|Photo by Simon Howden|
Zuri didn't even glance in the bee's direction.
"What's your name?" the bee pressed. Feeling a bit full and in need of a rest, Zuri licked her lips and looked up at the annoying bee. "Well" Zuri grinned sarcastically, "Isn't this nice. A visitor. Since you insist, my name is Zuri." The bee smiled. "Ooo! That's a pretty name!"
Zuri started scooting herself towards the stem of the flower so she could take a nap. Just then, the bee landed on the leaf behind the caterpillar. "What are you up to?" Kazi queried. Zuri sighed. "I'm about to take my mid-morning nap, if you don't mind."
"What's that?" Kazi asked.
"You don't know what a nap is." Zuri said flatly.
"Nope." the bee replied.
"Hmmm. I wouldn't even know where to begin. But, here, let me show you." Zuri said as she laid her head down and closed her eyes.
After watching the caterpillar for about forty-five seconds, Kazi, with a quizzical look on her face said "You're not doing anything."
"That's the point." responded the caterpillar without opening her eyes. "Now, will you leave me to my napping. I have my breakfast to digest and a full afternoon of eating ahead of me."
"Ok." said Kazi and with that, she flew back to the flower to collect pollen.
Zuri finished off her day just as planned, eating and eating. She ate her way through most of the leaf the bee had landed on before the sun settled in for the night.
The next day just as Zuri was eating her lunch, she heard a familiar voice coming from the neighboring flower. "Good afternoon Zuri!" It was the same bee from the day before. Since she wasn't the chatting type, she pretended not to hear the bee and continued her meal. Then she heard "Good afternoon Zuri!" from just behind her. She thought to herself, "Why does this insect not get the hint!". Turning her head, she said "Hello. As you can see, I am busy. What can I do for you?" Her voice clearly laced heavily with annoyance. Any caterpillar would have known she was not genuine in her offering of help.
"Nothing really. Just wanted to to say 'Hi.', so, 'Hi'", said the friendly bee.
"Hi." replied the caterpillar as though her mouthful of leaves was quite distasteful.
"So, what are you going to do today?"the bee asked.
"Same as yesterday. Finish eating this leaf ,then maybe move onto the one over there." she said as she nodded her head toward a brightly colored, untouched leaf on the other side of the stem. "Then, probably take another nap."
"Cool." said the bee truly interested by the caterpillars response. "Sooo, what do you do with the food you eat? Take it back to the rest of the... whatever you are's? By the way, what are you?"
"I'm a caterpillar and, no, I don't take food anywhere. Notice I've not moved much since yesterday?" dryly responded Zuri.
"Bu.." Before Kazi could finish the first word of the next series of questions, Zuri interrupted her. "Look, you seem like a nice, buzzing, whatever you are, but don't you have anything else better to do than bug me? I have alot to do today and I simply don't have time to teach you the complexities of the life of a caterpillar. Since you don't seem to respect what it is that I do all day, what is it that you do exactly, Kamikaze, is it?"
Stunned, Kazi replied "My name is Kazi and I don't do much, certainly not as much as you. I collect pollen and take it back to the hive. There's some other stuff I do, but nothing significant."
"Exactly. Nothing significant. Do you know why I must spend my days and nights nourishing myself and resting? Do you?" asked the caterpillar; her voice increasing in pitch and volume.
"No." responded Kazi, her eyes growing large.
"Well. I must spend my days and nights eating and nourishing my body so that I can become a beautiful butterfly." began Zuri, her head held high "I will outshine even the most beautiful flower in the most beautiful garden, and this fat, lumpy body will become thin and lithe and I will flit and float from flower to flower delicately sipping nectar. All who see me will be amazed at my grace and beauty and where will you be? Gathering pollen for who knows what and no one, yes, no one will give you a second glance."
"Oh. That does sound important." replied Kazi. "I can't imagine what it must be like to be so independent, so beautiful and colorful. Though the pollen I collect goes toward making honey and royal jelly, I'll never shine as brightly as you. I will never be considered more highly than a flower or any other bee for that matter. I wish I were a caterpillar too!"
With loathing, pity in her eyes, Zuri, looked upon the sad little bee and said "Well, you can't. Now go collect your pollen and return to your home and leave me alone."
Zuri never saw Kazi again and Zuri was right; she was highly regarded for her extraordinary beauty. In fact, humans sitting in the garden admired her while sipping their tea... sweetened with just the slightest taste of honey.
This story developed as I considered the existence of beautiful butterflies and productive honey bees. How much we desire to look at butterflies and, yet, we need the work of the honey bee. Caterpillars gorge themselves for their glory as a Butterfly and Bees gather pollen for the survival of their hive as well as the production of honey, one of the most intriguing and unique concoctions that God invented. I'm not saying that simple beauty doesn't have its own purpose, it has it's place, but I wonder if there aren't alot of bees acting as though they might become butterflies.
Let me know your thoughts!! It's one of the first short stories I've posted.