“Hey, who are you?”
“I’m an owl. My name is Henry. Who are you?”
“Samantha. You can call me Sam. Are you magical? There was a burst of light in the sky and then there you were. Where did you come from?”
“Nice to meet you, Sam. I’m from a faraway planet. I’ve been flying for a long time. Boy, are my wings tired. I’d like a place to rest before I continue on with my journey.”
“You’re welcome here for as long as you’d liked to stay.”
“Thank you.” Henry landed. “You don’t happen to have seen any other plaid owls around here, have you? On the planet where I grew up, I was the only one. I scoured the whole planet and when I realized I was the only one, I left. So far, no other stars, planets, or asteroids have had any plaid owls. I’m starting to get a little discouraged.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I haven’t seen any other owls, plaid or otherwise. There are lots of worms like me, though, just under the surface of the planet. They don’t come up here much except after it rains.”
“Hm. I suppose I better keep searching. This is a pretty big planet, though, so I’ll do a little exploring before I go. Say, I’m hungry and thirsty. I think I saw a river as I was flying in but my vision is a bit blurry with fatigue so I don’t know exactly where it was. Also, I’m too tired to fly there. Do you know if there is anything within walking distance?”
“I know the river you’re talking about. It’s a few miles away so it would be hard to get there on claw. Don’t worry, though, there’s a pool of water that is a part of the same river, but underground not far from here. Follow my voice. It should only take us about 10 minutes to get there.
“I’m glad you’re here, by the way. It gets pretty boring. I seem to be the only one in my family or set of acquaintances who has any sense of curiosity about the world around me. That’s why I spend a lot of time on the surface, while everyone else just roams around mindlessly digging holes all day. I’m getting a little out of breath crawling and talking and I can go faster underground, where the dirt is wetter, so I’m going to play Marco Polo with you, okay?”
Sam created a quick hole in the sand and disappeared. She popped up a minute later, a yard away, and shouted, “Marco!”
“Polo!” Henry responded, and walked toward Sam’s voice.
After a few Marcos and a few Polos, Sam popped up and said, “We’re here! There’s a pool of water just under the surface here. I’ll create a starter hole for you and then you can peck down and get the water.”
And it came to be that Henry was able to break through the crust of the surface and find water. “Sam?” he said, after he’d drunk his fill.
“There are a lot of worms down there whose names I don’t know,” Henry said. “Would you mind terribly if I ate them?”
“I – wouldn’t be pleased, but I understand that you’re hungry, so I wouldn’t hold it against you.”
This was all the answer Henry needed. “Are you okay?” he asked, a few minutes later.
“I suppose. I never had much in common with my fellow worm-kind, and this patch of water is far enough away from my home that only a few of the worms looked even vaguely familiar, but it was still hard to watch. Also, the screams were unsettling. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget that sound.”
“Are you mad at me, now?”
“I said I wouldn’t be, but I think I am a little.”
“I get that. So, what now?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think that I can face my family again, at least not soon. Do you mind if I come with you on your journey? Maybe you’ll find another plaid owl and I’ll find a way to live with myself.”
“Aren’t you afraid that I’ll eat you?”
“Yes. But I’m also afraid that you won’t.”
Turkey City Lexicon: Brenda Starr dialogue
Scholastic Story Starter: A day in the life of a plaid owl who lands on a faraway planet.