The Lady Bug – chapter three

“So,” Started Areada, “why are you lying on the ground?”

“I… I believe I was hit by something… I remember falling and…” Aaron quickly pulled up the side of his shirt, where he’d felt the pain. He revealed pale, unmarked skin. “Well, I seem to be alright.”

“Excellent!” Areada exclaimed.

“I was trying to do something… get something…” Aaron muttered. “Flour! I need flour!”

“Flower? Well, there’s plenty of those in the fields…”

“No,” Aaron interrupted. “Not that sort of flower. I meant the flour that you would use to make bread.”

“Bread?” Areada looked confused. “I’ve  never made ‘bread’ before. But, don’t worry, I’m sure we can find what you need. We’ll just have to go on a quest.” She said excitedly.

“A quest? For flour?”

“Oh, yes!” Cried Areada. “But, first we’ll have to get supplies. We may be journeying rather far, after all. Come along.”And with that Areada scurried away. Aaron quickly rose and followed behind.

“Where are we going?” Aaron asked.

“To the capital!” Areada yelled back.

“What’s the capital?” Aaron asked, but continued to follow the crazy bug.

—————

The capital, it turns out, was very much like a human city. There were towers, and tunnels, and busy streets, and lots of noise. Only, in this city, the noise came not from cars, but from millions of scurrying bug feet. The towers were made not of iron but…

“What is this?” Aaron asked, pointing to the side of the whitish tower.

“Food.”

“Food?”Aaron rubbed a bit off with his finger than tasted it. “Sugar?”

“Yep. We bugs were once a warring race. But then the sugar god appeared. We built our city around him. He feeds us. Piles and piles of sugar. ”

“The sugar god?”

Aaron followed Areada down one of the many tunnels toward the center of the city. When they emerged, Aaron nearly ran into Areada, who had stopped to bow before a giant bag of sugar. Aaron stared in shock. Suddenly, he realized that he had been wrong in thinking the bugs had grown very large. It was just that he had grown very small.

“What’s happened to me?” Aaron asked himself, looking around at the diverse city of bugs around him. Ladybugs, Flies, Beetles, Ants, Caterpillars, and other bugs that he didn’t even recognize. By now, Areada had stood and was waiting for him.

“Come on.” She said when she saw him look at her. “The Bug Bazaar is this way.”

“Bizarre indeed.” Aaron mumbled to himself as he turned to follow her.

He was unable to take a single step in her direction, however, because the ground beneath the chose that moment to shake, thrusting Aaron back onto his bottom. Gasps and screams sounded around him. A shadow passed over him and Aaron looked up to see a most terrifying sight. It was a hand. A hand much larger than any hand he had ever seen.

Actually, Aaron thought it probably isn’t really any bigger than any other hand. It only looks so large because I am so small.

The hand reached down from above and lifted up the sugar god. Sugar poured from holes in the packaging, burying some slower bugs.

“He is displeased with us!” Some bugs screamed.

“Run!” Screamed others. The seemed an excellent  suggestion to Aaron.

As Aaron ran he looked quickly from side to side.

“Areada!” Aaron gasped. “Areada, where are you?” He received no answer. Nor could he see her anywhere.

Suddenly the situation became even worse. A giant brush came down and began to sweep the city away. Aaron ran as quickly as he could. He stumbled and fell, landing hard.  He looked up.

He was now on a much lower level. It seemed to be some sort of road or walkway. To the left of him was a step drop off, so high that Aaron became dizzy looking at it and backed quickly away. To the right of him was what appeared to be a fence. Gazing beyond the bars, Aaron could see green and blue.

It’s a window. He realized. I am on a window ledge.

But Aaron was not safe. He looked back towards the city and saw a great wall of bugs stampeding toward him, followed by the brush. Aaron stared in shock for a moment before realizing that it was much more important to just get out of the way. He stood, too late. The first wave of bugs hit him, toppling him over and taking him with them as they jumped out of the window.

What comes between us

The sun was setting on a warm day when David walked into the park. There was a two person bench swing in the corner of the park. A thin girl in a bright pink dress and long brown hair pulled into a pony tail over her shoulder lazily kicked her feet, moving the swing back and forth.  David walked over to the swing and sat beside her.  He held the chain beside him loosely in one hand and stretched his other arm along the back of the swing, behind her, to hold the other chain, as if he were afraid he’d fall and needed the added security. The girl leaned into his red shirted torso, settling her cheek on his collar bone.

“Hello, David.”

