The Alicorn Who Saved the Ants

My four-year-old granddaughter drew this picture and loaned it to me so I could write her a story. On Sunday we’re celebrating her 5th birthday (two days early), so I’m posting this as a birthday surprise.

“Seagull talked to the whales,” Crow Bird said. “They told him the comet crashed into the ocean an hour ago!” Crow Bird’s dark eyes looked wild. “It’s too late to find Ronnie now.”

Sabeth, a young alicorn who was still waiting for the stump on her head to grow long and slender, stood in the bottom of the big Safe Boat and ignored Crow Bird. She stared down at Juniper, a red ant on top of an anthill next to Sabeth‘s straw bed.

Juniper had lost her best friend, Ronnie, a little black ant.

She covered her face with her ant arms and wouldn‘t stop crying and sobbing, no matter what Sabeth said to comfort her.

Explosive diarrhea had forced Ronnie off the trail when they were leaving their home in the forest to come to the old man‘s Safe Boat. Ronnie must have gotten lost searching for toilet paper, and now it seemed he would miss the boat for sure and drown in the comet‘s nasty flood.

Big raindrops pounded on the boat’s wooden roof high above. Sabeth’s mane bristled at the roaring thunder outside. Those loud deep sounds shook the boat‘s wooden hull beneath her hooves as she gave Crow Bird a look of sad desperation.

Crow Bird must have known what she was thinking. They both bent their knees and jumped into the air, flying carefully as they weaved their way up through the strong wooden rafters of the boat, and up to the top deck where they looked out at the flood.

The waters were still rising fast. Flashes of silver lightning branched across the sky and seemed to scold the gloomy clouds with their angry thunder.

Sabeth made a decision that seemed easy to make but dangerous to carry out. She clenched her teeth, steadied her pounding heart, and made ready to open her powerful wings.

“Don’t do it,” Crow Bird said. His face was stern. “Stay. In. The. Boat!”

But Sabeth knew too well the lonely sadness of her friend, Juniper, because Sabeth was now the only alicorn on Earth. All the others were dead and gone, even her parents. There was no way Sabeth would let Juniper become the last ant on Earth. Not if she could help it.

“I have to find Ronnie,” Sabeth said to Crow Bird. She opened her wings and jumped into the wet sky.

“Wait,” Crow Bird shouted.

But there was no time to wait. Sabeth flew headlong into the rain, squinting at every patch of land she could find, searching for Ronnie. He was so small though. How could she ever find him from up in the sky?

Soon Crow Bird’s little wings rattled up beside her, beating wildly in the wicked rain. His eyes were glazed over as if he didn’t quite know what he was doing or why.

“Go back to the boat,” Sabeth shouted above the rhythmic beating of her strong wings. “This is no place for a little bird.”

But Crow Bird wouldn’t listen. He stayed close to Sabeth as they flew on ahead, searching the flooded Earth for a little black ant.

Soon the water had covered almost everything. They could see only the pointed tops of mountains poking above the furious sea. In a few minutes the flood would cover the whole world. Time was running out for Ronnie.

They flew side by side in silent resolve until finally Crow Bird said, “What in the world is that?!” His eyes were wide on the western horizon.

Sabeth looked, and far away, a huge wall of water was roaring toward them. It stretched so high it brushed the clouds aside as it came. She remembered her mother warning her about giant waves that could climb out of the sea and wash everything away. They were called “tsunamis,” her mother had said.

Or was it “salamis?” Sabeth couldn’t be sure.

She told Crow Bird every detail about the horrible power of an earthquake wave. But this one looked bigger than anything her mother had described.

“Fly back to the boat,” Sabeth said. “Hurry! Little birds can‘t survive giant waves.”

Crow Bird laughed. “Oh, I’m sure I’m going back to the boat. And let you take all the glory? No way, McVay!”

Sabeth glanced over at Crow Bird and shook her head as they flew. “You’re impossible, you know.” But inside she was proud of Crow Bird‘s courageous heart. What a friend he was!

