Set Up Option A: Investigate the Woods

Forest Trail

(Read the first part of this adventure here.)

The sun plays in and out of the forest above onto the pathway as you walk. Compared to the evening you were ambushed, it’s a quite place, peaceful. Birds chirp and a squirrel chatters loudly as you get too close to his tree.

Squirrel - Set Up AdventureBeside you the wizard walks with surprisingly soft steps for his size. His large hands stay stuffed into the pockets of his robe and his eyes stay fixed on the road, on the sides of the path, and the forest surrounding you, like he’s just waiting for something to go awry.

In the inn he looked like a large man. Now, walking beside him in Mirrorland Forest, he’s a giant. Several times as you walk he ducks to avoid hanging branches from the trees. No wonder whoever took the dowry made sure he never even met up with it.

He introduced himself as Wizard Ezekiel. You wonder if calling him Zek would be an offense.

“The transport was ambushed just ahead,” you say and point up the road to a spot where several large boulders encroach on the path.

“What do you remember?” he asks in his rumbling deep voice.

“Shouts,” you answer. “I was the rear guard. When I heard the others shouting, I rushed to join them. Someone caught me there,” you point to an oak tree that overhangs the road, “from above. Dropped on top of me and, the next thing I knew, I was being woken by the King’s men who were sent to find the transport when it didn’t show up on time. Rather un-heroic moment for me.”

Wizard Ezekiel doesn’t respond to your last admission. He walks underneath the oak and stares up into its heavy branches.

“Piece of hair,” he holds out his hand.

“What?”

“I need a piece of your hair.” He snaps his fingers. It startles the birds into silence for a moment.

You hesitate. “No toads,” you remind him.

He snorts and shakes the large hand he’s holding toward you. With a resigned sigh, you pull a strand of hair and give it over.

“This isn’t enough to turn you into an amphibian anyway,” he gives a devious half grin as he twirls the single strand between his fingers. Chuckling at your consternation, he turns away and places the hair onto his large palm. He holds it up toward the tree’s overhanging branches and gently blows the strand into the leaves.

Just like that, you’re looking at a hazy image of yourself running down the road. In the oak sits a cloaked figure. With the cloak and his absolute stillness, he blends almost perfectly into the leaves of the tree. It’s only his hazy outline and the fact you know he’s there that you spot him.

You and the wizard walk around until you can see the figure’s face.

“We know him,” you say in shock.

“Hmm,” Wizard Ezekiel agrees.

The innkeeper’s face is lined and focused but his usual friendly smile is not in evidence. Instead, he’s staring at your running figure with consternation and a kind of guilty realization.

“I think you’re alive because he knows you,” the wizard says. “I’m starting to think you were not supposed to live.”

“What’s that?” you point to a piece of paper sticking out of his breast pocket.

Contract - Set Up AdventureWith gentle fingers, Wizard Ezekiel pulls the phantom paper free and unfolds it like it’s made from brittle bark.

“Contract.” He tilts the yellowed page for you to see. Orange stains pock mark the paper, making you think of the man’s cider.

“For the dowry—” you trail off as you read the rest, “and two other jobs.”

“One of which happens tonight when the princess leaves for her wedding,” Wizard Ezekiel points to the date.

The hazy memory image dissipates like smoke.

“This,” the wizard gestures at the tree where the image just stood, “is not enough to convince the King of the man’s guilt. He does not trust magic evidence. We need something more.”

“We could ambush the ambushers tonight?” you suggest.

“Or let the princess’ guards know about the ambush,” Wizard Ezekiel offers back.

You shake your head. “Both of us are under suspicion from the first job. The guards are not likely to trust us. We might be able to get the innkeeper to turn to our side if we confront him.”

Wizard Ezekiel shrugs. “You’re better with people. Which option do you fancy?”

Aa. Ambush the Ambushers?

Or

Ab. Confront Innkeeper?

