School: Banchory Academy, Aberdeenshire
The wintery presence is overbearing in the crisp October air, through which plumes of cigarette smoke carry from the backstreet pub nearby. Nothing but dim, orange glow from the steel lamp posts illuminates the sooty night sky. The large expanse of meticulously cut grass and cobbled pathway surrounding me come with a strong sense of familiarity. I know where I am. Tranmore Park; the only vaguely green space for miles in a town of ascending grayscale.
I have completely and utterly zero recollection of why I am here, never mind how I got here. I scramble for any clues hidden in my worn jean pockets, however all remained empty. No money, no phone, no keys; wherever my final destination was, I wasn't going to be there for long, in fact, perhaps I was simply wandering. For whatever reason, I'm still unsure of, but I knew I would be returning to an open door, somewhere like home.
I know where home is. Home is a brightly-painted farmhouse in the middle of the Devon countryside that always emanates the sweet scent of spring tulips. Mum, Dad and I, curled up in front of the T.V.; these are the people that really make home. But Mum died a year ago, and Dad hasn't been right since. I'm nowhere near home now.
Suddenly a glimmer of white and speckled silver caught my eye. "Twoot-twoo!" cried a dainty snowy owl from a gnarled oak branch. A reply echoed through the park from another tree and a large male owl swooped down through the trees. I watched, mesmerised, as the two glided through the air to meet each other. I can remember him now. Stephen; I’m sure that was his name. Everything begins to rush back to me, our wedding, being so deeply in love, but there is something more. Something I am missing from the happy memories.
The owls began to claw at each other’s feathers, and the joyous jig through the air turned into a vicious scramble. Talons protruded from the toes of the muscular male and with one large strike the little white owl was thrown to the ground. I know that this means something.
Something significant. Something life-changing.
I am the little white owl.
Staring into the puddle of rainwater below my feet, I can make out the blue and purple bruises along the side of my jawbone, barely visible below the obvious layers of concealer, seeping down onto my bony shoulders and down the side of my body. It started a few weeks ago, the fights, the blows.
Lifting my shivering body from the park bench, I hastened down the maze of park pathways. I paused, gazing back at the owls. The larger is nowhere to be seen, but the little white owl’s wings are beating fast, carrying her far away towards the starry night sky.