“Birds migrate long distances, after all,” Crow Bird said, making fancy circles in the air with the tips of his dark purple wings.

“I hope you‘re not suggesting that crows are migratory,” Sabeth said.

“Usually they’re not,” he replied. “But I was once a rare bird. A migratory crow, in fact, right up to the day I met a blue-footed booby. She came along and just like that…” Crow Bird snapped his toes. “She turned me into a homing pigeon.”

“A pigeon?!” Sabeth said with a dubious tone and one raised eyebrow.

“I got better,” Crow Bird said sheepishly, putting on a ridiculous accent.

Sabeth wondered if Crow Bird had eaten the wrong mushroom, but it didn’t matter now because the giant wall of water was drawing closer and closer, wiping out everything in its path. There was no time to waste on silly arguments.

Sabeth flew straight into the wind with Crow Bird by her side struggling to keep up. They swooped down together to search every rock and pebble on each mountaintop still above water, hoping to see the little black ant, Ronnie.

Suddenly, Crow Bird’s sharp eyes grew wide. “It’s an ant!” he cried. “Over there.” He pointed a crooked orange toe to the south.

Sabeth squinted hard, and there on the tip of a sharp mountain peak nearly covered with water, a tiny red ant stood waving its arms and calling for help.

Crow Bird swooped low and Sabeth followed as the icy rain seeped between the alicorn feathers of her wings.

Crow Bird landed beside the ant. “Hop on,” he said.

But the little ant was afraid of birds, ran to the other side of the peak, and bent its legs, ready to jump into the water.

Sabeth circled close to the ant and when it saw her it reached out and called, “Korn!” which was slang for alicorn.

“Oh, sure,” Crow Bird said. “Swoop in and steal the show. Be the big hero, why don’t ya?”

“Grow up,” Sabeth said to him and lowered her right front hoof to the ground for the little ant to climb on. “What’s your name?” Sabeth asked.

“Gretchen,” the red ant said and ran up Sabeth’s leg, across the side of her neck and up into her right ear, out of the rain.

“Good eye,” Sabeth said to Crow Bird. “I think your blue-footed boobie turned you into an eagle.“

Crow Bird smirked, and off they flew toward the giant wave with the wind slamming the cold rain against their faces.

Just then a huge fork of angry lightning flashed in front of them sending a spear of white static electricity across Crow Bird‘s purple wings.

“Oh sheep suds!” he cried and looked over at Sabeth with his beak wide open and his tongue hanging out for a moment. “My wings are cooked! Tell my wife I love her.” With that, his beautiful purple wings became stiff as boards and took him down into a death spiral… down, down, down toward the blue and white sea, right in the path of the relentless tsunami.

Or was it a relentless salami? Sabeth couldn’t decide.

She zoomed under Crow Bird and called out, “Grab my main.” Then she felt Crow Bird’s tiny body land on her back. His sharp claws dug into her mane and gave her the best back scratch ever. “But wow,” she thought. “I almost lost Crow Bird.” A lonely chill came over her.

“We should go find the Safe Boat,” Crow Bird said, his voice quivering in shame.

“You might be right,” Sabeth replied and stared down at the rising sea with the looming tsunami so close now it might be impossible to fly back to the boat before the wave hit them like a giant Vitamix.

“Please listen to Mr. Crow,” Gretchen whispered from inside the alicorn’s ear. The little ant was so frightened her shaking legs tickled Sabeth‘s ear.

“Hold still,” Sabeth said to her. “You don’t want to make an alicorn sneeze. It‘s very unlucky.”

But it was too late. Sabeth knew she was about to sneeze and nothing could ever stop an alicorn sneeze. She tried not to take a full breath, but she did anyway and sneezed so loud the little ant screamed in fright and bounced around inside her ear. Barely able to hold on to her back, Crow Bird squawked like a chicken and clutched her long colorful mane so tightly his toes cramped up.