Let me know in the comments which option catches your fancy. Next Thursday, we’ll see what happens next.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

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Set Up

Mug of Cider - Set Up Adventure Story

It’s been a couple weeks, so it’s high time for a new adventure!

Set Up

Lute - Set Up Adventure StoryThe dim interior of the inn allows patrons a small bit of privacy. Like the dimness dampens sound, everyone talks in hushed tones and the music being strummed from the bard’s lute is soft, almost hypnotic.

You watch his fingers move across the strings from where you sit in the corner with your own fingers wrapped around the warm clay of a mug full of cider. No one speaks to you, which suits you just fine. You chose this inn for its quiet atmosphere, for its out of the way location and its delicious cider. The cider’s a weakness of yours but the innkeeper’s kind and lets you have it in exchange for odd chores around the place.

It’s been months since you’ve stopped in, however, and this time he simply nodded to you and set the mug on the table with a, “First one’s on me.”

Perhaps he sees the weariness in your eyes or maybe he can feel the disappointment eking from your pores. Either way, he hasn’t bothered your table since he gifted you the mug.

You sip the cider and savor its warm, spicy flavor as it washes down your throat.

“Cider’s soon gone,” says a deep voice. “And then you’ll have to face the day again.”

You look over to find a large man sitting in the chair across from you. He wasn’t there a second before. You didn’t hear the scrape of the chair or see him sit down. He’s just there.

You frown.

He’s a weather worn figure but then, most in the inn are. It’s the heavy brows and the spark in his eyes that makes you lean back in your chair for that extra inch of distance.

“Not looking for company,” you tell him.

His eyes crinkle in mirth but it’s a knowing mirth. “Didn’t figure you were.”

Mug of Cider - Set Up Adventure StoryA mug appears in his hand. The innkeeper didn’t set it there and moments before that hand sat flat against the rough grained wood of the table. But now steam rises from the clay and he raises it for a small sip.

“Ahhh,” he sighs. “It does lift the spirits, doesn’t it?” The mug thumps softly as he sets it back down. “I’ve got a job for you,” he says.

“Don’t want a job,” you say. You just finished a job. A job that set you up to take the fall for something you didn’t do. A job that left your name in the mud.

“Didn’t figure you did,” the man says. “But this job might fix things for you.”

“Fix things?” you ask.

“You were hired to transport the princess’ dowry across the boarder,” he ticks this off with a finger, “that transport was given a five man escort,” two fingers, “and was attacked in Mirrorland forest,” three fingers, “only one left alive was you,” four fingers, “so you take the fall as the inside man on the job. Am I about right?”

You sip from your mug.

“I’m right,” the man says. “Here’s the other side of the coin. I was hired to protect that dowry too.” At this, he extends his left hand across the table until the sleeve pulls away from his wrist. There, in faded blue and black ink, is etched the tattoo of the country wizards. “But my reporting instructions were wrong and I didn’t meet up with the transport before it was taken.” He pauses to pull his sleeve back down. “We were set up.”

You gesture at the mug in front of him. “So make the dowry reappear.”

He snorts. “I know these mugs exist right there in the back room of this inn. I know the cider’s in that pot over the hearth. Thus,” he gestures and a third steaming mug appears on the table, “I can move those items to this table.”

“You don’t know where the dowry was taken?” you guess.

He touches the side of his nose. “Just so.”

“What’s this got to do with me?”

“Wizard law allows me to produce,” he gestures at the mugs, “the dowry because I was hired to watch it. Nothing more, nothing less. I will do just that once you figure out where it’s being hidden.”

“Why me?” you ask again.

“No one will talk to a wizard.” It’s a flat statement. “And you have a vested interest in securing that dowry.”

Toad - Set Up Adventure Story“Last man I knew to deal with a wizard got turned into a toad,” you say.

He shrugs, “vested interest.”

“No toads,” you say. “No turning me into anything.”

He huffs, “fine. It’ll be a boring job.” He extends a hand to shake on it.

