Soft moonlight danced and sparkled in his bright onyx eyes. He perched snugly on his knurled olive branch. Diamonds gleamed from his pave inset breast and the leaves on his perch. Painstakingly crafted of bright silver and darker pewter, the little owl was timeless and lifelike. The old silversmith had crafted him under the light of a full moon and magic was as imbedded in the pendant as the diamonds in his breast.
Carefully Rachael picked him up cradling him in her cupped hands. Of all the treasures in Mama’s jewel box, he enthralled her. Quietly she whispered her thoughts and dreams to him, remembering the good times when Mama would sit with her and tell her stories about the little owl. Mama said the little owl was a family heirloom passed down from her mama and her mama before her. Mama told her the little owl was magical and would belong to her when she was a little older. But it had been years ago and Mama didn’t have time for her anymore. The little owl or Sean’an as she called him, was her only friend.
Creaking stairs alerted her someone was coming. She kissed and put him him back in the jewel box. Whirling to leave she was too late. The hulking form of her mama’s boyfriend filled the door, an evil gleam in his soulless eyes. Fear rose in her throat, as her heart thudded in her fragile chest. The old pine floors creaked ominously as he stalked further into the room shutting off her escape.
“You know you aren’t supposed to be in here. This means I have to punish you. You are a very bad girl.” His voice was dark and husky, feeding her fear. The thick leather belt hissed as he pulled it from his waist.
Her feet froze to the floor, closer he stalked her. Desperately she willed herself to move. He drew back to slap her, when an owl hooted in the dark. Startled he stopped and looked towards the window. Onyx eyes gleamed red in the moonlight, razor sharp beak and talons tested the glass. Tap, tap, tap, rip, the owl’s beak found the open window screen. A blood thirsty scream filled the room as the owl fought the mangled screen.
Silent wings soared into the room, eyes locked the opponents sized each other up. Blood painted the walls as beak, talons, wings, and hands engaged in time honored battle. The little girl watched tucked between a chest of drawers and the wall while her tormentor fought to escape the frenzied owl. Moments stretched like hours until the man fell bloodied to the floor.
The owl landed on clicking talons walked across the scarred oak floors to the girl. Cocking his head, he eyed her a moment. Softly he hooted question like at her before turning and jumping to the windowsill. The owl turned back, his eyes gleaming, to look at her one last time before soaring into the pitch calling his victory into the night.
Taking the tiny owl up again she cuddled him against her cheek. Tears washed over him. “Thank you for protecting me.” she whispered quietly to the pendant.
She slipped her little friend into her pocket and looked at the monster that would never haunt her again. She climbed on the window sill and disappeared into the night. The moonlight lit her path down the ivy trellis and to safety. On the wind a faint hoot called to her.
Downstairs Mama smiled through mangled blood frothed lips. Her child was protected and she could die peacefully. Her mama had told her to keep the owl safe for her daughter would need it’s protection one day. Her daughter’s life was just beginning and her’s was ending. Closing her bruised and swollen eyes, the wind carried her last words into the night.
Rachael stopped and looked towards the house, she thought she heard her Mama’s voice. The night wind sighed “Follow the owl”. Rachael closed her eyes tears filling them. Mama was gone and she was alone. Mama had always told her the owls were the guardians of the forest and would help those in need. She felt the owl in her pocket, she would follow the owl. She wiped the tears from her eyes. Dark wings soared overhead and hooted in the forest.
” I will go with you”