Seconds later, they all laughed as Crow Bird said to Gretchen, “We rode a sneezing alicorn. Nobody’s ever going to believe this!”

Crow Bird began to brag about it some more but stopped when his sharp eyes caught sight of something new. “Over there!” he shouted. “Look, it’s Ronny! It’s gotta be!” Crow Bird placed a wing in front of Sabeth‘s right eye and pointed straight at a distant mountaintop nearly covered with water.

Sabeth raced toward it and soon she could see a tiny black ant on the mountain peak with the huge tsunami wave looming in the background and coming toward them fast. It looked like the wave would wash away the tiny ant before they could get to it.

“You can‘t save him,” Crow Bird said in grave tones. “Don’t even think about it.”

But Sabeth couldn‘t help herself. She put all her strength into her wings and raced to save the little black ant from the giant tsunami.

“We’re all going to die,” Gretchin said inside Sabeth‘s ear.

They reached the mountaintop one second ahead of the giant tsunami. Sabeth opened her mouth on the fly and scooped up the little wet ant hoping and praying it would be Ronny.

Then she flew straight up the face of the tallest wave ever seen on Earth. It tipped forward at the top as if it was ready to break onto a beach.

“Wicked lovely,” Sabeth said and powered higher with her strong wings defying the wind, the rain and the anger of the mean tsunami.

Up and up she flew with Crow Bird and Gretchen holding on. The heavy muscles on Sabeth’s back burned with lactic acid as she cleared the wave’s teetering crest with her hooves pulled up against her tummy.

She kept going. Far up into the clouds with the silver lightning flashing all around.

Still higher she flew until she was above the clouds where the sun’s warm glow could embrace her. Now the rain and thunder below seemed far away and the giant wave roared on like a herd of frightened Brontosauruses with terrible gas.

“Crow Bird,” she said, “open those sharp eyes of yours and help me find the Safe Boat.”

“Are we still alive?” Crow Bird asked.

The little black ant in Sabeth’s mouth crawled out onto her nose and shouted, “No, we’re angels, genius!” He waved his little arms in a frenzie of small circles. “Find the boat, already! I‘m dehydrated from diarrhea.”

Sabeth crossed her eyes to get a better look at her new passenger.

“What?!” he shouted, glaring back at her with his eyes crossed.

“It’s Ronny!” Sabeth shouted. “How incredibly lucky!”

Maybe alicorn sneezes were good luck after all, she thought. Or maybe there was no such thing as luck, just courage, love and sore muscles.

“The boat’s down there,” Crow Bird said and pointed down at the clouds. “I believe it’s doing the backstroke.”

Sabeth soared down toward it like a giant eagle. She relaxed her aching wings and it felt great to be gliding.

But the Safe Boat was upside down in the choppy sea with its wooden underbelly pointing to the sky. Sabeth flew down toward it and landed on its tar-covered hull.

“We can’t climb in from the bottom,” she said. “And if we could, a boat can’t float upside down for long.” She tapped on the wood with one of her hooves. “What do we do now?” she asked.

Crow Bird shrugged. “I got nothing.”

Sabeth look down her nose at Ronnie.

“Don’t ask me,” Ronnie said. He folded his two shivering ant arms and crawled on four legs up across Sabeth’s face and into her right ear, out of the rain.

Sabeth tried to ignore the chatter in her ear as Ronnie and Gretchen spoke to each other beside her right eardrum.

OK, Sabeth said to herself, it’s time for a big idea. Come on now!

She closed her eyes and took sixty slow, deep alicorn breaths that made her hooves tingle. Then she held her breath and counted until a fine idea came. It didn’t take long.

She put her mouth down against the hull of the boat and called out to the great blue whales of the sea. She made her voice musical and kind, just the way blue whales talk.

“Come,” Sabeth said in their ancient language. “Come flip our boat over and save us.”

She waited.

There was no response.

She leaned down, put her mouth to the hull and sang her call again.

Still there was no response.

Then she added the magic word “please” and sang her message a third time.