You hesitate and then shake with him, feeling his hand engulf your own and wondering if you just agreed to your own demise.

“I figure,” he says, “we can either investigate the woods where the transport was ambushed or question the King’s Captain who set up the transport. What’s your poison?”

A. Investigate the woods?

Or

B. Question the Captain?

Thank you for joining this adventure. In the comments, let me know which option you’d like to try. Next Thursday, I’ll post whichever one gets the most votes.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

What’s in a Name?

The Adventure Book by Jennifer M Zeiger

Last week I reminisced about the color of The Adventure’s cover and the balance between loving the cover as it is and trying to use it for marketing. In other words, trying to make it visible on a book shelf or a screen.

This week, please bear with me while I share the learning curve on names.

One, in the book’s title and two, in my author name.

Book Titles

Like book covers, in traditional publishing, the publisher tends to have more control over the title than the author. For instance, Twilight started out as simply Forks (named after the town the story is placed in).

However, that wasn’t interesting or unique enough, so it was changed to Twilight. A publisher, without a doubt, would have changed The Adventure to something else. And in hind sight, I should have too.

Here’s why…

Let’s have a little field trip. Go to Amazon and pick books. Then type in The Adventure.

Can you find the book?

I’d be seriously impressed if you could. It’s lost in pages and pages of other books, and maps, and piano book lessons, and Pathfinder game guides, and… I could go on for 100 pages worth of titles. (literally).

I liked the simplicity of The Adventure. I still do. But for marketing purposes, I should have picked something not only simple, but more unique.

Author Name

An author’s name is an author’s name. A traditional publisher doesn’t get to control that. However, they might suggest something different if it’s hard to find or your name matches someone else’s.

Let’s try another field trip. Go to Amazon and type in Jennifer Zeiger.

What do you get?

You get Jennifer Zeiger, but it’s not me until the second page. Now, if you type in my full author name with the middle M, you will find me, but this is such a subtle difference that it’s often overlooked.

On a side note, the other Jennifer is related to me by marriage. She writes for Scholastic and has often answered my random questions when she can.

Now, I knew there was another Jennifer out there who wrote books. When I decided to use my name for writing, I figured I’d have my full length novels published traditionally if anything, and they’re in the fantasy genre (YA and Epic). I figured these were different enough from what the other Jennifer wrote that it wouldn’t be a problem.

However, add that to the fact that The Adventure itself is difficult to find and everyone gets confused. (Including family. I’ve had aunts contacting me thinking I’m the other Jennifer.)

The takeaway from all of this:

Find a distinct title. And be choosy about the name you write under. These are the two gateways people will use to find your writing online. It’s worth taking the time to pick well.

What catches your eye in a title? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time, Blessings,

Jennifer

Note to Self, Go Lime Green

The Adventure in Auntie's Bookstore

A professor of mine back in college educated us on how book covers are made in the traditional book publishing industry. It kind of terrified me.

Why?

Because the author has very little say in the design and ultimate copy of the cover. Don’t get me wrong, she can have some input, but an author has to be selective with what she chooses to take issue with because the publisher will consider her input, but will, in the end, go with what will probably work best for marketing.

Silverville Swindle, The Editor Connection Blog PostIt’s a business, I get it, but my professor brought in his own book to illustrate his point.

The book was lime green with an alien on the cover.

He hated the lime green. However, when that book got placed on the shelf in a bookstore, mixed in with hundreds of other books, it popped. It stood out amongst the masses, as it were.

You may have seen my recent, probably overly excited social posts, about a couple bookstores carrying The Adventure. (Check out Aunties Bookstore and 2ndLook Books!) I am beyond ecstatic about this next step in the book publishing adventure.

But I definitely see now why lime green is more eye catching than dark blue.

Gah! It’s hiding back there!

With a last name like Zeiger, the book ended up on the bottom shelf. Plus, with it’s dark coloring, it’s harder to see in the first place. (I still love the cover! but marketing might dictate I love brighter colors a little more.)

