Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Girl and The Owl

The Girl and The Owl 

Once, there lived a young girl called Suzie.
Suzie did not have many friends. She was a small, shy, quiet girl, yet she was always getting into trouble, for Suzie was always daydreaming. All day long her teachers at school, and her parents at home, would say to her, "Suzie, are you listening?"
Suzie would blink and shake her head, as if rousing herself from a deep sleep, and the irritated teacher or parent would tut or sigh in frustration before repeating what they had just said.
The other young girls in Suzie's village had long since given up trying to talk to her in class or play with her after school. They found it exasperating when Suzie drifted away into her own little world halfway through a game or conversation.
So Suzie spent much of her time on her own, wandering through the grassy fields surrounding her small village or sitting on the old log at the bottom of her small back garden that overlooked the wooded valley below the village.

 One bright sunny day Suzie was wandering and daydreaming as usual when she came to edge of the grassy fields that surrounded her village. Lost in her imaginary world she did not stop to turn around but instead carried on straight into the woodland that lined the bottom of the valley by the village. She was so caught up in her daydream that she wandered through the woods for hours, until the sun began to set and the light between the tree trunks took on a strange hue.

A loud noise behind her made Suzie jump, startling her out of her daydream and back into reality. She peered through the tree trunks, her brown eyes wide and alert, but no matter which way she looked she could not see what had made the noise. She looked down at the ground, then up at the patches of slowly darkening sky that she could see between the treetops, then back into the gloomy half-light between the trees. She shivered, realising all of a sudden that she was totally and completely lost.
Suddenly Suzie felt very afraid. The idea of spending the night alone in the woods terrified her and she could already feel tears sparking in the corners of her eyes at the thought.
She looked around, turning in a circle and peering through the semi-darkness.
She started one way, then changed her mind and started another, then changed her mind again and stood, hopeless and afraid between the trees, unable to remember what path she had taken before.

 For a long time little Suzie stood in the slowly darkening woods, until salty tears leaked from her large brown eyes and small sobs escaped from between her soft pink lips.
Then a voice behind her made her jump.
"Little girl, are you alright?"
Quickly Suzie turned around and peered through the strange half-light, trying desperately to see who had spoken to her. But there was no one there between the trees, the woods were empty.
"Up here." Said the voice again.
Suzie turned her gaze upwards and saw, to her surprise, an owl sitting on a large branch, looking down at her with it's round yellow eyes. She swallowed, thinking she must be mistaken.
"Yes," said the owl, "It is I that is speaking to you."
"But," Suzie stammered, "Owls can't talk."
"Well little girl, quite clearly you are wrong about that, or we would not be having this conversation, would we?"
"Oh," Suzie thought for moment, "I suppose you're right."
"Yes." Said the owl. "Now, little girl, whatever were you doing crying all alone in the middle of the woods?"
"Oh," Suzie looked down at her feet, suddenly embarrassed. "I don't know where I am."
The owl looked at the girl for a long moment before speaking.
"Of course you know where you are, you are right here."
"But... where is here?"
"Here, is where you are."
"No... I... I'm lost, I don't know how to get home!"
"Well," said the owl, "Now that is another matter altogether."
"I didn't mean to... but I was walking along, and... I wasn't paying attention and... now I'm lost!" Fresh tears began to well up in Suzie's eyes as she thought of her warm home and her loving parents.
The owl looked at her with it's round yellow eyes but did not say anything more, and Suzie's tears fell faster and faster as she cried harder and harder.

 Finally, after some time, the owl spoke again.
"Little girl, what are you crying for?"
Suzie looked up through bleary eyes.
"I'm crying because I am lost and I want to go home."
"Well," said the owl, "That is not a thing to cry about."
Suzie stared at the owl, momentarily lost for words and feeling slightly annoyed that the bird did not seem inclined to comfort her when she so obviously needed it. The owl stared back at her.
"Being lost is horrible, of course it is a thing to cry about." Suzie finally said, somewhat defiantly.
"No." Said the owl.
"What do you mean no? Of course it is." Suzie could feel herself beginning to feel angry at the owls lack of understanding.
"No." Said the owl, "It is not."
"Stop it." Cried Suzie, "You don't know anything, you stupid owl!"
"On the contrary," Said the owl, "I know many things, one of which is that you should not speak so rudely to one who is attempting to help you."
"Help?" Stuttered Suzie, "How are you helping me?"
"Why, by trying to make you think about why you should not be crying."
"But how will that help me?" Suzie wailed, throwing her small arms into the air in exasperation.
"It will help because when your mind is no longer dwelling on the problem you may begin to think of the solution."
Suzie waited for the owl to continue but it merely looked at her with it's large yellow eyes.
"I don't understand." She said slowly, feeling like she might burst into tears again at any moment.
"Think about it," said the owl, and with that the great bird spread it's wings and took off, flying away through the trees and leaving Suzie alone once more.

 Confused and unsure what to do Suzie sat on the woodland floor and looked around her at the trees, thinking about what the owl had said and wishing that it would come back. She sat quietly for a long time, listening to the woodland noises around her and pondering the owls words. Eventually the dusk turned to darkness and Suzie could no longer see past the trees surrounding her. She looked up at the spattering of star speckled sky just visible through the leafy treetops and shivered, it was getting cold and she felt quite afraid. She thought of her parents and wondered if they were afraid that something bad had happened to her. Then she thought of the owl and his words to her and she wondered if she had started walking earlier instead of standing crying whether she would be home by now or not.

 Time passed in a strange timeless fashion until eventually Suzie came to a decision and stood up.
"You are no longer crying, are you thinking clearly now?"
The owls voice made Suzie jump and she peered into the darkness, straining to see the bird.
"Where are you?" She asked.
"In the tree where I was before." Replied the owl.
"Have you been there the whole time?"
"Not the whole time, no."
"Oh." Said Suzie. Then, "Owl, I think I understand what you said earlier."
"Good." Said the owl.
"Owl?" Suzie asked tentatively, "Can you take me home please?"
"Yes little one, I can." Replied the owl, and Suzie felt a waft of air as the great bird swooped down from the tree and landed on the ground next her.
Carefully she climbed onto the owl's back, feeling the strong muscles of it's wings and pushing her fingers through the outer feathers into the soft downy ones beneath.
"Hold on." Warned the owl as they took off, soaring through the treetops and bursting into the sky.

 Suzie thought that the night sky, full of twinkling stars above her, and the dark land laid out like a strange map below her, was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. The wind whipped past her face as they soared through the air, dancing with the stars, sailing over the forest towards the smattering of little lights that she knew to be her village. She no longer felt the cold, and she no longer felt afraid.
"I'm sorry I was rude to you before." She whispered into the owl's ear. "Thank you for helping me."

 In what seemed like no time at all they landed softly in Suzie's small back garden and she clambered down off the owl's back.
For a long moment the owl and the girl looked at each other, yellow eyes meeting brown.
"Thank you." Whispered Suzie, and the owl nodded before spreading it's great wings and taking to the sky once more, leaving the little girl behind in the garden.
Suzie smiled to herself as the owl disappeared into the darkness of the night, then she turned and ran through the back door of her cottage and into the open arms of her worried parents.

 And from that day on Suzie felt safe in the knowledge that there was a solution to every problem if only you looked for it, and she made sure to always pay attention to where she was going.

The End

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