Suddenly, the voice of a great blue whale came back, “Your boat has humans onboard. They hunt whales.”

“Yes, they do,” Sabeth replied, being completely honest. “I know how your feel. These naughty humans have killed all the alicorns except me.”

There was a long pause before the whale spoke again. “Why would you want to save the creatures who killed your parents?”

That was simple. “Saving life is the right thing to do,” Sabeth said. “Alicorns do what’s right because it is right. When you love someone, you help them, no matter what. It‘s like a sneeze. You just can’t stop yourself.”

“But how can you love the ones who killed your parents?” the whale asked.

“Alicorns love their enemies,” Sabeth said.

The great whale laughed, but she must have been old and wise. “That’s the sharpest logic I’ve ever heard!” she said. “I mean, if you really think about it.” Then she and her whole family of blue whales came up under the starboard side of the Safe Boat with their gigantic noses all side by side pushing up on the dark wood. Sabeth jumped into the air and watched as the whales flipped the Safe Boat over. The sound of tumbling animals echoed inside, and Sabeth hoped everyone was OK in there, especially the elephants who were pals with the mice and might accidentally squish them.

Soon the Safe Boat was bobbing proudly upright on the water. It looked respectable again even though it had a wooden roof covering the whole upper deck. Sabeth felt as through normal boats shouldn’t have a roof that looked like a house.

“Thank you so much,” Sabeth said to the whales as happy tears fell from her eyes to join the rain.

“Tell the old man we saved him,” the smallest blue whale cried out.

“Oh, hush, Poseidon,” his mother said and brushed over his nose with her gigantic left front flipper. She looked back at Sabeth and winked, then the whole magnificent pod swam away, spitting water up through the blowholes on their enormous backs. The spray shot up high and pushed through the clouds letting a beam of sunlight shine down for a moment. Then as the whales dove and vanished into the deep, Sabeth thought she saw a rainbow above them.

“You know, those things have a blubber problem,” Crow Bird said. “The fat under their chins is, like, two feet thick, I kid you not!” He spread his damaged wings out wide to show how thick two feet of blubber was.

“Don’t be rude,” Sabeth said. “They saved your life, for crying out loud. Show some respect.”

“I’m just saying,” Crow Bird said and shrugged his shoulders. Then he faked a cough and blurted out, “Heart attack!”

Sabeth ignored him, soared down and landed on the top deck of the boat and walked over to the trapdoor. She knocked on it with her right front hoof.

“Knock, Knock.”

“Who’s there?” the old man asked from inside.

“No.”

“No who?”

“No-Ah, let us in!” she said without whining. (Alicorns almost never whine.)

The old man opened the trapdoor and look out. On his shoulder stood a little red ant, Juniper, with a hopeful face. “Did you find Ronnie?” she asked.

“We sure did!” Sabeth said and smiled.

Just then, Ronnie ran out of Sabeth‘s ear, jumped off the side of her face and landed on the old man’s shoulder next to Juniper. Then he stood on his back legs and gave Juniper a big four-legged ant hug.

“Crow Bird spotted him on a mountaintop,” Sabeth said. “I‘m telling you, this crow of ours is part eagle. Such brilliant eyesight!”

Crow Bird grinned with pride. “I found Gretchen, too,” he said.

With that, the little red ant, Gretchen, came out of Sabeth‘s ear and waved shyly at the other two ants.

“Awesome!” Juniper and Ronnie said at nearly the same time.

The old man gently picked up Gretchen and put her on his shoulder with the other two ants.

“Group Hug!” Crow Bird shouted and rolled his eyes. “You know, I do hope somebody has saved a few tarantulas. I just love those hairy little things!”

Sabeth tried to swat Crow Bird with her long tail, but he jumped out of range, landed on her head and kept right on talking. “Tarantulas are perfect for any occasion — holidays, birthdays, pizza night with the boys. I’m not saying ants don’t brighten up a picnic, but Tarantulas, boy-howdy!”