So, Note to Self for the Future, go with a brighter color or something that will pop against a dark background.

My learning curve continues. =) What catches your eye in a bookstore? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Owl Shaped Option Aa1: Go to School as an Owl

It’s time to see if you survive this adventure!

If you missed the last couple weeks, let me fill you in. For your magicks class, you have to form an animated animal out of animas clay. You want to create an owl but, since you haven’t seen one up close, you’re having a hard time keeping the creature’s shape clear in your mind. Your teacher has given you one night to figure it out and you decided to climb a tree to see the owl’s nest on your farm. When you climbed the tree, you got a few seconds peek before the momma owl decided to attack. You decided to climb the tree again and the momma owl punctured the clay into your skin. When you tried to create your owl later, you turned into the owl. Now you’re headed to school in hopes that your instructor can change you back.

Let’s see if you get to school and if the instructor can help…

Owl Shaped Option Aa1: Go to School as an Owl

CowsYou lay beneath your bed until mom and dad head out to tend the cows. When you have projects at school, it’s not uncommon for you to head out early before either of them rise for work. You thank your lucky stars for this because they simply assume now that you had a project you forgot to tell them about.

By the time you squirm your way from beneath the bed, you’re stiff and one of your wings tingles from a lack of blood flow. As you shake it to return feeling, you debate waddling down the stairs or trying to fly off the roof.

Every time the momma owl has babies, they learn to fly by basically falling from the nest. It’s an all or nothing kind of gig. You either jump, spread your wings and hope they carry you, or you waddle your way to the school.

Time decides which option you go with. By waddling around the room, you figure out that it’s just going to take too long to waddle to school. You’d never make it during the school day.

With returned feeling in your wing, you hop onto your desk and shove the top of your head against the base of the windowpane. Thankfully, you left it cracked the night before and it slides upward with only a few pushes.

You squeeze under and waddle out onto the roof of the house. Something catches your eye below. A curious ‘Whohoho,’ escapes you and you realize you’re eyeing a mouse for breakfast. With a shake, you return your focus to jumping off the roof.

The drop’s not that far, you’ve jumped it before, but at the time you were a human with a great deal more height.

Now you’re a two-foot tall owl. That drop looks a lot bigger this morning.

There’s a scream from out in the yard. It’s not human, but the angry challenge of the momma owl. She swoops toward you. If she had a problem with a human being near her nest, she’s furious that another owl’s close.

Flying OwlIt’s now or never. You take two steps before dropping into the open air. Your stomach meets the top of your mouth in a sudden desire to vacate your body. You imitate the momma owl and spread your wings.

There’s a pull at the appendages, a not unpleasant pressure, and your stomach slides back into its proper place as your wings catch the air. A thrill tingles through you. The ground whooshes past before you angle upward toward the open sky.

The momma owl gives a parting screech and gives up the chase, satisfied that she scared you away from her babies.

Below, the road meanders its way south toward the school. You use it to navigate into town.

A harsh ‘caw caw’ comes from the railing of an upper story building’s balcony. There are answering caws from farther down the street.

A sigh of frustration escapes you. Crows. They like to mob the owl at home and you know from watching her that it’s impossible to fight their numbers.

You turn and swoop between several houses, then take a sharp left into the schoolyard.

Caw Caw. Cawcaw caw.

By now there are about a dozen of the black birds swirling around behind you. With a quick count of windows, you pick out the magick instructor’s room and barrel into the glass. Landing is a lot harder than you expected.

You sink long claws into the window frame and beat your beak against the glass. The crows are getting bolder. One dives toward you.

You flare your massive wings and the crow backs off again.

CrowThe window slides open to reveal the curious face of your instructor. Although you don’t want to be rude, you’d rather deal with his displeasure right now than with the crows. You dart inside, shoving him back from the window in the process.

He stumbles back with a ‘humph,’ and catches himself on his desk.

