Wednesday, December 19, 2012

EXCERPT: Honeysuckle Sycamore, Ch. 9


A lost bumble-bird was perched on the branch of a dogwood tree near the abandoned settlement that once thrived with the valley folk. The tiny creature had been out all day collecting pollen and twigs, but had wandered too far from its hive. Now the squat little fellow thought it best that he settle somewhere and get his bearings.
            He looked around at the dilapidated houses with their falling roofs and overgrown lawns. For a bumble-bird this was a prime twig-collecting area. His surroundings were silent. Only the river made any noise, its flow clearing obstacles from the little creature’s mind. Maybe he would be able to remember his way home.
            The quiet and still was not long lasting, however. From upstream came a gentle sloshing through the shallow edges of the river. It was a Passion, the first the bumble-bird had ever seen in his short life. For the valley had been abandoned of any such spirits for quite some time. Long before this little bumble-bird had been hatched in the hive.
            He looked curiously at the beautiful sprite that was Honeysuckle Sycamore. And, of course, the Passion noticed the bird at once and gleefully spoke to it.
            “Hey, bird,” Honeysuckle said. “I haven’t been here in such a long time. Are you new here? Or is this your tree now? Is that your branch? Though, I don’t suppose it matters. All the people are gone. You have your pick of branches and trees. But I have a feeling, bird. I have a feeling they’re all going to come back, and very soon. What do you say to that, bird? Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep in pumpkin patches again?”
            The bumble-bird cocked its tiny head. Soon the sprite walked on, looking through the homes and gardens with hungry wonder. The bird watched for a bit, then, after remembering a certain tree and its proximity to the hive, he flew in the direction of the hillside.
            He flew into the forest, gliding on a sweet breeze, until he again could not recognize his surroundings. So, again, he alighted upon a limb. Below him, struggling through the dense wood over large roots and hills was the strangest creature the little fella had ever seen. Stranger still then the sprite Honeysuckle Sycamore. This sprite was tortured and sad. She twitched and spasmed as she made a slow progression through the forest. Still, she was clearly on a mission. There was a direction to her chaotic journeying. It was as if she held a scent and was following it with an unalterable intent, tearing down limbs and plowing through mounds of leaves that stood in her way. What purpose, the little bird could not tell. But it headed off in the same direction. Perhaps where she was headed was where he needed to be as well.
            The bumble-bird flew past the sprite Grit until she could no longer be seen. Soon he came upon the most fearsome of all the things he had yet seen that wondrous day. A large, angry Passion was batting at the air wildly, and grumbling and moaning in crazed gestures. The bird had to fly higher to avoid being smashed to a pulp by the massive strength of the monster. He did not stay long in that area of the wood. He flew on away, but now in the direction of the angry Passion’s trek.
            At last, the little bumble-bird recognized some of its own hive mates sitting upon the rotting roof of a little chapel and he flitted off to join them. He buzzed and tweeted happy hellos at the relations, and spoke in birdspeak what he had seen on his journey. The other bumble-birds were amazed. They had all heard of Passions from the bumble-bird elders, but, the hive being so much farther up on the hillside, they had never actually seen one. And they weren’t so certain they wanted to see this angry-looking Passion seen headed toward the chapel.
            Down on the ground, a young monk watched them with apparent appreciation. The bumble-birds told their lost hive mate how wonderful the human was, and how he adored them. He gave them crumbs of bread and sweet water. They all agreed that they should remember the way back to the chapel. Fearing the crazed monster, however, they flew away, the little lost bumble-bird as well, for their hive.

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