THE MOLE AND THE OWL
Once a mole and an owl shared a soul. The two animals possessed different bodies, to be sure, but they had to make do with a single soul between them. Neither creature really had much need of the soul dur¬ing the time it slept. For the owl, that meant the daylight hours. The mole, being sight¬less, wasn’t too concerned about its sleep patterns; so when the owl asked to have use of the soul by night, the mole raised no objection. To look at the owl and the mole, one would never guess they had anything in common. The owl was known for its wise and distant air. The mole was known for destroying anything in its path without a sec¬ond thought. Whereas the one plowed through or gobbled up with rank delight whatever it happened upon, the other remained serenely perched above it all, barely appearing to concern itself with the hurly-burly of this world. The soul shared by these two was quite flexible. It had to be. A less pliant soul would never have survived the strain of being passed to and fro so often, not to mention the added stress caused by the owl’s insis¬tence that any con¬nection between itself and the mole remain a secret. For the owl was ashamed of what the other did with their common soul. Such behavior was clearly beneath the dignity of an owl. The mole, by contrast, didn’t really care what the owl thought. In fact, to the mole the owl seemed a calculating snob. It even gave the mole consid¬erable satisfaction to know that the owl was embarrassed by their odd kinship. Whenever the mole was handed back the soul, it would rub the thing around in the dirt awhile to rid it of any hint of the owl; for in truth, moles must be wary of owls. An owl can easily put an end to a mole’s stealing through the nether regions if it surfaces without due care. This unpleasant fact of life often hampered the mole in its pursuit of dark plea¬sures that would have shocked the owl, which was why the mole felt a need to dust up the soul whenever it was re¬turned and remove all trace of where it had been. For its part, the owl often found itself, after taking back the soul, prey to violent impulses it had to assume were the mole’s since they seemed so foreign to what the owl conceived to be its own true nature. From time to time, it felt rising within itself a troubling urge to assail anything that it thought had intruded upon its domain, even other owls, reacting to their presence in the same way the mole might react with savage fury if confronted by another mole in darkness and in dirt. No trick or foul play was re¬nounced when the owl hurled itself into these fell struggles. This, then, was the quandary facing the mole and the owl. Perhaps the solution would have been for the pair to cut the soul they shared in half. Perhaps then each of them could have gone about its life unaf¬fected by the other. The mole probably could have gotten along with half a soul. But could the owl? Or would it be at a loss to defend its lofty perch without the ruthless savvy of a mole?
Copyright © 2003-2004 by Geoffrey Grosshans