Then he stares in shock at the owl on his desk.

You pivot your head back toward the window, then look at him, then back toward the window.

Close it!  You want to shout but all that comes out is a loud ‘Whohohohoooo.’

He reaches over without looking away from you and slides the pane closed just as a crow thuds into the glass. He jumps, shakes himself and then pokes you in the chest with a curious finger.

“WHOhohooo.” You glare at him.

He cracks up laughing a full, body-bending belly laugh. Tears start rolling down his face before he can contain his mirth.

Wiping at his eyes, he gasps in a breath. “Last time this happened I ended up with a hedgehog waddling across my floor, but a full horned owl! That takes the cake!”

Part of you wants to be indignant, but then you realize, he knows exactly what happened. You don’t have to try to get him to understand by speaking a series of ‘whohos.’

***

Your instructor helps you change back into a human after containing his amusement.

“I’ll grant you full credit,” he says, “because you obviously went to great lengths to see your owl and you created a full, flying owl with the clay. However, I won’t let you use animas clay again. If you ever happen to get it into your skin again, you’ll end up an animated object for life.”

This makes your magicks class very tricky because animas clay is used for lots of assignments, but your instructor helps you come up with alternatives and you avoid ever touching the clay again.

The End

Well done! You not only survived your owl experience but you passed the instructor’s assignment =)

Thank you for joining this adventure. I love to hear your thoughts on the options and the overall story. Feel free to leave a comment with feedback.

Many blessings,

Jennifer

Owl Shaped Option Aa. Attempt to See Owls Again

Owl

We’re back for the next episode in the Owl Shaped adventure =)

If you missed the last couple weeks, let me fill you in. For your magicks class, you have to form an animated animal out of animas clay. You want to create an owl but, since you haven’t seen one up close, you’re having a hard time keeping the creature’s shape clear in your mind. Your teacher has given you one night to figure it out and you decided to climb a tree to see the owl’s nest on your farm. When you climbed the tree, you got a few seconds peek before the momma owl decided to attack. Now, you’ve decided to climb the tree again because those few seconds didn’t give you much time to really look at the baby owls.

Let’s see what happens next.

Owl Shaped Option Aa. Attempt to see owls again

OwletsThe image in your mind of the owls seems to get fuzzier and fuzzier the harder you try to recall the details. At this point, the animas clay might hold the large, curious eyes of the birds but have no distinct body.

You can’t get full credit for such a half-formed creature.

Around you, the house lays silent with sleep. You tuck the clay into your pajama’s pocket and slip from bed.

Down the stairs you go, determined to get the owl image perfect in your mind. You skip the third stair that squeaks and tiptoe on the left side of the last step to avoid the groan it always emits.

Then you’re out the door and at the base of the tree again without mom or dad the wiser. No tail feathers stick out over the edge of the nest, so you’re reasonably sure the momma bird is away hunting.

The night’s breeze caresses your nose and ears, chilling them as you pull yourself up into the tree again.

The owlets swivel their heads in unison to look at you when you peek over the side of their home. One gives a ‘whoho—whooho00” like he’s asking you what you’re about. The other hides behind him.

Again, their large, curious eyes grab your attention but this time you have more than a second to truly take in their clawed feet and the shape of their bodies. The bolder of the two flutters his wings in agitation and you study the soft down that covers the baby appendages.

There’s a whoosh and an ear splitting screech just before the momma owl sinks her claws into your shoulder. You don’t make the same mistake as last time and let go of the tree. Instead, you pull yourself tight against the cottonwood’s trunk.

The momma owl lets go only to come at you again. You bat her away and lower yourself a few branches down.

This isn’t far enough for her, though, and she angles her body in at you, sinking her clays into your side and leg.

You bat at her again and the back of your hand strikes her in the chest with a solid thud. She backs up, beating her wings to keep air born.

This allows you to quickly lower yourself out of the tree.

