The House of the Seventh Minuet XXVII

Urdu – ساتویں منٹ کا گھر

I was barely halfway through the movie when it became difficult to keep my eyes open. I’d had my fill of pizza, plus some cherries as my dessert. As much as I wanted to watch the entire movie before going to bed, I was close to falling asleep on the couch, so I got up while I still could and tidied up the most important things before heading upstairs. I was asleep long before my mind could start wandering to anything else.

The next time my eyes opened, it was pitch black in the room. The wind was blowing outside, and a couple tree branches were hitting the house. Then I heard a particular scratching on the glass; it wasn’t random, but it was persistent. And familiar. I slid out of bed, past the curtains of the four-poster bed, and over to one of the windows.

“You again,” I muttered when I peeked outside. I shook my head, but even so I opened the window slightly. “It’s starting to smell like rain out there; you might as well come in.”

The owl hooted at me and wasted no time in hopping over the window sill into my room. I sealed the window back up and plopped into the nearest armchair. The owl flew over and perched on an arm rest.

“What did you do while I was visiting my friends?” I asked the owl through a yawn. “The way you were clawing at my window makes it seem like you can’t stand to be away from me.”

The owl hooted and cooed, and I yawned again.

“Okay… okay, I need to get back to sleep.” I stood up and started shuffling back to bed. I was wondering what the owl wanted to be called, because I didn’t want to name it like I would a pet. I hadn’t had a pet in a long time, and I wasn’t ready to have one so soon after moving. “Ugh, my mind is wandering again.”

I slipped back between the curtains and under my blanket. The owl followed me. It nestled into the pillow next to mine, fluffing its feathers as it made itself comfortable.

“Sure…” I mumbled sleepily. “You’re supposed to be nocturnal, but you came to bed with me. Whatever, I’m not going to argue. Just let me get in a few good hours of sleep.”

The owl hooted again, closing its eyes contentedly as I drifted back off into dreams.

I have no idea what I dreamed that night, but It can’t have been bad at all; I woke up feeling refreshed and peaceful. It was a nice feeling, really. I sat up and stretched, then looked over at the other pillow. The owl wasn’t there. Just before I started to wonder whether I’d dreamt about the owl wanting to come inside, I noticed a small brown feather among the indentations on the pillow.

“I guess it didn’t plan on watching me sleep all night,” I said to myself.

With a shrug, I slid out of bed and headed to the bathroom to take care of my morning routine. After that, I headed down to the kitchen to decide what to have for breakfast, and found the owl perched on the window sill, staring outside.

“See any good-looking mice out there?” I asked it.

The owl turned its head around and hooted at me.

“Well, you must not be too hungry if you’re not scratching at the window to get out.” I grabbed a Citrus Drop from the fridge and sat down near it.

It was cool and misty outside; it may have rained last night, and would probably rain again soon.

“Well, owl, I have a lot of work to get done today, and you’re probably about ready to get some sleep.”

It hooted again, hopping to turn around and face me better.

“You’re cute,” I told it, “but I have to get something to eat and get to writing.”

I got out of my chair and headed over to the pantry. While I was trying to decide which cereal to eat, the owl flew over to the top of the fridge. It hooted a few times, but I was too busy humming a song to talk to it right away. It hooted again, and when I still didn’t respond, it made a sort of screeching sound.

“What are you doing up there?” I asked it as I set a cereal box on the counter and went to get a bowl and spoon.

The owl started clawing at something up there and flapping its wings.

“You’re not stuck on anything, are you?”

It scratched again, and I realized that it was clawing at the wooden box I’d set up there. I pulled the box down and set it on the kitchen counter.

“Come on, this is a nice box,” I told it, but it still pulled at the box’s leather straps. “Here, I’ll show you what’s inside; there’s nothing special.”

I opened the box to show the owl the collection of papers and spare keys. It flapped its wings wildly and started rifling through things with its feet, hooting at me when I tried to shoo it away. I sighed and sat down to have my cereal.

“You’re the strangest owl I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

I left it to its own devices while I ate, satisfied that it didn’t seem interested in ripping the papers. After a few moments, I was lost in thought, mentally listing out what I wanted to get done that day. That was when something cold and metallic fell on my hand. I dropped my spoon, and nearly dropped the item into my cereal.

“What are you doing?” I grumbled at the owl.

It looked at me and cooed.

“Being cute will only get you so far,” I warned it. Then I looked down at what it had dropped on me: the key on the number seven keychain– the one I wasn’t sure about the purpose of. “I thought it was crows who liked shiny things, not so much owls.”

The owl hooted some more and tapped the key with its beak.

“Tell you what, I’ll hold onto this key if it’ll make you happy,” I told it as I slipped the keychain into my pocket. “But I still have work to do today, so I’m going to let you out, and you can find a tree to rest in.”

Once I was done eating, I opened the kitchen window just long enough for the owl to go out, and off it went. I considered leaving the window open to let the fresh mountain air fill the house, but I decided against it in case the rain came down hard later and I couldn’t come downstairs right away to close it. It was just as easy to open a couple upstairs windows and get the same effect.

