eyes to peer open, once again seeing the barn owl, now perched in front of her, on the ground. This is the closest she has been to the creature since first seeing it in the one time foggy woods. “I don’t know where you’ve taken me, but I don’t want to leave”, she begins to say. “Please, don’t make me leave. Not for a bit at least.” The owl looked at Iris, an odd look of recognition on its features.
One, two, three flaps of the owl’s wings, and off it went. Flying side-by-side, the pair now longer alone, soared in the crystal blue sky.