You don’t pause once you’re on the ground. Pain shoots through your hip and side where she punctured skin as you race for the front door of the house.

Her screech follows you and from the sound of it, she’s giving chase. You get through the door and close it just as there’s a thud against the wooden frame. You hear claws tearing at the screen of the outside door.

After a moment, the sound fades. You sink onto the kitchen floor. With shaking hands, you inspect your shoulder and side and hip. The shoulder’s fine. Bruised with a few small dots of blood from her claws puncturing the skin, but it’s nothing a night’s sleep won’t help.

You side looks like you tried to grate it like cheese. It reminds you of the road rash you get when you fall off your bike on the gravel road.

It’s the hip that’s concerning. The momma owl sank her claws, not only through your pajamas, but through the clay in your pocket and then into your skin.

Terror seizes your heart. You scrub the wound with soap and water from the kitchen sink, rinse it, and scrub it again.

After a third washing, you assure yourself it’s clean, and head up to bed.

***

Morning sunshine and the clank of pans from mom cooking eggs in the kitchen wake you from sleep filled with bird’s wings and soapy water. It’s now or never to make your owl, so you set the lump of clay on your desk and shape its body with your hands. To your surprise, it holds the shape you set. With a deep breath, you step back and start the process of animating the clay from focusing your mind.

Feathers start to fluff out from the oval shape and excitement grows in your chest. There’s a tingling in your skin, which isn’t totally unexpected, the instructor did mention some odd side effects that could happen while working magick.

Except the tingling grows stronger until it feels like your entire body is awakening from the loss of blood flow.

The clay on the desk now has a beak and large eyes but your own eyes have blurred, filling with tears from your discomfort.

You try to stop, to maybe refocus your attempt. No one in class seemed to have these problems. But the process won’t stop now. You’ve gone too far with the animation process.

As you watch, the bird on the desk flows into fluid clay again, but it’s not melting like before, it’s flowing toward you. The clay touches your skin and starts to spread. Before you know it, it’s covering your body in a very thin film and the tingling is so intense you can barely draw breath. Your vision blurs even more, goes yellow around the edges and then blacks out.

***

You wake on the floor. With a hand, you move to push off the wooden surface but the motion doesn’t feel natural. When you look down to assess why, all breath leaves your body in a high-pitched wheeze.

You’re oval shaped and feathery. Long claws flex out when you try to move your feet.

With a wing, not a hand, you finally gain your feet. You hear mom climbing the steps toward your room and you scuttle under to bed to hide.

You’re an owl. A very large, horned owl. Even getting under the bed proves to be difficult.

Mom peeks into your room and give a soft ‘huh,’ before closing your door again.

What do you do now?

The instructor might know how to change you back but that means getting to the school, as an owl. Or you could try to change back on your own but, since you weren’t able to stop the animation process on your own, changing back might not prove successful either.

Do you…

Aa1. Head to School?

or

Aa2. Try to Change Back Alone?

Well that didn’t go quite at planned. Leave a comment below to let me know which option you’d like to explore. Next Thursday we’ll round up this adventure and see how it ends.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

Owl Shaped Option A: Climb the Tree

Owl

The vote was reallllly close on this one! You had me sweating that it was going to be a tie. Eventually, though, it settled on climbing the tree.

If you’re just checking in, here’s the quick run down. For your magicks class, you have to form an animated animal out of animas clay. You want to create an owl but since you haven’t seen one up close, you’re having a hard time keeping the creature’s shape in your mind for the clay. Your teacher has given you one night to figure it out and you’ve decided to climb a tree to see the owl’s nest on your farm.

Let’s see how this goes =)

Owl Shaped Option A: Climb the Tree

The afternoon was torturous. You headed home with the lump of animas clay folded into the bottom of a paper bag and then that bag was tucked carefully into an outside pocket of your backpack. You can see the bulge it makes in the canvas even now where it sits by the front door.

