Better Help Snowy Owl By Nikolai Riddle

“Snowy Owl” by Zdeněk Macháček

Better Help Snowy Owl
By Nikolai Riddle
Art by Zdeněk Macháček
Published Issue 084, December 2020

My breath leaves my mouth
Like intermittent ghosts gliding into the void
I can feel every bead of sweat
Soaking the cotton of my winter hat
And my scarf
My cheeks and nose sting from the cold
As I look up at him
And await an answer

His round, golden eyes vanish for a second,
Blinked under black leather eyelids
Then return, shining fierce in the moonlight
He turns his head, smooth, as if it’s on ball bearings
And stares deep into the woods behind me
My eyes drift to his certificate
Carved deftly into the white bark of the tree trunk next to him:

His head swivels back and he eyes me
“I fi nd that, more often than not,
When someone is bothering us
It is actually more about us than the other person.”
I fi ll the air between us with a long, spectral sigh
I shift my feet in the snow and it squeaks softly
“Great,” I say, “You’re one of those.”
He blinks again, then asks, “Who?”

Nikolai Riddle is a Denver-based fiction writer, poet and sometimes-artist. He prefers to write about things dystopian, weird and darkly humorous.

Zdeněk Macháček is a nature photographer based in Czech Republic