While I’m waiting for Kelli Jarasitis, the talented artist who brought Franky Fly’s Away from Home to life, to complete her illustrations, I thought I’d publish the book chapter by chapter. Here’s the first two.
The Dragonfly Sisters Go To Town
A Small Book About a Big Family
Chapter 1: Not Dragons, Not Flies
It was a beautiful summer day in Macon, Georgia, and the Dragonfly Sisters were perched on a branch of a lilac tree outside a Toys ‘R Us store watching happy families go in and out. They were both thinking very hard because they were on a quest … a quest to find their own happy family.
After they were born, they existed as nymphs, living on a lily pad just beneath the water of a pond. After about a year, they climbed up a nearby reed and began to breath air. They then crawled out of their larval skins, pumped up their wings, and flew away to feed. They returned to the pond, expecting to see their family. But they soon realized they were quite alone. And that didn’t sit well with them.
“On any quest,” one of the sisters said, “the first step is the hardest.”
“You can say that again, sister!” replied the other sister. “the problem is that we don’t know which way to step. We must think harder.”
“But thinking harder makes my head hurt,” the other sister said in frustration.
The Dragonfly Sisters thought very hard for a very long time, hoping their heads wouldn’t hurt.
Their reverie was disturbed by the arrival of a fluttery wasp. “Excuse me, but are you sisters?” asked the wasp as she landed near them. “You look very much alike.”
“If that’s true, then we must be sisters,” answered one. “We’re both bright orange and yellow and extremely pretty.”
“And no one can tell us apart,” added the other. This was very true.
“It’s patently perplexing,” Peter Pasimachus once told them. Peter Pasimachus was so pretentious he went by his Latin name instead of Peter Beetle, which was his normal, regular, everyday name. “One of you should carry a pretty purse or wear a pungent perfume so we can tell you apart.”
“The important thing is that I know who I am and you know who you are.” said one of them at the time.
“That’s not true,” countered the other one. “The important thing is that I know who you are and you know who I am.”
The two dragonflies were known far and wide for this kind of circular logic. It actually gave them a reputation as deep thinkers in some parts of the insect world.
Once, on the radio show “You’ve Got Mail with Sammy Snail,” Sammy compared them to the legendary Franklin Flatworm.
Known professionally as Franklin The Fabulous, Mr. Flatworm was a magician who once, while performing his act, accidentally cut himself in half. The audience was horrified until both ends of Franklin stood up and bowed in unison. (Franklin, you see, was a member of the planaria family and was capable of anterior regeneration, although he didn’t know it at the time.)
“Just like Franklin Flatworm,” Sammy pronounced at the time, “these Dragonfly Sisters are two halves of a whole.”
“So you are sisters,” the wasp said. “What’s your earliest memory?
“I remember crawling out of my larval skin and seeing you do the same,” said one of the dragonflies.
“And then we flew away to feed together,” added the other. “So we must be sisters. Do you remember what our names are, sister dear?”
“Not a clue.” she answered.
“My name is Willow Wasp,” announced their new friend. “And you are … you are … Dorothea and Desdemona Dragonfly.”
“We are?” asked Dorothea and Desdemona in unison.
“Well, you are now,” Willow Wasp answered nonchalantly. “I’m very good at thinking up names. My brother Walter says it’s a gift. But my other brother Walter isn’t quite so sure.”
“You have two brothers named Walter?” wondered Dorothea.
“I was just starting out in the naming game,” explained Willow Wasp, grumpily. “Everybody makes mistakes.”
“Well, I love my name and I’m sure my sister loves hers as well.” stated Desdemona.
“Maybe you can help us, Willow Wasp, said Dorothea. “We’re on a quest to find out family. Do you have any idea how we can find out where our mother and father are?”
“I wonder if we have brothers?” wondered Desdemona. “Or other sisters?”
“I’m very good at naming,” said Willow Wasp. “But I’m not very good at finding. You need to talk to Cha Cha Caterpillar. She lives quite near here and I’m sure she can help you.
“Cha Cha is a great name,” said Desdemona. “Is that one of yours?”
“You betcha,” answered Willow Wasp. “Fits her perfectly.”
“Thank you so much for everything,” Dorothea said, fluttering her wings. “Come along, Desdemona dear! We’ve got a caterpillar to find. Our quest begins now.”
Chapter 2: Cha Cha Helps Out
Not that far away, Cha Cha Caterpillar was soaking her six true legs in the warm water of the pond. (She also had six pairs of what are called “prolegs” on other parts of her body, but they were more stubs than legs and they weren’t the ones that were aching.)
