Owl avvie1 copy 14

Winter Galaxy

United States

Half of being a good writer is grammar, and the other half is a healthy mix of patience and insanity. Welcome to my collection of thoughts, the product of sitting in a cozy blanket typing while rain pours outside. Not really, but I wish it was.

Message to Readers

This story is supposed to be surreal and a bit dream-like. Have I accomplished this feeling? It's not supposed to answer all your questions, it is a huge metaphor after all, but did you feel lost or confused too much while reading? Anything you couldn't envision? Did I do a good job of explaining the backstory from previous versions?
Version 4, lots and lots of minor changes.

The Hourglass Cage

June 13, 2015

The owl was attached to a chair, the chain glittering as gold as the creature’s own mad eyes. A needle-point blade sat beside it, the tip as thin as the chain itself.

    Ten years had passed since it took its position by that chair. Ten years since it had felt cool air whistle pass by its wings. The creature wouldn’t fly since then. Not while so many people fixed their eyes upon it, stepping by with caution manifested in fear. No one knew why it didn’t break the delicate bind to the chair when freedom was so close. The cage door was open. It had been imprisoned, each feather that lined its back remaining as still as the stagnant air in the cage. Unmoving. Watching.

    A decade had passed.

    Everyone could see the owl but one girl. One single child, age sixteen, with vivid red hair and electrically blue eyes. Eyes that couldn’t observe what others could. She only saw the rusted blade, sitting on top of an old wooden chair with white peeling paint and an antique glow. Not even a ripple outlined the creature, warping the image around it as one normally thinks of invisible objects. There was simply no evidence of its existence.

    This girl was me. Me. I had thought, for the longest time, that the town had set aside the cage for future use, putting a chair and blade inside of it for some strange storage. I was three and didn't question it much, not before my father had begun explaining what was really there. The idea that there was an owl? An owl, living and breathing and sitting and observing everything around it? Ludicrous.

    I’d seen insanity before. It’d hopped across my lawn in the form of a rabbit with a tophat adorning its head, slithered up a tree with hearts and spades and clubs tattooed on emerald scales. Never had I experienced the eyes that people spoke of, eyes that held the very essence of lunacy trapped within them, mounted on a head of silver feathers.

    Life went on while my wall remained a mixture of framed photos and bullet holes from an encounter long ago, the one that convinced me no one was joking about it. About the golden eyes that glowed in the night like a pair golden moons, about the caged creature that started so many arguments. With the talons sharpened like diamonds glinting through mist.

    Along with the chain... and the knife... and the chair.

    All of the nonsense. Everything in this town was nonsense.

    So now the stars hung in the sky on a moonless night, giving off an eerie luminance which highlighted everything in hues of gray. Colors swirled above unfamiliar silhouettes, among stars and clusters of light and the dark vastness of space. And my blue eyes glowed with the night, caught by the light which I saw in a reflection of myself in water. The water was invisible except for the mirror within it, spanning over the whole pool and displaying the galaxy placed so far above it.

    The trees framed my path. Swaying, groaning, all around me, black lines that branched out from other lines and bent in twisted odd angles. Focusing on a cage in front of me, a sizable glorified birdcage that no one had so much as touched over the years, my feet crunched over leaves that had strayed from the trees a long time ago and piled up among each other. Inside it, a knife, a chair, and a chain that attached to nothing. The door was open, as it had been. Always.

    In the middle of the town square, where the most unusual things are always kept, the cage sat with hinges that hung at irregular angles. A breeze sailed lazily through the air, uninterrupted by anything but the fragile chair worn down by age. A moment’s hesitation passed before I stepped inside, my hands passing the iron bars' border, followed by the rest of my body. Locking me inside.

    Memories flooded into me at that moment, as the cage flashed by day and night and cold winds and warm breezes and people passed by at the same time. The square was filled with blurred colors as people walked by, simultaneously going the pace of a snail. Layers and layers of days and months, all happening at once, breaking the fabric of time and the very existence of moments. A hoot sounded behind me, the only thing that made sense in the crack of spacetime that I was standing inside of.

    Hooo...

    Behind me, of course, nothing was there. Nothing I could see. But the owl was there, and the sound had relinquished hope - It was possible. And as the sun flashed by and disappeared in the middle of the sky, replaced by an eclipse that dissolved just as quickly, my hands tightened on the rusty blade. I closed my eyes. It was easier to envision things that way. To piece together distant memories buried in the back of my brain, beneath all the thoughts that had been active for the last ten years.

    A bang sounded from the living room. Followed by the next, and another yet. The unmistakable sound that interrupted my day of gazing out the window to the oddities outside and thinking of all the new possibilities after my sixth birthday had passed. My father’s shotgun had gone missing from his usual resting place.

    My hands clenched tighter, knuckles turning white on the red-flaked metal. A tear emerged from the soil and flew up on my face, trailing into my eye before dropping back down. My eyelids stayed intently shut.

    I walked into the room, where misshapen metal bullet shells already decorated the walls. The sounds continued on after an elongated burst of silence, one bang after the next. I looked up just in time to see a silver feather disappear through the window. “Get back in here!” the man screamed at the feather through unmoving lips. Unmoving lips. A dysfunctionality of my memory, which had warped with age. A gash spread across the man's forehead, my father, dripping with blood that shone scarlet in the midday light. His shotgun was pointed upwards, though his fingers had wandered from the trigger.

    I was a carefree six-year-old – that incident barely had me shaken after I'd slept it off. I don't think I understood, which was what protected me. I was the only child in the town, in fact. Before I had turned six, that owl had been our town's prize. A trophy. Something wonderful that we had found and added to our pedestal of lifeless unusual objects. Except this owl, unlike anything we'd had before, was alive. No one paid much attention to its actual state of mind except my father, who observed its once lively eyes grow steadily more maddened. He'd always tell me about it as soon as I was old enough to understand his ramblings, knowing the creature was invisible to me, knowing how important it was for me to hear about it. But I never paid much attention. I'd thought it was all a joke he was playing.

And then it had lashed out. Broken from its foolproof container, a thing we called the Hourglass Cage. On my birthday, no less, it'd flown into our house, attacking the person I knew best. Showing a single silver feather to me as horror filled my racing heart like a dagger. And since then, since the owl became a token of fear rather than pride, I'd grown to understand. After years, I'd grown to understand what it wanted after it settled back down into the cage it was now obliged to, the cage it was now connected to. Invisible to me yet again, because I was only a small child and wasn't bound by the fear. It was asking for freedom. A desperate cry for freedom. And I was the only one who could free it. I was a young girl whom reality hadn't preyed on yet, who was oblivious to the stress of life.

    And following that incident ten years ago, I'd called this owl Time.

    My eyes flickered open. They located the chain, attached to nothing, trailing over the ground like a golden snake. I struck it with the needle-tipped blade, breaking the bond.

    It broke in two, no protest.

    And in one swift movement, an explosion that made no impact, that happened in only a split second and an hour as one, the owl emerged from the thin air. Broken wings, torment from the townspeople, mended.

    And in a flash of silver, Time flew away from its real prison. One might call it reality, another a cage forged by men’s own unaware hands. But the phrase had been hidden amongst ourselves for quite some time now.

    Time flies.

    And the night continued.


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