'The Wasp' by Martin Day
"Careful, there's a wasp just by you. Don't move. I'll get it"...
If the Wasp had learnt one thing it was that people hated him. And to be truthful he was not so comfortable with himself either. Many times he had told himself that people were no good for him and that he should stay well away. But at the same time he found them irresistible. Whenever he saw them eating together at a patio table or sitting on a picnic rug he would move in to annoy them. He knew it was dangerous but he just felt drawn to disrupt what was going on. Inevitably they would scatter and end up swatting at him, which drove him wild. Often he would get hit and battered and would retreat to nurse the fresh wounds that cut into old ones. He knew it was useless. He couldn't understand why he never took his own advice to steer clear. He just couldn't seem to help himself. "It's just what nasty wasps do, I guess," he reflected. He learnt not to wear his heart on his sleeve. He'd hidden it away, even from himself. He was absorbed with his bitterness, his sense of rejection and his need to maintain a menacing exterior. Sometimes he hung out with the other wasps. They would all compete with each other to prove who was the worst and they’d dare each other to buzz passing people. The Wasp was always the worst. The gang might have looked like friends but the Wasp didn’t really like them. At least they accepted him. He would often retreat and skulk around on his own scavenging sweet things and rotten fruit and keeping others at a distance.
Now he sat lapping at the spent stick of an iced lolly. And as he did, he glanced at the nearby flower bed where a bee was settling on one of the flowers. As he watched, the bee busily gathered some nectar from the hollow centre of the flower and move on to the next. The bee was working hard but seemed happy and absorbed in his labours. The Wasp found the sight strangely appealing. ‘How charming and rustic,’ he thought. For a moment he felt envious of the bee's pleasure and sense of purpose. The bee was working quite close to him now and was bound to notice him at any second.
"So, who's slave are you?" he sneered, careful to communicate to the bee that he was a wasp and not to be messed with.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't see you there. What do you mean, 'slave'?"
"I mean why are you working so hard to get tiny drops of nectar when there are easy pickings just lying around? You bees are so stupid."
"But I couldn't carry that back," the bee replied looking at the lolly stick.
"You don't carry it. You don't see me carrying it, do you?" snarled the Wasp. "You eat it here, dummy."
"You don't understand," said the bee politely. "This isn't for me, it's for the colony. I'm not eating this myself."
"So you really are someone's slave!" mocked the Wasp triumphantly. He was on fine form today.
"I certainly don't feel like a slave," laughed the bee. "I love the hive, or should I say my colony that lives in it. They are my family and I'm pleased that my contribution helps."
"So the truth is: you can't stand on your own six feet," concluded the Wasp, even though the word 'family' had chimed with a longing deep within his hidden heart. "Sounds like you're simply institutionalised."
"That's an odd way to see family," pondered the bee. "Is that how you see your family?"
The Wasp smarted. He hadn't given anything away had he? How come he had tried so hard to put this insect in his place and yet it was the bee who had innocently struck a penetrating blow?
He tried to recover his composure.
“Ha!” he laughed a little too loudly. “I have no need for a family. I do what I want, when I want. No one tells me what to do. I call the shots in my life.”
“No one tells me what to do either. I just do what I see needs doing,” replied the Bee, “but, don't you find your way a bit … lonely?”
There! Despite the Wasp's best efforts the Bee had him on the ropes now and it only needed one more blow to finish him off. How had he done it? Yes, it burned at the core of the Wasp's hidden but aching heart. Had he been rejected? Yes. Had he been hurt? Yes. Did he crave kindness and companionship from the deepest part of him? Yes. Was he lonely? Of course he was.
“No.” It was all the fight he had left. He knew it was weak. All that now remained was for the Bee to finish him off, and expose the pathetic pretender that he knew he was.
“That's good then,” said the Bee and turned back to his nectar gathering. ‘Maybe he doesn’t know how close he was to exposing me after all,’ thought the Wasp. He decided to follow the Bee and see the hive it had spoken of. It sounded like an interesting place.
Eventually, when he was fully laden with nectar, the Bee made for home. The Wasp followed a few feet behind trying to look casual.
“Welcome back, brother,” shouted one of the bees on guard at the entrance to the hive. The hive looked simple and sturdy. It was made of wood, not like the papery affairs that the Wasp had seen some of his own species build.
“Who's that with you?” the guard asked.
“He's a friend I made in the gardens,” replied the Bee who then turned to the Wasp: “Would you like to come in? You'd be most welcome.”
This Bee seemed to be more knowing than he had first appeared, but he didn't seem to use his knowledge as a weapon.
The Wasp entered and paused just inside to take it all in. There were dozens of bees, maybe even hundreds. Many of them rushed to embrace the returning Bee and to help him unload his haul of nectar. It was like a family. Everyone seemed very sociable and some made polite conversation with the Wasp. But most of the attention was around the Bee for he was now dancing with delight and telling the others where he had found all his nectar. Soon the hive had all but emptied as a large party left to go after the new supply. The Bee turned to the Wasp,
“Would you like to meet the Queen?” he smiled.
... to be continued!
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© M Day 26-Jun-2008