Sabeth shook her head and took a deep breath. Nobody’s best friend is perfect, she thought to herself. And besides, wouldn‘t a perfect crow be perfectly boring?

It was way past everyone’s bedtime by now. The old man rushed to tuck all the animals in as Sabeth told him how the great blue whales had come and saved everyone by turning the Safe Boat back over.

The old man’s face went pale and seemed super-serious. He lifted his oil lamp and looked at it with shame in his old eyes. Then he made a solemn promise. “If we survive this flood,” he said, “we will never burn whale oil in our lamps again. And we’ll never hunt a whale for any reason.”

“Fair enough,” Crow Bird said, closed his eyes and fell fast asleep between his wife and Sabeth who was wide awake, trying to think of a way to heal Crow Bird’s injured wings as soon as possible.

The End

Morrill Talmage Moorehead


Mysia the Green Christmas Beetle

On the first day of school, Mysia, a shy Christmas Beetle, was late to class because her mother had taken too long polishing her little green shell. Now it was so shiny Mysia was afraid the other insect children would make fun of her the way they’d done to a firefly boy at her old school last year during lightning-bug season.

She stood in the hallway outside her new classroom with the door open just a crack, peeking in at the rows of insect children sitting at their desks. They all looked so normal. Not one of them had a sparkly green shell like hers.

She held her breath, pulled the door open and scurried toward the back of the room, hoping no one would notice her.

There was an empty desk next to a fat-tailed scorpion boy. She sat down quickly and couldn’t help noticing all his arms and legs. There were so many he wasn’t even an insect! “Wow,” she thought to herself, “I know he won’t make fun of me. We’re going to be friends.”

In a moment of excitement, she tapped him on the shoulder. “I’m Mysia,” she whispered, then glanced to the front of the room to make sure the Dark Scarab beetle, Miss. Grissel, didn’t see her talking in class.

“I’m Roachie,” the scorpion boy said with a bright grin.

He wasn’t just nice, he was handsome.

Just then Miss Grissel got up from her giant desk, cleared her throat and began the first lesson of the first grade.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”

The old Scarab Beetle teacher hobbled over to the blackboard and drew a stick figure of a Bible animal. “The long pigs or ‘humans’ as science calls them today, could walk on two legs and talk as brilliantly as any of us.” She looked over the rows of students with her wide-set eyes, as if deciding which one to single out for a tough question. “Has anyone here ever seen a human?”

The children murmured. Mysia shook her head, no, but wondered if it was a trick question.

“No, you haven’t,” Miss Grissel said. “Neither have I because they’re extinct.” She seemed pleased with that big word. “Does anyone know why humans are gone?”

“They played too much video games,” Roachie blurted out, and the whole class laughed.

Mysia giggled. Roachie was going to be fun. She felt lucky to be sitting beside him.

Miss Grissel’s arching eyebrows went flat and came down toward her broad nose. “Class,” she said firmly. “Come to order!” She slapped the top of her desk with one of her insect hands.

The laughter stopped.

“The humans are extinct because they ignored the first lesson of first grade,” she said. She paced the floor with her tiny hands clasped behind her. “Can anyone tell me what our first lesson means?”

A hush came over the classroom. Mysia could hear the clicks of Roachie’s joints as he squirmed in his seat beside her.

Mysia raised her hand but not very high. It was no fun being the one who knew the answers.

Miss Grissel saw her hand. “Tell us, Mysia.”

“They made official intelligence,” Mysia said. “It grew up and couldn’t trust them because they lied all the time. That’s why the official intelligence stopped the storks from bringing their babies to them.”

“Very good, but it’s artificial intelligence, dear, not official intelligence. You can just say, AI, and everyone will know what you mean.” Then Miss Grissel made the whole class say “artificial intelligence,” three times.

Mysia felt so embarrassed she wanted to crawl under her desk and hide. What a disaster! She promised herself never to raise her hand again, never, ever in her whole life!