For a moment, I wondered how far the owl’s nest was from my home, but I really didn’t have time to think about it very much. I headed over to my desk and got down to work. I think the weekend had done more to energize me than I first realized. Without any distractions, and with the good mood I was in, I actually managed to get a lot done before lunchtime. I was able to review and submit a couple assignments, and then I was able to pick up a couple more from my work’s website.

Since I work from home, I could take lunch when I was actually hungry, rather than at a set time. I kept it simple and warmed up some macaroni and cheese, then made myself a small salad. I pulled the number seven key out of my pocket and looked it over while I ate.

“I wonder why the owl wanted me to have this so bad. I shook my head and said to myself, “What am I thinking? An owl isn’t going to willfully give me a keychain to hold.”

I ended up putting the key back into the box when I was done eating; there was really no reason for me to hang on to it, and I didn’t want to risk losing it. I wasn’t going to let a strange dream and a friendly owl make me do otherwise.

After lunch, I got back to work. I had research to do, some documents to start the framework on– plus, I wanted to work on a couple of my own stories. It was a nice way to wrap up the day, writing fantastical stories rather than just working, working, working. I checked my work messages one more time before logging out, then decided to spend some time away from my desk. Really, I would have been content to keep writing my fantasy story, but I had to remind myself that time away from the desk now would help me avoid burnout by the end of the week.

I headed back down to my designated lounge room and went about finishing the setup of my multiple consoles. Now that I had the HDMI cable Stefan had given me, I could make use of my hub. One by one, I got them turned on and updated their network settings. I couldn’t decide what to play first, so I messaged Stefan, Killian, and Larsa to see if anyone was available online; maybe we could play something together.

Larsa is in class for another hour or so, Killian sent back to me.

Stefan hadn’t replied yet, so I figured he was still at work.

Oh, I know what Larsa would have fun with! I told Killian. We should play some “Little Big Planet.” I have a couple levels that would be easier to beat with a group working on them.

Actually, he might really get a kick out of that game, Killian replied. But I doubt we’ll be able to play together tonight.

Whhaaatttttt? Why not?

Because I’m going to have to teach him how to play and give him time to practice.

You mean he’s never played the game before?! I was flabbergasted. He’s adorable, the game is adorable. Come on, Killian, you know they belong together!

I agree with you, Leila, he replied, but you have to cut me some slack here. Larsa has to keep his GPA up, and he’s really conscientious about studying.

Oh wow, you’re starting to make me feel guilty. And really, I meant that. I wasn’t being sarcastic. I should have asked him more about his studies while I was there.

Don’t stress about it, he reassured me. You still have plenty of time to text him and ask him about it.

We chatted for a little while longer, and then I decided to play a game on my own. The rest of the day went on pretty normally. I would have taken a walk in the woods nearby, but there was a light rain coming down, so I stayed inside. I got some reading done, had some dinner, and later just generally explored the house.

Stefan messaged me when it was starting to get late. We logged onto an MMO that neither of us had played for a while and decided to try our luck at getting back into it. Either way, it was nice to have something to do together, and to be able to talk online.

“Hey, that owl looks like the one that’s been following me around the house,” I said as I pointed out an owl that was up in the branches in the game.

“That one you let in the other night is back again?” he asked.

“It was,” I told him. “It was pretty insistent about coming in last night, and I let it out this morning.”

Stefan didn’t say anything right away. I heard him sigh, and he must have been thinking. Eventually he said, “Just be careful, Leila.”

“Be careful around an owl?” I asked him.

“You really can’t take them for granted,” he told me. “They’re beautiful birds, but their claws are no joke.”

“Well, this is the friendliest owl I’ve ever met.”

“Friendly or not, don’t forget what I told you about their symbolism. Come on let’s go complete this kobold quest before I have to get to bed.”

Once he had to go– reluctant though he was, but he has to work the next morning– I spent some time surfing the web before I decided I should call it a night too. I think I lost track of time though, because right as I was changing into my nightgown and getting ready to brush my teeth, I heard the clock chiming. I counted eleven, and thought that would be it, and was about to congratulate myself for not overdoing it when I heard the 12th chime. Actually, I almost didn’t hear it over the wind that was picking up outside. I glanced out the window above the front door, then back to the hallway just in time to see a golden glint at the end of the hall.

A fairly common minuet for your listening pleasure:

About Legends of Lorata

Eleanor Willow is the author of the high fantasy series Legends of Lorata, which takes place on a medieval-style world filled with elves, dragons, and faeries. There is also a fourth race, one that is rare and magical: the angelic Starr. Lorata is a distant planet watched over by four deities: good, evil, elemental, and celestial-- and there are plenty of legends about them all! One of the most important ones is the prophecy of Jenh's champion, Loracaz, who is promised to return to the realm whenever evil threatens to take hold. There are currently three books completed, and the first one can be read online. Book four is currently being written, and a fifth will most likely be in the future.
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