“My dogs are sumamente cansados,” said Cha Cha Caterpillar to no one in particular. (Because of her mixed heritage, Cha Cha had a habit of mixing English with Spanish. “Sumamente cansados” means “very tired” in English.)
It had taken Cha Cha six days to walk from where she was to where she is. She needed water before she returned and began forming the chrysalis that would begin her transformation. So she drank and she soaked and caught a few winks in the warm summer sun.
She felt the fluttering before she saw anything. (Like all caterpillars, Cha Cha had very poor vision but her antennae picked up even the slightest vibrations.) She saw identical orange and yellow blurs descend from the pale blue sky and land near her.
“Your turn to ask,” said one of orange and yellow blurs.
“I fear our search is futile, sister,” said the other orange and yellow blur. “I never knew there were so many caterpillars in the world. Excuse me, we’re looking for Cha Cha Caterpillar. Willow Wasp said she might be able to help us. Are you her or do you know where we can find her?”
“I am Cha Cha Caterpillar ciertamente (indeed),” Cha Cha answered. “And you are?”
“We are very happy now that we’ve found you,” said Dorothea. “I’m Dorothea and this is my sister Desdemona. We’ve been searching the pond for you.”
“We want to find our family,” added Desdemona. “I believe they lived in this area for about a year or so. Can you help us?”
“As a matter of fact, I think I can,” said Cha Cha with a smile. “There was a simpatico (nice) dragonfly family that used to live around here. If memory serves, the father was bright orange and the mother was bright yellow.”
“Well, that makes sense since we are both bright orange-dash-yellow,” said Dorothea excitedly. “Do you know where they are now?”
“As a matter of fact, I think I do,” answered Cha Cha. “After they set their eggs, they told me they were going to a family reunion in Miami Beach. They said they were expecting their daughters Dagmar, Dakota and Dolores and their sons Deshawn, Dolph and Deepak. Desgraciadamente (unfortunately), they didn’t mention anything about a Dorothea or Desdemona.”
“I’m curious, Cha Cha,” inquired Desdemona. “Were they given names by Willow Wasp?”
“Si .. si … as a matter of fact, I think they were,” said Cha Cha. “She told me that Demetrius – that’s the father – and Desiree – that’s the mother – loved their names so much they asked her to name their entire brood of newborns.”
“Your reputation as a finder is well-founded, Cha Cha,” praised Desdemona. “Now if you could just tell us how to get to this Miami Beach.”
“Let me think … fly southeast … top speed of 20 miles an hour … 600 miles from here to Miami Beach … you should be there in a day or so,” Cha Cha replied. “Oh dear, I’ve talked for too long. Now it will take me forever to get back to where I was and start my metamorphosis. I’m a slow walker, you see.”
“Well how about that,” said Dorothea. “We dragonflies can’t walk at all. But we’re very strong fliers. How much do you weigh, Cha Cha?”
“Qué! That’s a very personal question to ask someone,” said Cha Cha defensively. “I know I have to drop a few ounces but I need to eat more right now than usual because …”
“You look fabuloso, Cha Cha,” interrupted Desdemona with a laugh. “We only ask because I think I have a solution to your problem. I do believe that working together, Dorothea and I can lift and carry you to where you need to go.”
“And you promise not to drop me?” asked Cha Cha nervously. “I’m not as tough as I look.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” said Desdemona proudly. “Once we grab ahold of something we never ever let go.”
“Just be still and guide us!” added Dorothea reassuringly, hovering over her.
Cha Cha lay flat and didn’t move a muscle as Dorothea and Desdemona gently lifted her into the sky and flew slowly across the pond.
After a few minutes, Cha Cha pointed out a tall, green bush with red berries. “Ve allá (over there) … that’s it,” she said. “You can let me off anywhere on that bush.”
The Sisters found a nice flat spot on one of the bush’s branches and released Cha Cha on the tip.
“Thank you so much for pointing us in the right direction,” said Dorothea. “It was very kind of you.”
“We hope we can see you again,” added Desdemona.
“The next time you see me I doubt very much if you’ll recognize me,” Cha Cha giggled. “I do hope you find your family … but if you don’t for whatever reason, you’re welcome to come back here and we can, well, hang out.”
“Thank you for that kind invitation,” said Desdemona sweetly. “We might just do that.”
“Adiós, Dragonfly Sisters,” exclaimed Cha Cha. “Be true to yourself!”
And with that, Cha Cha waved her six true legs at the Sisters.
“Have a nice metamorphosis!” shouted Dorothea, as she and her sister flew off towards the southeast.