I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. My phone conversation with Killian had me excited. Stefan was as good with DJ equipment as he was with his oboe and classical music; I was really happy for him to hear that he was headlining at one of their favorite clubs. Actually, I was also feeling a little guilty about not seeing Stefan before making the drive up to the house. We’d had a day arranged, but then he’d called to reschedule, and instead of picking another day, I’d said I was busy getting things together for the move, and would have to cancel. I wasn’t rude about it, and he didn’t sound angry, but I still wished I’d made time to see him. Before that, he’d been busy with road trips for concerts, so I really hadn’t seen him for a few months.
Killian told me that’s just how adult life is, that we were lucky to have gone to college together, and that since we’d graduated and started working our respective careers, I shouldn’t beat myself up over anything. Not beat myself up? Okay, check. But I was losing sleep over it. It was going to be harder for the guys to make the drive to visit me now that I lived in the mountains; I would have to take a trip down to see them, and thankfully I was almost done with the things that had up-coming deadlines.
It was Thursday night. I could drive down to Killian’s apartment in Beaverton tomorrow afternoon; he was always a great host, and his fold-out couch bed was actually comfortable, so that was a relief. We could hang out Friday evening, maybe convince Stefan to some over, and then go to the Club Nightshadow on Saturday. Stefan would be able to get us in early as his VIP guests, and he might let us help him set up. He took really good care of his equipment, which made him particular about who moved it, and not all the clubs had workers who were on the same page as him. I could come back to the house on Sunday and get back to working on the piece that had a deadline for late next week.
Still, I had something due Monday, and I didn’t want to risk not getting it done, so tonight was my night. It mostly needed polishing, anyway. I just had to stay focused. It didn’t help that Stefan was online. And not marked as busy. And he was messaging me.
Don’t you work nights? I messaged him.
Sometimes. It’s not like you’re asleep. He replied
I’m working late.
Yeah, Killian said you were going to put the pedal to the metal on some work so you could come see us.
I was trying to, but I keep getting distracted
Should have marked yourself as busy. Need me to take a hike?
Nah… It’s not you. My mind’s been wandering.
Is that house going bump in the night? Is the wind moaning through the trees.
Very funny, Stefan. No– hang on, there’s an owl outside.
I got up and went to the window. Sure enough, there was an owl perched on the window sill, hooting and scratching at the glass. I unlatch the window and opened it slightly.
“What’s wrong?” I asked it. “You’re a bit big to be upset by a little wind.”
It was really windy that night; I wasn’t sure if it was going to rain soon. The owl hooted at me again.
“Wow, you’re really pretty.” I admired the owl’s bright amber eyes and claws that shone like gold. Its feathers were a mix of foresty browns and blacks. “I’d offer you something to eat, but I think Morrigan’s house is too nice to have any mice.” I chuckled to myself at the unintentional rhyme.
With more hooting– this tome it was almost cooing– the owl flew past my head and into the room. It landed on the desk and peered at the monitor, hooting at it curiously.
“If you could read, I’m sure you’d like the article I’m working on,” I said as I crossed the room. The owl didn’t look like it was in a hurry to leave, and I wasn’t one to chase away harmless animals– though I left the window open so as not to deny it the opportunity. I sank down into the comfortable, plush desk chair. “It’s about ecological responsibility.”
I looked at the screen and saw a message from Stefan.
Oh, owls are incredible animals!
Of course he’d think that. He practically took Norse mythology literally. Though to his credit, he also believed in Celtic mythology; in his words, they weren’t mutually exclusive. Neither were Native American beliefs, nor the Greek or Roman gods, nor the Hindu deities…
Can I see it?
I shook my head at the message.
You just want me to turn on my webcam.
Or you could send a picture from your phone.
I sighed. It would be easier to just turn on the webcam. I reached over, tilted the camera towards the owl, and turned on the switch. The picture-in-picture appeared on the screen, and I could see Stefan sitting in a dark room with a blanket pulled around himself.
“Wait, you let it in?” I hear him ask through the speakers.
“It wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” I replied.
The owl hooted, and I could see Stefan grin. He pushed a lock of long blond hair behind his ear. How he managed to not entangle that hair in all his piercings, I’ll never understand. Stefan was a blend of Viking and metal-head and goth– but when he cleaned up for something formal, you’d hardly know it. He could look like a prince if he tried hard enough. Or a count, as he preferred to say.
“That’s a gorgeous owl,” he said. I saw him leaning in closer. “I think it’s a great horned owl.”
“It looks like it,” I agreed, eying the horn-shaped tufts of feathers on its head.
“Looks like you’ve made a friend, Leila,” Stefan said with a laugh. The owl hooted at him.
“Good thing I like owls.”
The wind began to pick up outside. The window slammed shut, and I tried not to jump out of my seat. Then the chiming came in from the hall. I saw Stefan take a drink from his cup and look over at the wall.
“Midnight already,” he noted.
“Yeah…” I glanced out into the hall. I was expecting something to look different, something golden, but it was just as dark as always, the same wood I’m seen earlier.
“What’s up?” Stefan asked. “Hey, where–”
But I’d already gotten up from my chair. I heard him sigh as I stepped out of the room. I glanced down the hall towards the library, but still nothing looked different. It seemed to be lit up the night before. Had I only been dreaming? Or maybe the house didn’t change every night…
When I got back to the computer, the owl and Stefan where hooting at each other. “Be careful what you say to it; it might think you’re trying to send a message to the underworld.”
Stefan chuckled and sat back in his chair. “That would be pretty cool.”
“You would think something like that.”
We ended up talking for a little while longer before I left Stefan to his own devices. I needed to get some sleep if I was going to make a long drive the next day. I opened the window and tried letting the owl out, but it only looked at me curiously. Then it followed me to the bedroom. I gave it another chance to fly out into the night, but it perched on my nightstand and snuggled into its own feathers.
“Okay…” I sighed as I climbed into bed. “But if you need out, don’t scratch me to wake me up, okay?”
I like the feel of this song for this installment. Staying up late at night, taking it easy… and of course an owl reference.