Drawing by Sophie Mason
Nona and Orson
Have you ever heard the amazing story of Nona and Orson the owl who lived in her belly button? Yes, you heard right, in her belly button! Well, listen carefully, for I am about to tell you.
Nona was a happy and fortunate child. She grew up with her parents, who loved her dearly, in a beautiful cottage in the forest.
In the cold winter, when she walked back from school, holding her mother´s hand and saw the chimney puffing out smoke, she would imagine the chestnuts they would later roast in the fire place. They gathered them from the garden, where an old and generous chestnut tree lived. She loved his leaves which looked like big heavy hands.
In the summer time the ivy that dressed the house would get heavy with leaves, and it reminded her of her father’s beard. During the never-ending evenings she would spend as much time as she could outside, chasing grasshoppers. When she caught one, she would open her hand and watch them spring far away across the garden.
She was very brave and unafraid of the forest, which she explored behind her parents backs. They were scared that she would get lost and had forbidden her from doing so. She wasn’t afraid of cockroaches or lizards. One time she encountered a fox and they eyed each other curiously for a long time; she felt no fear.
She was scared of only one thing: darkness. As soon as it began to get dark she would run back to the warm light of her home.
One afternoon she saw a hummingbird who, with his long beak between some flower petals, was feasting on nectar. She was fascinated with how small he was, how fast he moved his wings and by his colorful coat. The humming bird went into the forest and Nona followed him as he flew from branch to branch. She went deeper into the forest than she ever had before. It began to get dark and she was lost.
As the forest grew darker, Nona’s fear grew too. The trees, which she normally so loved, turned into enormous giants. The bushes into sharp-toothed monsters. She heard an owl hoot and she was sure it was a ghost. Then she saw two big eyes flying towards her. She was very frightened. She covered her eyes with her hands.
-Hello little girl, I am Orson the owl. What’s your name?
She opened her eyes and through her fingers she saw a beautiful owl. Even in the darkness she could see his feathers, which looked like tree bark. His eyes were huge and yellow, with big, deep, black pupils. His eyebrows shot up to the sky, just like her maths teacher´s did.
-My name is Nona- she answered- I’m very afraid of the dark.
-How silly! –said Orson- that’s just because you can’t see. I love the dark. In fact, I much prefer nights to days. There’s too much light during the day, but at night I can see without being seen. Tell me, Nona, what are you afraid of?
Nona started telling Orson about all the shadows she was afraid of. Every time she named one, the owl would describe precisely what was there, and then Nona would feel better. When she felt better, Orson stood on her shoulder and guided her out of the forest. Along the way they chatted and chatted. They became very good friends, so much so that they felt very sad when they had to say goodbye. So Nona asked him to hide in her dress, so that her parents wouldn’t see him. That way he could stay with her in her bedroom until she fell asleep and she wouldn’t be scared when the lights went out.
As he was hiding in her dress he came across her belly button. “What a funny little thing¨! Orson thought. Curious, he stuck his beak inside, then his head, and then his whole body. He was fully inside Nona’s belly button! And what a cozy place it was! Nona felt filled with security.
From that night on, Orson spent all his days inside Nona’s belly button. At night he would come out and talk to her until she fell asleep, describing what all the shadows she was scared of were. When she was sound asleep he would fly out of the window and go hunting in the forest. At dawn he would fly back to her bed, wake her up, and tell her of all the adventures he had had. Then in he would go, back to her belly button to sleep all day.
No one ever knew. It was their best kept secret. Once, in gymnastics, as they were learning to do summersaults, Orson’s head popped out. He opened his sleepy eyes and looked very confused. Thankfully nobody saw him.
Orson had to suffer the daylight no more, and no more was Nona scared of the darkness. They were very happy together and their friendship lasted for many, many years.