(967 words) 21 Feb. 2018
By S.R.A. Markin
It was late, and the young man was restless after a long day of sitting in his room at the computer. He needed some exercise to alleviate his mind. He put on a long sleeve, two thick pairs of socks, sweatpants and a hoodie. He grabbed his worn-out gloves that three fingers stick out of, a water bottle, and toque, and went outside.
The young man had his head down minding his business while walking through the snow. He looked up and was startled to see a small bird. The bird was unlike any bird he has seen, and it sat perched on the gated fence. The bird turned its head towards the young man and looked at him with its large yellow eyes that were outlined in a flat array of light brown feathers.
An owl, the man thought. He got excited and stepped cautiously towards the little bird. The owl seems to be waiting for something as the owl looked down into the heaps of snow.
He must be waiting for mice. There is plenty of bird seed, and god knows what else is around here that dad has left out, the young man said to himself.
The young man steps closer towards the bird, and each step makes a crunching noise on the hard snow. The bird looks at him for a period that makes the man feel as he is bothering the bird.
“Hello, I just want to get past you,” the young man said. “I do not mean to disturb you, but I would like to get into the garage to work out.”
The bird twitches his head looking at the young man and back downward.
“I am sorry, but it has been a long day, and I want to workout.”
His breath steams in the cold air. Maybe I am not supposed to workout today, he had thought. I have been going hard all week.
The young man stands in the snow within arms reach of the little bird who could fit in both hands of the young man.
“Are you stuck?” The young man said. “I hope you are not. I had to help a smaller bird in the summertime who was stuck on a sticky mousepad. I was saddened to see the little thing chirping for help. I had to get gloves, and water to unstick the bird’s feet from the pad,” he explained to the little owl. “But luckily with patients and a little work, the bird flew free.”
The young man inspects the bird’s position to see if maybe the bird is stuck in the wiring.
“You seem to be okay. You sure don’t make any noise.”
The bird continues only to move its head.
I wonder if you are stuck and that is why you do not move your feet, he had thought. The young man approaches even closer being more aware of the noise each step makes. The owl looks at him.
“Are you going to fly away?”
The young man looks around. I hope your mother isn’t nearby, he said to himself. He thought about how large owls can be, and an uncomfortable feeling came over him.
“Such a quiet owl,” he said softly. “Have you caught any mice out here?”
The young man thinks of how he could help the little owl. The snow is piled high. There can’t be many mice out here if any, he thought.
The young man could put his arm up and touch the little owl’s feathers, but he was afraid to bother the owl any further than he already is. I should name the owl. I wonder what a suitable name would be, he thought to himself.
“I will name you Jesse,” he said with a look of enjoyment. “But then, if I name you Jesse you would leave me as she did.”
The young man thought harder about the owl’s name.
“I know, you will be Ashley. Nope. She left too. I don’t want you to end up leaving me, little owl,” he said.
The young man’s look of pleasantness has dropped from his face.
“Do you have any friends, owl?”
The owl looks down as if waiting for a mouse, or even ignoring the young man. The owl must have grown tired of looking at the young man who is inches from the little bird. The young man thinks of rocking the fence.
“I asked you a question,” he said.
The coldness nips at the young man’s toes and fingers. A chill works at the young man’s core as he has been expelling body heat trying to converse with the little owl.
“You are giving me nothing, little owl. I wish to know about you. You seem friendly, but that is nothing but a lie. Like most people, I suspect, you just care about yourself. Your own business. Well, sorry to have bothered you owl, but my business is going to the garage and exercising.”
The young man steps further reaching for the door nob. The owl flys away, straight ahead. The sound of feathers flapping is heard as the young man’s momentary friend leaves. He twists the doorknob making a screeching noise, and the door is heavy to push causing a thunk. The young man flicks on the light, but it has been too cold for the fluorescents to light up. He flicks the light up and down hoping something will happen. Finally, a dim light goes on, and the young man steps into the cold garage to work out and clear his mind. The young man doesn’t forget about the little owl, but he is certain the little owl won’t remember him. They never do, he had thought.