A Short Book About a Long Life
by Waverly Huff
Chapter 1: A Fly is Born
A variety of smells, not all of them good, rose from the almost full garbage can. The can vibrated slightly as a large truck rumbled down the street nearby. Inside, at the bottom of a McDonald’s Happy Meal box, something stirred.
Fernando and Fredericka Fly flew inside the can to better see their 73 children slowly emerging from their pupae cases, the warm Florida sun drying their young wings.
After a while, Fernando cleared his throat to get their attention. “Welcome, my sons and daughters,” he said in his loudest voice. “Welcome Felix, Frank, Farris, Fenton, Farrah …”
“It’s not necessary to call them all by name, dear,” Fredericka said, interrupting her husband. “It will only tax your memory and their patience.”
“Good idea, my love,” replied Fernando. “Your mother and I will depart soon for a retirement trash receptacle on the beach in Palm Bay. But before we leave, we want to wish all of you a long and happy life.”
“And to leave you with a few words of advice,” continued Fredericka. “First of all, beware of what we in the fly world refer to as The Unholy Trinity. Father, if you will.”
As his wife spoke, Fernando pushed a small easel to the front. He flipped over the first page, revealing a drawing of a fly swatter.
“This is called a fly swatter.” Fredericka paused for effect. A low buzz filled the air as her 73 children moved closer together.
“W-w-what’s a fly swatter, mother,” asked Fenecia with a slight tremor in her voice?
“It doesn’t sound good,” added Filbert.
“It’s not good,” said Fernando. “This is what some humans use to … to kill those of us who dare enter their houses. So … never go into a human’s house!”
Fernando flipped to the second page: a can of Raid Insecticide.
“This is a spray that humans use to kill flies, ants, bees and other insects,” said Fredericka. “We flies have a saying: If you sniff it … you’ve snuffed it.”
“Why would the humans want to do this to us,” asked Felipe?
“Well,” answered Fernando, “some of the dirtier and more careless members of our species have been known to spread diseases to the humans. This is why personal hygiene is extremely important.”
He flipped to the last page. A few audible gasps came from the group as the image came into view.
“This,” Fredericka said, her voice taking on a deadly serious tone, “is a Venus Fly Trap.”
“I’m afraid,” whispered Fyllis. “I’m very afraid.”
“Me, too,” agreed Fester.
“Wait a darn minute,” shouted Franky Fly. “You’re saying that not only should we avoid humans both inside and outside their houses … but that there are also plants that can cause us harm?”
“That’s right,” answered Fernando.
“But if there’s one thing your father and I want to impress upon you,” Fredericka quickly added, “it’s that you cannot let fear run your life. Yes, there are a few dangers we must look out for. But this is a mostly a world filled with wonder and joy.”
“If you but take reasonable care,” Fernando continued, “you can have that long and happy life I mentioned earlier.”
“Exactly how long,” asked Franky Fly?
“Our species has been known to last as long as 21 days during the summer months,” answered Fernando.
“21 … days,” said Franky Fly in a halting voice?
“Yes,” replied Fredericka. “So make the best of them.”
“We must now leave you,” said Fernando. “Farewell and good luck to all of you. We love you very much.”
As their mother and father departed for Palm Bay, the 73 young flies waved at them and shouted their goodbyes.
“21 days,” Franky Fly repeated. “I wish I had a calendar.”
(To be continued)