CowsMom hums in the kitchen as she cleans the dishes. Dad’s out, working with the cows. On the table in front of you is a spelling list from school. You’ve written it out several times but you know you’re not retaining the actual list.  The words are just letters floating through your subconscious while your active brain is focused on that lump of clay and the owl tree outside.

You finish writing out the list for the fifth time and set the pencil down. This was the last of your homework for the day.

“Can I go play?” you ask.

Mom glances at your list and then nods. “Put the list in your backpack.”

You race to the pack and trade the list for the paper sack with the clay. Tucking the clay into your pocket, you’re out the door and down the steps before you hear the screen door slam closed against the frame.

Mom’s exasperated sigh reaches you. Maybe it’s a mental thing, you know she’s going to sigh about the door, so you hear it no matter where you’re at.

The cottonwood tree isn’t far from the house. You skid to a stop at the base of it and locate the tangle of twigs above that make up the owl’s nest.

You’re just about to start climbing when you see large tail feathers sticking over the edge of the round mass.

The momma owl’s home. You slump to sit at the base of the giant tree.

She’ll attack you for sure if you start to climb up now.

The momma owl doesn’t seem inclined to leave anytime soon, so you pull the lump of clay from its paper sack and start trying to mold it again. Each time you get the rounded shape of the bird’s body formed, the clay sort of melts around your hands. The tail feathers hold their shape a bit longer though. With one good look at the owlets, you’re sure you’ll be able to hold the whole shape in your mind.

Dusk blurs the horizon by the time you hear a whoosh of wings overhead. You glance up just in time to see the momma owl skim away toward the nearby field. There are mice aplenty in the field, so you’re sure she won’t be long. On top of that, your own mom will be calling you to bed soon.

You pocket the animas clay again and scale the tree in the near dark. Long experience in this tree makes the climb easy.

The bark of the branch containing the nest bites into the palms of your hands as you pull yourself up to peek into the bird’s home.

Inside you find two fluffy bits of feathers. The owlets pivot their heads to look at you and one gives a soft, babyish ‘who’? Their Owletsadult feathers have not come in yet. Instead, they’re covered in a soft poof of down.

You stare at them, taking in their shape, the round features of their faces and eyes, and the wings they flutter in agitation the longer you stay near them. You try to imprint the way they look on your mind’s eye.

A whoosh is all the warning you have. The momma owl screeches as she sinks her claws into your hands where you grasp the tree.

Instinctually, you try to pull away. This off balances you at the exact moment you let go of your handhold on the branch. You swing wildly, attempting to regain a hold but the momma owl will have none of it.

She beats her massive wings in your face and you lose all sense of the world around you except for the gut twisting feel of falling and the wind and feathers buffeting your body.

A scream escapes just as you hit the ground. It’s cut short as the impact drives the breath from your chest and then your head cracks hard against the dirt. You get a sense of dizziness and then nothing.

***

The world still feels like it’s spinning. As you open your eyes, the faces of mom and dad slowly come into focus.

“There you are,” Dad says. He gives you a lopsided grin. “Think the tree got the better of you this time.”

Mom huffs. She’s about to launch into a tirade about climbing the owl tree in the first place but dad chuckles and helps you to your feet.

“Go wash up,” he says and gives you a push toward the house. He watches as you make your way inside, probably to make sure you can walk a straight line.

You clean up and make it into bed without any residual effects from your fall. Dad clears you for sleep and soon your sitting in bed in a dark, quiet house.

The animas clay is still in your pocket.

You close your eyes, trying to recall all the little details you gathered about the owlets. It’s easy to remember their large, curious eyes but the shape of their wings seems a little off in your mind.

It’s better than when you tried to animate the clay in class but it’s definitely not a full, clear image. Perhaps your fall muddled your brain a bit.

Do you…

Aa. Attempt to see them again?

or

Ab. Try from memory?

In the comments, vote for which option you’d like to explore. We’ll see how it goes Thursday.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer