Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Owl's Secret -- part 05

The Spring Reception, held each June in the Great Hall, was one of the two social high points of Donegal Academy. Trustees mingled with graduates, teachers and returning alumni. Parents were invited too, and some even came, if they could schedule it. But for most students, it was a time to stay out of the way and sneak off to secret indulgences, as discipline lapsed proportionally to the number of outsiders present on the grounds.

Colleen and Sammy stood to the side of the throng, making their obligatory appearance in the Great Hall. She held his arm, steadying him, as his leg still ached from an accident earlier that day. He stared intently at the wooden owl atop the railing post.

"Don't worry, Sammy," she whispered in his ear, 'I have used a bit of magic to make us invisible."

While his mind wandered from owls to alchemy, Colleen scanned the faces in the room. By old habit she took careful note of the exits as well. A crowded room was a high stress area for both of them. Usually she was the stronger one, but for some reason this evening, she felt weak and vulnerable.

Then her eyes fixed on one person accross the room, a lady speaking to the headmaster. An ancient fear gripped her--could it be? Why was SHE here? Why? So that was it, then. it was all over, her pleasant life in this paradise. She was to be cast, dragged away hell again. The nearset exit was ten feet away. She would be there in seconds. A plan took shape in her head.

Ah! In her fear, she had forgotten about Sammy. Hesitation! She had a long talk with him that afternoon on the ridge. She told him not to worry, that they would be friends forever and that she would never leave him. But now SHE was here! SHE would ruin eveything! It was all over. Colleen bent down to kiss his head and smooth down his unruly hair. Then she pulled away and disappeared out the door.

It took Sammy a while to realize that something was wrong. He was aware that Colleen had left him, but his spirit was much stronger now than it had been that afternoon. Why, she had probably gone to get a snack or to the bathroom. It was all right. She would be back soon.

But after ten minuites, he began to worry. Not the soul-crushing worry he had endured in the past, but a serious, inquisitive concentration. Time to look at the facts. Sammy took a deep breath and swallowed hard. Something in the room had disturbed her, but what specifically? He had no clue. Inadvertantly, his eyes found the wooden owl--and he let out a gasp! The head had moved! The owl was now looking out the door to his left, toward the path which led across the commons to the dormitories.

Without hesitation, Sammy cut through the crowd to the door. The sun was almost at rest, and some students wandered in the twilight. But he did not wander, he made right for the girls' dormitory.

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