Shadowed Fables (6 of 6): The Owl and the Mouse

This version of The Owl and the Mouse was easily my favorite of the Shadowed Fables. There are two versions of the story – the one I’ve included below and another more morally aligned with The Bird and the Ant which ends with the mouse helping the owl. In this version, the mouse pleads for his life by appealing to the owl’s contemplative nature.

Why I chose it:
I live in the moment as much as possible, which makes me outwardly appear lighthearted, but I am also a deeply private person. This story helped remind me that sharing a bit of myself with others can sometimes help them see the world from a different perspective. Watching someone else experience the world opening up allows us both to have an opportunity to appreciate it even more.

Origami owl, mouse, and sun in a shadow box

The Owl and the Mouse

The owl looked over the forest from afar, high above on his branch, his sanctuary. Dusk was slowly turning into darkness, and the soft light on the leaves turned from reddish gold to a dark hue of blue. It was still and calm in the forest, and it was all perfect for the owl.

As he silently contemplated on his thoughts, sharp eyes spotted movement in the dark green growth below. He flew down, swiftly and talons at the ready, towards his prey. He caught his supper easily and started to head towards his branch, his mind ever on his questions and ideas.

The owl absent-mindedly landed on his territory and started to eat his catch when a sudden sound jolted him back to reality. He apparently caught a mouse, a wood mouse to be more precise, and it was now quivering in fear and squeaking.

“Oh, please! Please! Don’t eat me!” the mouse squeaked. “I am very young and still have much to know about the world. I am very young and still have many things to live for.”

“Why should I spare you?” asked the owl. “I have lived a longer time and seen more than you have. The world is not someplace you will enjoy to be in. My feasting on you tonight can and will be considered a merciful act.”

“I feel sad to know that you think that way, Owl,” squeaked the mouse. “But my family says otherwise. So I must implore you to let me live, to let me experience life, to exist!”

“What does your family say about life?” the owl asked. “What does it mean to live? What does it mean to exist?”

“Firstly, Owl, if you would be so kind as to let me loose, I shall tell you what my family told me,” said the mouse.

“As long as you honour the exchange of your life for my answers,” the owl declared as loosened his grip on the small creature.

“My family says that we live for each other, for other mice,” said the mouse, looking upwards to face the owl. “We all live for each other, with each other and by each other. We share our efforts and our goals, our success and failures. We revel in our achievements and despair in our miseries. What is mine is for others, and others mine. Our fathers grew old and raised families till they passed away and returned to the earth, when new mice were born unto us, and for us to continue the cycle. Such is our life now and forever.”

There was only silence from the owl during and after the mouse’s speech. Now, he observes the mouse with an indiscernible look on his eyes. The mouse, sensing the futility of waiting for the owl to speak, turned to scuttle away.

“You live for others,” said the owl.

The mouse looked back and, after a slight pause, nodded.

“But I do not.”

“Surely there is something you live for. Why else would you exist?”

“What drives me to live also drives me to my death. I am unlike you nor anything else in this place. The forest shows the opposite of me: when the creatures in it sleep, I stand awake; when it is calm and peaceful, my mind is distressed and turbulent. I seek not what is given by the forest, what can be found in Nature. I seek the unreachable. I seek answers.”

“What you desire is truly impossible. It is unthinkable for me, my family and for all wood mice.”

“I say the same, for you are all but mice and I an owl,” sighed the owl. “Nonetheless, I thank you for your time and wish you find happiness in your existence.”

“I have already found happiness in mine,” answered the mouse. “But I wish you find the same in yours.” With that, the mouse left the owl’s presence, descending from the high towering branches and unto the familiar ground underneath.

The owl was very quiet for a while, his mind filled with what he has just heard, his heart locked with an indescribable emotion. So deep was his thoughts that he barely noticed dawn approaching, whereupon he tried to sleep, hoping his dreams will give him a temporary escape, or, if he does not dream, rest.

Day arrived and the creatures of the land began to stir, living their own lives, concerned with their own concerns. Dusk fast covers the land and the instinctual living of the diurnal animals slowly began to cease. Faint hues of purple and blue paint the sky against the strong glares of the bright orange and red colours, and it was to this beauty the owl opened his eyes.

The owl looked over the forest from afar, high above on his branch, his sanctuary. Dusk was slowly turning into darkness, and the soft light on the leaves turned from reddish gold to a dark hue of blue. It was still and calm in the forest, and it was all perfect for the owl.

As he silently contemplated on his thoughts, sharp eyes spotted movement in the dark green growth below. He flew down, swiftly and talons at the ready, towards his prey. He caught his supper easily and started to head towards his branch, his mind ever on his questions and ideas…

Story source: fictionpress.com

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