The Owl

The Screecher released an ear-splitting scream as he flew toward the snow-covered mountain where she stood, shivering, in front of a giant snow owl.

They were a thousand feet above sea level, on the peak of Mount Chard. She looked down and saw the curves of the Solas River, snaking its way through the tree-lined valley below.

“How did I get here?” she asked, as she brushed a white feather from her shoulder.

“How did you get here?” asked the owl, its yellow eyes sparkling.

She looked around. The peak was about twelve feet wide and bounded by sheer cliffs.

“I didn’t climb here,” she said.

“You didn’t climb here,” the owl replied.

The Screecher screamed again, louder. He sounded hungry.

“Did you bring me here?” she asked.

“Did I bring you here?” asked the owl, cocking its head slightly to the right and pulling on a patch of matted white fluff with its sharp, curved beak.

“Help me, please. I need answers not questions!” she screamed. The force of her breath blew several loose feathers from the bird’s beak. The owl’s eyes narrowed, and its head sank deep into its neck.

“Questions for questions, answers for answers!” the owl replied.

She could see the Screecher approaching in the north sky, his dark body silhouetted against the sun.

“Answers for answers . . . what do you mean? If I had the answers, I wouldn’t ask the questions!”

The owl tilted its beak up and opened it slightly. “If you already know the answers, you don’t have to ask the questions.”

The Screecher was now only a few thousand feet away, beating his wings furiously. Sunlight sparkled on his silver talons.

“I already know the answers?” she asked.

“You already know the answers,” the owl replied, as it walked to the south edge of the peak, spread its wings and jumped. She watched it glide gracefully down into the valley.

The Screecher cried out again and quickened his pace.

She walked to the precipice and looked at the flowing river below, then closed her eyes. She extended one foot over the edge and stepped off the cliff. The Screecher’s talons scraped the top of the peak as she fell into the valley and opened her wings.

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