“Hey, Molly.”

She looked up at him and smiled. He smiled shakily back.

“I missed you David. What took you so long to come back?”

“I’ve just… I’ve just been busy is all” he replied nervously.

“With what?” She looked up at him with that same sweet smile. He paused.

“Listen, Molly. Maybe I shouldn’t…. maybe I shouldn’t come here anymore.”

“What?” Molly sat up and moved away a little, looking at him with a shocked, hurt look. “Why? Oh…” Molly’s expression suddenly turned to one of anger. “It’s her isn’t it? Your mother. Well, it’s none of her business. You’re old enough to make your own decisions, David. Don’t listen to her. I love you.”

“I know, Molly, I… it’s just…. She says you aren’t real.” David looked away, unwilling to see her reaction.

“What? That’s ridiculous. You know me. You know I’m real.”

“Well, it’s… no one else can see you Molly, just me.”

“Well, of course, silly. You’re the only one that ever could. You’re special.”

“But, Molly, what if they’re right? What if I need help?”

“Don’t do this, David. You know that isn’t true.”

“Then why am I the only one?”

Molly’s stare became intense. She turned David’s chin toward her, forcing him to look at her.

“You know why, David.”

David stares back at her. Both of their expressions have gone blank. Eyes sharing secrets that no one else has heard.

“Yeah,” David finally replies. “Yeah, I know.”

TWO DAYS LATER

Molly’s sitting on the swing again, in her bright pink dress, waiting for David when he pulls into the parking lot in his beat up old truck. He approaches her slowly from behind, watching her sandaled feet as they kick back and forth. She looks real. More than that, she looks beautiful.

“Molly.” He calls.

“David!” She yells back, turning to face him. But she doesn’t leave the swing. She never leaves the swing.

“I missed you, David.” She says as he sits down beside her.

“I missed you too.”

“It’s so boring here without you.”

“What do you do, when I’m not here?” He asks. Strange, that he’s never asked her this before, never wondered.

“I watch the children mostly. And just think, a lot.” She says with a smile.

“Do you ever leave the swing?”

“No.” Her smile fades and her eyes go cloudy. She’s remembering. David tries to distract her.

“Hey, so you remember that book I was telling you about? The one with the boy who falls in love with a ghost?”

“Yeah.” That smile is back. She looks like an angel.

“Well, I brought it.” And David begins to read.

THREE DAYS LATER

David and Molly are sitting on the swing. Molly in her pink dress, and David in a disheveled blue T-shirt and baggy jeans. His hair’s a mess, while hers is in the same perfect pony tail.

“They’re sending you away?” Molly asks in a shaky, terrified voice. “They can’t! I need you!”

“Don’t worry, Molly. I won’t go. I won’t let them take me! You’re real. This is real. I won’t leave you, Molly. I promise!”

“I’ll always love you David.” Molly sobs. “Promise you won’t go.”

“I promise, Molly.”

A car horn honks and David turns toward it then back to Molly.

“I’ll be back, Molly. I promise. Maybe I can’t come every day,  like I usually do, but I will come back.”

“Okay.” Molly sniffles. “Okay, I trust you. I’ll wait for you. I love you, David.”

“Love you too, Molly.” David hugs her then walks slowly away toward the car, looking back often. Now he’s crying too.

IN A HOSPITAL, MENTAL HEALTH WARD, AS NURSE JEFFERSON IS MAKING HER ROUNDS

Nurse Tiffany Jefferson pushed the cart of medicine down the hall towards her last patient of the day. Already, Tiffany was planning what else she had to do that day before she could lay down for the night.

Let’s see.” She thought. “The dog needs his nails trimmed; I’ll have to make an appointment with the groomers. Oh, and Alice needs her costume ready for the school play, I’ll have to work on that. I’ll stop by the crafts store on the way home. Oh, and Jack’s football game. Oh, I do hope Robby got that promotion…”

The patient was sitting in the chair by the window, as always.

“Okay, Molly, time for your medicine.” Nurse Jefferson said, handing the girl the small cup with her medicine in it and a cup of water.

The girl turned, smiling as always. Her eyes stared emptily at Tiffany as she took the medication and swallowed it. Then she smiled once more as she handed the cup back to the nurse and turned, once again, to the window.

I’ll stop at the grocery store after the crafts store to get supper. What should we have tonight? Lasagna maybe?…” The nurse continued with her musings as she left the room. Just before nurse Jefferson closed the door, she heard Molly’s half whispered statement,

“I love you, David.”