TITLE: Jump 17th November 2017
By Rebecca Bithyah
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Our sleeping leaf trembled. I woke, smelt the poison, and shook Kendall. “Two-legs is up early, she’s spraying the roses.”
Kendall peeked over the edge. “How many aphids will die? When will it be safe again? What kind of poison?”
“I don’t know,” I lifted my nose and scented, “I haven’t smelled this type before.”
The odor of rich, musty soil wafted from the garden across the black-strip. Pointing an antenna I said, “There’s something <i>good</i> over there. I bet the aphids are thick. I’m sure we could make it across.”
“What about the rumblers? I can’t fly over them with you on my back, and they move so fast, we’d never make it through.”
“But God’s been whispering to me. He says we can do it if we try.”
“If God’s so smart, why did you hatch with crooked wings?”
Blinking, I stepped backwards.
She rubbed an antenna over her face. “I’m sorry. Look, we know the other ladybugs here, the ones over there could be dangerous. You've heard about the,” she dropped her voice, “cannibalism. We can’t risk it. The aphids will re-populate. Trust me, okay?”
I inhaled the rich soil aroma but sighed it out. “Okay.”
When the poison had dried, Kendall flew us to the nearest rose bush. I scuttled from leaf to leaf but couldn’t smell any aphids. Not even scale or mites. My spots quivered. “We’re going to starve.”
Kendall rolled her eyes. “This is only one plant. Tune up that nose of yours, it’ll guide us to food.”
We flew from bush to bush but found nothing until I caught the faint whiff of mite in a young rosebud.
Kendall dumped me off her back before we’d even landed, ripped open the bud and dove inside.
I climbed up behind, but she shoved me out and said, “Go find some more like this.”
Circling, I scented the air until she emerged holding a mite’s leg. “Here, this was all I could find.” Her stomach was bulging.
“Where’s the rest?”
“I need the strength to fly, you only have to smell. I should eat more until the aphids come back.”
I supposed she made sense. Accepting the leg, I munched it down as we continued our search.
For weeks, we scoured the garden’s rosebuds. Kendall ate the lion’s share while I starved. Growing weak, I had trouble gripping on as we flew.
I begged her to give me more food. She said I was getting a fair amount. I demanded that we fly over the black-strip. She refused. I explained that my sense of smell was fading. She said I was exaggerating.
But I knew I wasn’t. I knew I was dying.
One night, I lay awake, hunger gnawing at my belly. I could tell by the curl of Kendall’s legs that she was in a deep, satisfied sleep.
A bitter taste flooded my mouth. Memories of the past weeks played through my mind and suddenly, I knew that Kendall was only keeping me alive because I was useful.
The aroma of musty, rich soil wafted from beyond the black-strip. With it came God’s whisper. “Fly free my daughter.”
Tears flooded my face. “But, my wings.”
Again, the rich fragrance carried God’s words. “Trust me.”
Sobbing, I crawled to the leaf’s edge and peered down. Plummeting to my death was better than starvation. I looked back at Kendall, opened my wings and jumped.
Tumbling free, I prayed for a quick end. Instead, a rumbler passed by and pulled me into its draft. I was spinning out of control, but could still scent the rich soil. What if I could make it? I beat my stunted wings, aimed at the smell and popped out on the other side of the black-strip. My head whirled, but I followed my nose until I fell into pillow-soft soil. The fragrance I’d scented from my garden enveloped me. I was here.
A voice barked, “All new recruits must report to HQ.”
Facing me was a massive ladybug. My spots quivered.
“Fear isn’t an option at Smith’s Organic Nursery. Battle readiness is key. Aphids won’t eat themselves you know. Any special talents?”
“I, I can smell an aphid colony three bushes away.”
“Hmmph. HQ will be impressed.”
“But I can’t fly.”
“No problem. We have pilots who specialise in dual flight. I’m one of them.” She extended huge, iridescent wings. “On you hop, no messing about.”
I climbed aboard, gripped tight and we soared into the night.
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