This story is by Jamee Hopkins and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
In the corner of a freshly painted room, a newly purchased wooden rocking chair was where he was carefully placed. His fur bright white and velvet soft; which made his jet black eyes pop and gleam with wisdom. Once settled in his new seat, the infant surroundings gave away the room’s purpose. Next to the crib was a variety of other stuffed things and alongside them an assortment of folded blankets decorated in flowers.
For weeks he stayed stiffly perched in this soft pink room gazing out the window while he watched the scenery turn white. Every day was the same as the last, but one late evening he heard an unfamiliar sound approach the door. A young mother with a crying infant slowly swayed their way into his view. In her arms, a tightly wrapped bundle squirmed and squeaked, until gradually the voice quieted and was hesitantly laid in her crib.
“I love you sweet girl, sleep tight…” was faintly heard from the new mom as she backed her way out, stopping once before creaking the door shut. That is when he saw her.
Even in dim light he could make out her soft brown curls and sweet innocent face still flushed from earlier. He intently watched while her small wrinkly fingers played with her ear; while the other set found its way to her puckered lips, hiding her thumb.
His chest ached at the sight of this precious little girl who slept soundly just feet away. What he wouldn’t give to be snug in her arms. But for now he was stuck on his chair, and his daydreaming of laughter and play with his girl turned into his sweetest dreams. Before he knew it however, he was startled by her loud cries and deep gasps for air. In no time her mother came running in and swooped his girl out of sight, but shortly returned with her quietly being occupied with a bottle. In one swift action, her mother picked him up and placed him on her lap facing his girl. They both lovingly watched her doze off as they slowly rocked. He hoped it wouldn’t end, but soon he was set back in his usual spot and she was laid back down. This time it was with a little less hesitation.
Weeks, then months passed with a similar routine. And as they did her curls grew longer and her hands less clumsy. He observed while her stationery little body transitioned into a crawling and eventually upright young toddler. She would stand by the chair and reach for his shiny eyes and tug at his beak, but still seemed unsure of the white creature that stared at her all day. He was well aware he looked unlike anything else she had to play with. But there always seemed to be a trail of drool left behind that was a reminder of her growing curiosity of him. Even at a distance and in his now blurred vision, he could see his girl’s eyes were showing their true emerald green color. All the while he would sit on his chair and watch, and wait. Every now and then she’d miss to catch herself, but he was sure to always leave his wing out just enough to guard her sweet face from kissing the chair.
However it seemed the more she learned, the more she was away. The chair made him just tall enough to give him a view of the family’s hill where they regularly played with his girl. On it sat a tall maple, which held a small swing on its lowest branch. Usually she’d stumble up the hill and eventually roll herself down on the gentle earth. But the grass was now covered in shades of burnt orange and fiery red flakes leaving the once full tree standing naked. And instead of simply rolling around, the young family would pile the leaves and quickly toss her right in the middle where she seemed to gladly disappear. They would promptly uncover her, revealing her rosy cheeks and smiling face. Oh how he loved everything she loved, despite it almost never consisting of him.
Seasons changed once again and it brought a plethora of toys that filled her room, none of which joined him on his chair. She had toys that laughed, beeped, sang her lullabies and squeaked. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t do any of those things. But one by one she would play with for a while, then toss it to the side and grab another. Every now and then she’d glance up at him with her usual curiosity, and then continue on her task. Before long, every toy was gone through and after a while there was little interest in any of them. Most would leave as rapidly as they arrived. For a short time they made her beam with joy and laughter, and for now that was enough. The others saw him as lonesome, but he simply sat smiling at only the thought of his girl.
The years seemed to be passing quicker than he could count. The once short curls now fell past her shoulders, and her porcelain skin exposed soft freckles. Her room now held a small cradle attached to her very own rocking chair. Roughly a dozen baby dolls, each with a lovely name, were packed tightly all clothed in fine silk dresses and bonnets. She would change, feed and rock them, to which he fondly remembered her mother doing with her. On occasion she would dress in her leotard, pull her hair tightly up in a bun, and take a doll with her. Every time, she would pause and glance at his patient eyes before leaving him once again.
Finally she grew tired of bringing the same dolls and begged for something different. After her fit, she barged into the room explaining to her mother how she didn’t have any new dolls to bring. Her mother scanned the room, and stopped when she saw the kind owl.
“How about you bring this one? I don’t think you’ve even played with him.”
She picked him up and suggestively handed him over to her young and mildly disappointed ballerina. The owl put on his best face, hoping he’d be brought with on her unknown adventure. She buffed out the blur on his eyes, and stared for a minute before giving a slight grin and agreed on taking him.
Being carried just by his wing she dragged him along and tediously positioned him, facing her of course, inside the bike basket next to her ballet shoes.
As she started to peddle down the sidewalk, she began sternly explaining their afternoon. He was to be a good guest watching her practice her spins and twirls, and clap after she finished. But in her detailed instructions and periodic glances at him, she lost focus on her speed. Her chatter came to a screaming halt as her tires locked hitting a raised crack in the sidewalk. As it hit, her small bike became a catapult. While being lunged forward over the handle bars, the owl quickly reacted and wrapped himself tightly around her head. A sharp rusted edge of a fire hydrant was the only thing that stood in their path to the cement. When the commotion stopped, he loosened his wings to find his girl safe. Meanwhile, he relaxed torn and dirty, and sure he wouldn’t get a second glance again. He faded as he heard a kind voice offer to help his girl back home.
The next thing he remembers, he was being held and rocking back and forth in her rocking chair. “It’s okay Mr. Owl, mommy said your stitches give you character,” she kindly whispered while petting his head, “I love you.”
Years passed, and the owl’s bright white fur turned yellow with wear. He had the benefit of many adventures. They went on road trips, play dates, had meals at the kitchen table, and he was even tossed into leaf piles on several occasions. He battled monsters, bad dreams and comforted her whenever she fell ill. But similar to many childlike things, they are for children, and children all too soon grow up. So when he was packed away one day with a handful of other play things, he looked back on his treasured memories and smiled. For this was the end of her need for him, but he’d continue to dream of the love he would always have for his girl.
Until one day…
In the corner of a freshly painted room, a worn down wooden rocking chair was where he was carefully placed. His fur dull and worn in spots, but his eyes still showed his wisdom. Outside the trees were tinged with shades of red, he could almost feel the crispy leaves stuck under his wing again. Then a young mother with long brown curls and emerald green eyes brought in her crying infant, snuggled in a soft pink blanket.