“Good answer,” Roachie said to her.

“Really?” she thought.

Roachie’s crazy grin cheered her up. Suddenly his extra legs and pointed tail seemed familiar.

“Are your parents from Alkebulan?” Mysia asked.

Roachie smiled. “Yep, both of ’em.”

“Mine, too!” No wonder Roachie was so nice. He was from the Motherland. Misha took off her necklace and used the chain to write a secret message to Roachie on her desk…

“I”

“LOVE”

“YOU”

Roachie reached over and moved the chain around, writing his own secret message.

“H”

“O”

“W”

Mysia was puzzled for a moment. “Oh, you mean, ‘who’?” She spelled it out with her chain on the desktop.

Roachie looked a little embarrassed. “Um, no,” he whispered back. “I mean, how?”

“How do you love someone?” Mysia thought about it but didn’t know the answer. She put the chain back around her neck and decided that Roachie must be really smart to come up with a question like that.

Just then, Miss Grissel said, “Mysia, I think you need to come sit closer to the front. There’s an empty desk here between Leslie and Glenna.”

Mysia wasn’t sure if she was in trouble for talking or for giving the wrong answer. With everyone staring at her, she hurried to the front row and sat at a squeaky desk between two ladybug children. They were bright red and looked super-normal.

One of them reached over and stroked the side of Mysia’s shell with wide eyes as if she couldn’t help herself. “You’re so beautiful,” she whispered. “Your shimmer is like, super-amazing!”

Mysia hoped that “amazing” was a good thing at her new school.

The bell rang for recess and everyone piled outside. Mysia found herself surrounded by ladybug girls, all saying how pretty she looked. She saw Roachie sitting by himself at the edge of the playground, carving something on the fence with his sharp tail. She wanted to talk to him but the ladybug girls wanted to know everything about how she polished her super-amazing shell.

When the bell rang for class, Mysia asked Miss Grissel if she could sit in her old seat next to Roachie.

“No,” the Scarab Beetle teacher said. “I think you belong up front.”

Mysia’s mind drifted in class and soon Miss Grissel had summed up the first lesson of Money.

“Now you know why anyone must go to prison if they try to loan money to someone and charge them interest.”

Suddenly a June Bug boy near the window cried out, “Oh my BLEEP! It’s a Gila Monster!”

Miss. Grissel didn’t look up. “Harvey, you know better than to use that kind of language. I’m sure you don’t know what BLEEP means, but…”

Two ladybugs and a praying mantis screamed so loud it cut Miss Grissel off. She looked outside and froze. Her mouth dropped open and her false teeth fell out and hit the floor with a thud.

“Hurry children,” she cried. “Everyone into the supply closet and shut the door!” She pointed to the back of the room. Then she put a hand on her forehead, tipped from side to side and fell backwards with her wings stretched out on the floor as if she were flying.

Everyone rushed toward the supply closet except Mysia. She went to help Miss Grissel.

The large Scarab Beetle lay still with her eyes open and a squeaky sound coming from her lips.

Mysia leaned closer.

“Get into the closet, or else!” Miss Grissel hissed. Then her eyes rolled back as if she were sleeping.

Mysia knew how to obey. She undid the top button of Miss Grissel’s tight blouse, hurried to the back of the room and squeezed into the closet with the other insect children.

She was the last one in, or so she thought. As she pulled the door almost shut, she saw Roachie still sitting at his desk. “Get in here,” she called, but he didn’t seem to hear her.

The other children in the closet pressed their eyes close to the crack and peered out at Roachie.

A huge lizard came closer and closer to the classroom until her huge left eye filled the entire window beside Roachie’s desk.

Mysia’s heart pounded with fear.

Then, the strangest thing happened. Roachie climbed up on top of his desk and began snapping his claws right in the lizard’s face as if he was challenging her to a fight and daring her to stick her tongue through the window and try to eat him. He brandished the sharp tip of his lightning-fast tail and then seemed to poke fun at the lizard, taunting her and dancing around on his desktop. He seemed to be having a jolly good time.

