When the owl comes one of the children must disappear. All the townsfolk know this, and guard their children close every night in case the mystical sound of the owl calling, hooting as it descends, should reach their vulnerable ears.
Those without children count the cost differently. The owl is wisdom, she is Minerva they say, she brings all the sacred understanding that will make the community thrive. In that way the loss of a child, when she requests such company, should not be resented or denied.
The townsfolk with children become clever. They draw new families to the locale with promise of prosperity and gain. And indeed it is true the township is blessed, and produce and commerce thrive. The townsfolk know why, they know so many secrets of the universe, all brought to them on the wing of the sacred owl.
But they will not tell the new families, for they may flee. And if they know, they may protect their children when it is so crucial they do not. They may hide them indoors on the moonlit nights most likely to draw her down into their realm. And then, if the new family children are protected, it may be one of the townsfolk’s own that is taken.
And it works, it works. New families torn apart, not knowing how or why. The cycle continues and the town thrives, and only they know. When the owl comes a child must go, must disappear on the night tide with her.
Only the townsfolk know.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2016