The Owl

The other day I had a training evening for some voluntary work I’m going to be doing. I basically did nothing for the whole day except loll in bed watching Criminal Minds, drinking tea and becoming more and more convinced that everyone I know is a serial killer. So when it was time to leave I sort of rolled off the bed, grabbed my jacket and ran out the door.

I had to buy a ticket first and I was standing at the platform for a few minutes waiting for the train. I noticed a few people looking at me, I presumed they were giving me the Dublin once-over, which is what we call it when you’re looking at somebody to see if you know them, or just somebody related to them. I didn’t think much of it.

The journey into the city centre from Donabate is about half an hour, so I brought a book. I was reading when I noticed some teenagers sniggering at me. They looked away as soon as I looked up. I rolled my eyes. Teenagers find everything so amusing. What was so funny about a girl reading Miranda Hart’s “Is it just me?” on a train? But maybe I had been laughing to myself and looked a bit mad. Oh well, nothing new there.

I had time to kill when I got into town so I decided to go into a cafe to grab a sandwich. They were closing in about half an hour but I still felt hostile towards the staff member who looked at me like I was an alien. He was staring at me as if I was completely strange for wanting to order a panini.

“Are you not doing food anymore?” I asked, not wanting to be the one who held everyone up.

“Oh, yes, whatever you want I can make it.” He seemed to have snapped out of it, but was still watching me warily. I looked quickly into the mirrored display unit to check if there was something in my teeth. Nope, I was fine. Nothing on my face, either.

I flung my jacket over the back of my chair and sat down with my book. They brought me my sandwich and I ate it quickly, paranoid that they were trying to close up.

It was only when I was finished that I realised why I had had the feeling that people had been staring at me. They had been staring at me. I looked at my jacket on the back of the chair. Sitting in the hood was a stuffed owl. A toy puppet of an owl, christened Hemmingway when I had found him in my Christmas stocking the year before. Just sitting in my jacket hood, hitching a ride. He had obviously been there all evening, from my house to the train to here, just sitting there, looking out at people.

He was sitting on my bedpost under my jacket when I had grabbed it and I hadn’t seen him, the hood was down the whole time so I couldn’t have noticed. I stuffed it into my bag and ran out of the cafe. I hope he enjoyed his day out because I found it mortifying.

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