Alex patted her dearest puffed Zazzle on the head, smiling.
“You get to be on your own today, Zazzle,” she cooed, smoothing down his gruffly feathers, “because I happen to have the day off!”
Zazzle cocked his round, fat owly head to the side as he watched her move about the oval room of the tower, her picking and pushing through drawers and piles of junk and stuffing strange oddities that he couldn’t quite understand what they were into her already overfilled bag. He flapped his wings and raptly shook his head, spouting feathers all about the window where he sat perched, then picked his claw and hooted.
Alex turned, sensing his indignation, “Well, I don’t know what you’re going to do! Do whatever you want!” and she shrugged indifferently and at last slipped on her shoes.
The shoes! Zazzle immediately fluttered over in a flurry, racing forward and tumbling into her face, causing a commotion of surprised arm waving and a toppling over into the corner.
“Zazzle!” Alex yelled, “What on – !” and upon seeing her distraught owl there upon her knee, gazing into her with his big, glossy eyes, she soften.
“Ooh, Zazzle, I’m coming back.” and Alex picked up her goofy, adoring companion and held him in her lap, reassuring. “I’m just going away for a day, nothing more. I’m going to see some of my friends, from my first year. I’d take you with, but they don’t allow Familiars in the communal hall. Please understand Zazzle, this is my first day off in forever! I really want to see them.”
Zazzle saw Alex’s face fall, but slightly, at the mentioning of having not seen her friends in so long, and he knew what he had to do. Kindly, he nipped at her sweater, and ruffled himself and then flew back to the window, and claws clipping upon the pane he hooted to her encouragingly.
Alex smiled, “Thank you.” and with that she swiftly stood up and reached into the cupboard and pulled out a small treat, and tossed it to him. Zazzle caught the small scrumptious wad in a snap, and scarfed it. Out the door Alex went, but before closing it she popped back in.
“You know, Zazzle.” she said with a smile, “You should take the day off too.”
And smirking lovingly at Zazzle she departed, leaving him alone to fend and entertain himself for the entire day.
Upon her leaving, Zazzle sat there, squat upon the pane. A day off? He had just planned on sleeping, for as you surely know, owls aren’t keen on doing much else during the day. So out the window Zazzle flew, swiftly down the tower wall and swooping up and over the small patch of forest that resided, and curtailing left Zazzle gracefully zoomed over the Observatory Gardens and planted himself upon the railing of the wooden bridge that crossed over the quaint manmade brook that encompassed the gardens.
Well, what now? A clip-clop echoed out and Zazzle turned to see the gardeners wagon coming up onto the bridge, the old workhorse, Babe, slowly meandering into view. Unmoving he steadily twisted his head around to watch the slow, plodding and rickety wagon make it’s way up and over the bridge, which took quite some time, mind you, as Babe and the gardener resembled slack bags of skin and knobby, stork like limbs, each of them older than time itself — or so, Zazzle presumed. Once they had passed on by, Zazzle whirled his head all the way back around, and gave his famous indignant hoot, and took off once more.
Down and around and up and over the Observatory grounds he went. To the quay, to the west and east wings and all about the southern and northern towers he flew. From end to tip, he circled around, until finally at last he swooped down and snatched a hold of a rat, scrambling from out the stables, and had dinner.
Perched upon a wall along the western side, picking away at his meal Zazzle enjoyed his delightful plump rat, and in one last scarf he swallowed and fluffed himself, lifting his clawed feet and climping along the wall in a quick circle, and settled. This day was actually turning out pretty nice. Most relaxing. And with that he closed his eyes, and began his usual snooze. Snoozing is what Zazzle usually did during the day, but Alex’s proposal to “take a day off” led him into doing a most un-owly thing, but so far he had enjoyed it. So, he tucked in his beak, and snugged, and situated, and to dream land he headed, when an unfamiliar voice suddenly met his ears.
“An owl out in the middle of the day? Huh! Most peculiar.”
Zazzle’s eyes popped open and with a whirl of the head came face to face with a cat. He jumped back, readying to fly, when the feline purred, “Well, never have I seen such a rude reaction from a barn owl. Can’t fine strangers sit upon a wall together, basking in the presence of each other’s unexpected company?” The cat lazed out, stretching, and his multicolored coat shined, as though it were made of wax, and he took place next to a befuddle Zazzle, gazing calmly out into the distance, his tail twitching.
Rooted, and flummoxed, Zazzle remained frozen, eyes bulging and head cocked downward as he observed the sophisticated cat that had just seated himself. He turned his head left, than right, then left, then right again, and that cat flicked his ear and ma-owed.
Left, then right, and Zazzle at last slowly, steadily, sat himself down again, and shook out his feathery form, and situated, and then closed his eyes at long last and rested. His chest rose, then sank, and Zazzle felt the waft of sleep slowly moving over him.
“What do you think about the recent developments out east?”
Zazzle blinked, and turned his head to face the feline.
“Well, I myself find the rumors most preposterous, don’t you?” he mused, “What a shame though it would be if it where true – those poor, pitiful, pathetic easterners have had it rough enough.” The cat crossed his paws suavely, going on. “Why, I say if it hasn’t been since the Green Age that they’ve had any amount of luck at all, don’t you agree?”
The cat looked to Zazzle leadingly, who sat leaning back and glaring at his unexpected company.
“Hoot!” went Zazzle, and then took off.
“Fine, have it your way.” the feline called, and then stood up upon all fours and gracefully slunk away.
All the way down the wall, up and over to the south towers and then a swoop down into the forest’s tree-line with a whoosh of open wings Zazzle landed upon a mediocre branch and huffed. NOW it was time to snooze.
“Jeffery, look here!”
In an irritated pouf of feather’s Zazzle’s eyes snapped open and in a frustrated and contemptuous head shake Zazzle leaned forward leeringly upon his branch and looked below to see two students prancing gaily along the tree-line, laughing and jolly and horrible, horrible perkiness and one raced ahead and pointed at Zazzle, her stupid, stupid face beaming.
“Look! An owl!” she declared.
“What? No way!” her strolling companion Jeffery said, and saddling up to her he looked to where she was pointing. “Wow! You’re right. He is kinda fat.”
“Ha ha! Gosh he’s super cute.”
“Ha ha ha ha!”
Off the branch and rushing towards them with wings full spread Zazzle catapulted downward straight for the lovebirds, each of them letting out a little shriek as at the last minute Zazzle pulled upwards and rocketed over their heads, leaving them on their backs in the grass with freaked expressions as they watched him sail away.
All the way back up the western wall and to the north towers he flew, circling swiftly and then descending into his now favorite window of all time, and in a swoop landed somewhat halfcocked upon Alex’s bed, just short of flopping onto his face, and he fluffed himself and looked about the room. It was still empty, and turning to the large clock that ticked along the wall Zazzle saw that the short hand was just descending on the bottom of the clock face. With that, Zazzle flew over to his alcove in the far wall that Alex had taken the time to chisel out for him on his first day here with her, as his ‘Welcome Home’ present. He nestled on down.
Cozy and sleepy, Zazzle realized he had had a fun day today. But there really was no place like home.