I lead a simple life on the Olympic Peninsula running Moonchild Owl Haven, a bird sanctuary for sick and injured owls.
When I’m not doing that? I work a regular shift at the animal hospital fulfilling my day job.
Life is pretty great, what with my best friend Charlie coming around daily to help with my fly babies, but it’s also lonely. I mean, Charlie is old enough to be my grandad and the only other man in my life? A not even legal teen that’s like a younger brother.
Meeting people out here in the sticks is tough. Tougher still for a girl like me who can’t string two words together without stuttering so bad she can’t be understood. For the most part I’m okay with that, but sometimes I wish I could do away with my whiteboard and just tell people how it is, what I’m feeling…
After all, a man wants someone he can talk with, not just someone he can talk at.
At least that’s what I’ve been told…
I am older than time… A god amongst men…
No really, that’s not just me being arrogant. I really am the descendant of two gods.
Half cursed by my father’s uncle because of my mother’s betrayal, I can change from human to owl at will. It’s a lonely existence for the most part, I can only stay someplace until my lack of aging becomes a problem. So I wander, never staying anyplace longer than a few months and spending almost as much time in the freedom of my owl’s form than in my human one.
So who would have thought, that after centuries upon centuries of living I would find myself a broken and bleeding pile of feathers in the middle of a modern highway?
Who also would have thought that this would be the end of my self imposed solitude when she came, plucking me off the asphalt, carefully putting me back together.
She saved my life, and after weeks of being under her care… Watching her move silent and alluring between myself and the rest of her charges…
Well, I just had to know everything about her.
She was somber tonight as she moved about the barn. The old man had stopped his banging and sawing outside and there had been a long stretch of quiet. Not silence; nothing was ever truly silent, when there was so much for my kind to hear.
She had come in after his old truck had crunched up the gravel drive, her shoulders stooped; the weight of unpleasant memories upon her. She’d set about feeding her charges.
She stopped before me, her storm-clouded eyes heavy with emotion, brimming with barely-suppressed tears, and I hated it.
I longed to be a comfort to her, to care for her the way she had, and continued to, care for me.
She sighed and, safe in her perceived solitude, spoke.
“N-n-n-o on-ne wants a broken woman they can-n-n’t talk with, do they Hun-nn-ter?” she asked softly. The heartbreak on her face unmistakable.
I wanted to hurt whoever put it there, to rend their flesh with my talons sending them bloody and shrieking into the night. I blinked slowly and gazed into the storm-swept sea of her eyes, willing her to understand my thoughts, my feelings.
I thought, for a moment, something might be there, but then she turned and wandered away from me, and I felt bereft of her company. For weeks now, I had watched her move throughout this barn, this haven of hers, watched her smile, watched as she gave freely of herself to me, to my fellow winged brethren…
I shifted from foot to foot, my talons scoring the wood of my perch, and hunched my shoulders.
She made me want to be a part of her world again.
“Hunter!” Aaron called and I heard the thud of boots on the carpeted stairs.
He appeared in the door way, the breadth of his shoulders imposing. He wore a deep green tank top today, tucked into faded and stained blue jeans. A brown leather belt with a round disc for a buckle held his pants securely to his hips. The buckle was an elaborate knotwork design. I couldn’t remember the exact name of it, but I think it was Irish or something. His hair was pulled into a tangled ponytail and remained reminiscent of his feathers, a light brown shot through with streaks of white.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
I hurt everywhere and slept all day. I wrote.
Hunter’s full lips quirked up on one side.
“After last night, you earned it, love.” His voice was melodic and held an accent that was decidedly close to English, but not quite.
Are you British?
He laughed. “Welsh,” he affirmed his nationality, then sighed. “You look a sight. Let’s get you in a shower and into some of your own clothes. Aaron, help Charlie outside?” He looked to the much younger man who nodded, his eyes wide and fixed on me.
Do I look that bad?
“Yeah, and then some, Jess.” Aaron answered honestly. “I’d hug you, but I don’t know if I’d hurt you.” He backed out of the room and I heard his cascading footsteps as he went down the stairs.
I stood up and it was a bit too quickly. I waited for the vertigo to pass and faced Hunter.
Are you some kind of were-owl or something?
He laughed again.
He crossed his arms over his chest and the play of muscle beneath his skin made heat curl low in my body. I closed my eyes and shambled into my bathroom slowly.
Text Copyright © 2018 Timber Philips
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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