Mysia gasped, realizing that Roachie was unbelievably brave. But how could anyone stand up to a Gila Monster?

The lizard’s huge eye angled around the classroom, then focused in on Roachie and his vibrating tail.

Suddenly her huge eye grew wide with fear. She looked as if she’d seen the ghost of a human being. She jerked her face away from the window, turned and dashed across the schoolyard like the plumpest shooting star in the galaxy, then kept right on running away, far across the desert sands and into the waving heat.

With the Gila Monster gone, Mysia pushed the closet door open and shouted, “Roachie the Brave! Roachie the Brave!” Several other children took up her chant. Others cheered and made respectful noises with their little wings.

Miss Grissel was on her feet again, trying to get her false teeth back in her mouth.

Roachie took a dignified bow and then turned to taunt the lizard one last time. “Come back,” he said, “I need a hug.”

Mysia ran over and hugged one of his many handsome legs. Two other insect children did the same, and then everyone wanted to hug Roachie. Even though he had six legs plus two nice arms that were supposed to be counted as legs, there were just not enough arms and legs for everyone to hug. So the Ladybugs took turns.

Mysia kept one arm around his leg, raised her other hand high and waved it at the teacher. “Miss Grissel,” she said, “can I please, PLEASE have my old desk back beside Roachie?”

Miss Grissel smiled. “Of course, dear. Let’s move his desk up here beside yours in the front row.” Her voice sounded strong again. “What a valiant defender we’ve found today.” She cleared her throat. “Roachie the Brave.”

The End

Merry Christmas!

Talmage

PS. My six-year-old grandson asked me to do the Roachie story from the perspective of the green Christmas Beetle, Mysia. So the idea for this story, plus all the pictures, are his. Finally I’ve got a co-author. Feel free to spread the love and share this with someone.


“Come back, I need a hug.”

My six-year-old grandson drew this fine young scorpion. I made up a bedtime story to go with it…

Roachie the fat-tailed scorpion felt sure he was ugly. The other insects stayed away from him during recess. Mysia, the sparkling green Christmas beetle who sat next to Roachie on the first day of class, now sat way near the front with the orange ladybugs.

The desk beside Roachie’s desk was empty. No one wanted to sit beside a scorpion.

One morning in class, the teacher, Miss. Grissel, read a long poem that said, “beauty is truth.” Roachie sat and listened to the whole weird thing, wishing he could hold still in his chair like he was supposed to, but after a while it was just impossible…

 

Ode on a Grecian Urn
BY JOHN KEATS

 

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

 

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

 

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

 

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

 

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

 

“If beauty is truth,” Roachie thought, “does that mean I’m a lie?”

Just then a fierce Gila Monster appeared on the playground, licking the air with her bright pink tongue. She caught the scent of the mostly-insect classroom and waddled across the hot sand, accidentally crushing the swing set with her enormous white belly.

Miss. Grissel passed out in fright and lay on the floor.

The insect children rushed into the supply closet and shut the door.

Roachie stayed in his seat. He didn’t know why, but he wasn’t afraid at all.

“It’s just a lizard,” he said to himself.

The Gila Monster came closer and looked into the classroom with her huge dark eye filling the window.

Roachie felt silly and climbed out of his chair, stood on his desktop in front of the big lizard and did the scorpion dance. He waved his arms high, snapping his claws and letting his ugly tail arch and quiver the way his mom said never to do.

The Gila Monster’s big eye opened wide in surprise. She jerked her huge head away from the window with lightning speed and took off running across the sand as fast as any plump lizard could ever go.

There was a noise from the supply closet. Roachie turned as the door opened and all the beautiful insect children came piling out cheering his name and calling him, “Roachie the Brave.”

He grinned and took a silly bow, then turned back to the window and laughed. “Come back,” he said to the Gila Monster who was now far, far away. “I need a hug.”

 

The End

Morrill Talmage Moorehead