The Day of Night
Mechanical and rigid as the time keepers of the long forgotten Others, the Sun, Earth, and Moon in their paths repeat their patterns endlessly until the end of time. These patterns, although separate and unique, occasionally find common ground and overlap. Legends abound in the owl kingdoms where the Earth steals the magen of the Moon during Lunar Eclipses and entrusts the light and its magen to the owls hatched on the night. In the same way the Earth robs the Moon of its light, so does the Moon to the Earth. Darkness befalls the Earth as the moon devours the sun, leaving a golden ring where the sun once was.
A Barn owl perched outside his hollow remembered the words of his father as he now found himself a part of the legend. Snuggling up to his right side was his mate, Windy, known also as Windy and to his left was their young son, Flint. In most cases, the family would have been sleeping at this time of day; however, this day was different. The Day of Night, as called by certain owls, is enough motivation for the mid day escapade.
The family of three and a egg resided in a snug hollow with a spaciously wide limb conveniently growing out just below the rim of the hollow's opening. Located high in a fir tree, the farthermost reaches of the branch provided a wide view of the sky through the dark green needles of the evergreen. There, the three owls were perched.
"It seems like such a long time ago when I first heard the legend from my parents." The owl named Mercury reminisced looking up at the moon now just its own width away from the sun. He lightly leaned his head against the head of Windy, also tucking his half fledged son under his left wing.
Windy churred and smiled. She bent over and affectionately nudged Flint on the wing and began to preen his half grown flight feathers.
"Mum," Flint protested as he pulled back a little.
She and Mercury churred and the family began waiting for the moon to come between the Earth and sun.
"I wish our youngest had hatched out in time to see the Day of Night." Mercury sighed and turned his head around to look into the hollow containing a single egg. The sunlight was shining in on the small, cream white egg nestled in a soft nest of down plucked from under the parents' breast feathers. "The little one is so close to hatching... but just not yet."
Flint looked up through his father's wing and torso. "Why did you have to go get another chick?" Little Flint asked.
"No, no. It's not like that." Mercury comforted his young son, taking the very tip of his brown wingtip and wiping a tear from his son's eyes. "I would have no one else but you with me."
Windy, bending down to eye level with Flint and, poking her head around Mercury's chest close to Flint, added with love, "You are so special to us. Don't ever forget that. You are so smart, and I must say, handsome too."
Flint smiled, "Thank you Mum, Da" Appeased by his parents' comforting words.
Squinting, he looked back up at the sun with his parents to see how close the moon was. It was only half its width away from the sun now.
"Now remember, don't look at it. You will need those eyes of yours for many years." Mercury reminded Flint.
Flint immediately closed his eyes but opened them after a few seconds when he herd a small movement behind him. His parents had apparently heard the sound too, as they both had already turned their heads around facing the hollow.
"The egg, it moved!" Flint exclaimed, hop stepping down the length of the limb over to the hollow opening, his parents close behind.
Resting in its white pile of down, the egg quivered as Mercury and Windy entered into the hollow. Flint tapped the egg on the top with one of his talons and quietly listened. A loud rap emanated from the exact location he had tapped the egg.
"There really is something in there!" Flint's eyes were wide open with awe as he looked at his parents standing over him and the egg.
"Yes there is," Windy informed.
Looking on with great pride at his son and hatching chick, Mercury stated "And you, like every other bird, came from one of these miraculous, Glaux given, eggs."
To the senses of owls, every slight movement and sound was like an earthquake in intensity. Slowly, over a period of a few minutes, the light tapping evolved into a thunderous knocking that resonated throughout the entire shell.
Mercury and Windy's attentions were consumed entirely by the hatching; however, Flint, although interested, occasionally would quickly check how close the moon and sun were getting. He had just turned his head and was looking at the now touching sun and moon through the tree's needles when a sharp crack came from the egg. He excitedly whipped his focus from the eclipse to the hatching.
"Its our little one's beak!" Windy gasped with pure joy and affection, crooning over the egg with Mercury.
When Flint first saw the minuscule glimpse of his sibling's beak breaking through the perfect white surface, he too was filled with excitement, but a worrisome feeling entered his gizzard. It was just a fleeting feeling, not actual words, but it was one of worry over what this sibling might bring? How much of his parents' attention will it take?The feeling passed before Flint even realized he felt it, though deep in his mind, the worry still existed.
Time came to a halt for the family watching the egg. Each nudge, every tap from within, was exhilarating like nothing else. Soon the beak disappeared, then reappeared when it poked through another point on the shell. The process was repeated several times, resulting in a circular ring of holes breaking the smooth surface around a large circumference of the egg.
"It's about to come." Mercury was quivering with excitement.
A darkness like that of night had been falling over the hollow as the light shining in from the sun was cut off by the eclipsing moon. But there came a point where the sun's rays were suddenly blocked completely and the hollow was plunged into darkness.
Startled, Flint jerked around to see the moon fully taking its place between the world and the sun. Speckling the daytime sky were stars and constellations that he had never observed before, but the centerpiece was a brilliant white halo of light surrounding a dark void hovering where the sun once was. At the exact moment that the moon was in perfect alignment with the sun, a shattering crack reverberated throughout the hollow.
Flint quickly turned from peering out the hollow to look back at the hatching egg, but became disoriented for a several moments at what he saw. Like the sun and moon outside, inside the hollow was a ring of white surrounding a dark void. A stunned gasp let out by his parents filled the hollow.
Flint blinked; his eyes were still not adjusted to the darkness yet. A few seconds passed before he realized what he was seeing. Inside the now split egg was a chick. A black Barn owl chick.
Using the last of its energy, the ebony skinned creature tumbled out on hollow floor, her closed eyes bulging and her head weakly weaving about in the air as she strained against gravity to hold it up.
Dead silence filled the hollow with only the family's beating hearts to be heard. Mercury's father had once spoken of a ancient story of a black Barn owl. It was considered to have been descendant of haggish, evil blood and in the tale committed unspeakable crimes against all types of living creatures. Mercury had always imagined the tale to be one that parents devised to scare chicks and fledglings into sleep. But now its words rang painfully deep in his gizzard, shredding it between the simultaneous fear and love he felt for his chick.
Windy was the first to break the silence. Stooping down to where she was nearly flat with the hollow's floor, Windy gently rubbed the little chick's tiny head with her own. With wavering words, she uttered, "Hello... my little one."