First flight #flash fiction

First Flight #flashfiction

It’s almost spring here in the Southern Hemisphere. The garden is dressing up in blooms of many colours and filling the yard with the sweet scents of wattle, jasmine and other flowers. Bees busily collect the pollen, butterflies flutter from one flower to another, the butcherbirds sing joyously from the treetops, while the cockatoos noisily crack the wattle pods and prune the tree.

Things are starting to feel fresh and new again and encouraging me to emerge from my recent writerly hibernation. While, for the previous six years I’d hardly missed responding to a weekly flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch, I’ve not joined in for the past few months due to the demands of other work responsibilities. I finished that work a couple of weeks ago but have found it difficult to shake off the cobwebs and give creativity some air again. Perhaps spring and this week’s (extended) challenge provides the impetus for doing so.

In the current prompt, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight. It can be anything or anyone that flies. What is significant about the first? Go where the prompt leads!

When thinking of a first flight and spring, how could I not think of butterflies?

butterflies in the classroom

One of my favourite things to do with my children in the classroom was to have a butterfly house and observe the magic of all the life stages from egg to butterfly. It was wonderful to have this special little piece of nature up close in the classroom where we could see what you don’t always get to see in the world outside.

Every day we would watch, fascinated, as the caterpillars munched their way through leaf after leaf, growing bigger and bigger. We eagerly awaited the moment they would form themselves into ‘j’ shapes, alerting us that they were about to pupate.

We were amazed at how quickly they shed their last skin to reveal the beautiful chrysalis they had become. Then we would watch and wait until they were ready to emerge as butterflies.

We knew when it was almost time as the chrysalis would become transparent and we could see the wings through the case. When they finally emerged, we would give them time to spread and dry their wings before releasing them into the garden for their first flight.

The growth of a butterfly is a great analogy for creativity or the development of an idea or project. Sometimes a lot of hard work has to be expended before the idea is ready to take flight and the beauty becomes a reality.

Here is my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you like it.

Dear Butterfly, Love Caterpillar

Dear Butterfly,

You make the impossible seem possible. You inspire our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams. How can I be like you?

Dear Caterpillar,

Dreams create possibilities but now you are exactly who you were meant to be.

Dear Butterfly,

Life is monotonous. Everyone does the same thing, day after day. Shouldn’t life be more than this?

Dear Caterpillar,

Nothing happens overnight. Patience, determination and persistence will reward you in the end.

Dear Butterfly,

I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. I think I will sleep forever. Goodbye.

 

Wake up, butterfly. It’s time to spread your wings and fly!

 

Another angle

butterfly clipart image

venkatrao, A butterfly flying with a dotted path over a hill background https://openclipart.org/detail/69967/1278212857

I thought I’d also share a poem that I wrote many years ago in response to an inspector’s visit to our school. As the title says, it is not really about a butterfly and was written long before I became the Butterfly Lady at another school.

I had always believed, and still do, that the children are the most important thing in the classroom and that we do our best for them every day. The teacher next-door wasn’t of the same view. We were in a large teaching space with our own areas separated by some cupboards arranged between us.

She spent a lot of time sitting at her desk, barking at the children to pay attention to her words. She had little of interest on display in the classroom and even less of the children’s own work. It was quite a contrast to my own space which was filled with activity, colour and children’s work.

When the inspector’s visit was announced, she suddenly decided to decorate her room and display children’s work. I was so flummoxed by this, that I was almost tempted to do the opposite. I believed that if what I did on a daily basis wasn’t good enough for the inspector, then it wasn’t good enough for the children either. I resisted the urge to tear everything down in protest (which might have been considered a flight from the situation) and wrote this poem instead.

Before reading it, I want you to know that the teacher and I were both teaching (perhaps I use that word lightly) year two and she was considerably younger than I.

Not Really About A Butterfly

Look at you now.

You put on your show.

Your butterfly colours are warmly aglow.

 

It’s hard to imagine

That not long ago

You were a mere silent pupa

With nowhere to go.

 

You flit and you flutter,

Cry, “Hey, look at me!”

And all turn their heads,

Wondrous beauty to see.

 

But where have you come from?

And how can this be?

 

Before . . .

Not one head would have turned.

There was nothing to see

— just a little green ball,

curled up on a tree.

 

Is it dishonest

to change rapidly?

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

57 thoughts on “First Flight #flashfiction

  1. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Love both these pieces, Norah. Your FF is a clever take on the prompt and your poem a good vehicle for your anger about the other teacher’s hypocrisy. It’s one thing to have different priorities but outrageous she should put up pictures for the inspectors and not the children. Pity for those in her class.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Jennie

    This was a joy to read! I always love your writing and stories, and this was more than just one! Thank you for the butterfly and caterpillar letter, the poem, and the teacher next door. I think she must have known all along that you had it nailed and she didn’t. Best to you, Norah.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Miriam Hurdle

    Hi Norah, I’m glad your work load slow down a little. I liked your flash and your butterfly poetry. I just had a small caterpillar in my garden and I watched it eating almost all of my seedlings of Zinnias I just planted. But it was the first caterpillar I had and I could plant more flower seeds later. It transformed into a butterfly during the night so I didn’t see it. It was a small Cabbage White butterfly.

    I’m having a great time here with my daughter and granddaughters. Time goes by so fast. I came four days ago and I’m leaving in a couple days already.

    It’s summer here and it’s very hot. Enjoy your spring.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I like your attitude to the caterpillars, Miriam, letting them feast and then planting some more zinnias for yourself to enjoy.
      I’m so pleased to hear you are enjoying time with your granddaughters. Why does the time always fly when we’re enjoying ourselves?

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      1. Miriam Hurdle

        Yes, Norah. I have enough Zinnias for the season. Each day I do one project and play some games, or toys, or puzzles with Autumn. She’s at a age can do a variety of things. Nora is practicing her voice, and smiles a lot. I look forward to coming back next month.

        Liked by 1 person

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        1. Norah Post author

          That’s lovely that you are getting regular time to spend with Autumn and Nora, Miriam. That’s a wonderful way to develop a close relationship with them. You are very lucky. So are they.

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  4. dgkaye

    I loved your flash and butterfly poetry. And I especially like that you have a butterfly growth watch from caterpillar. A great introduction to evolution for the young ones, with fascination. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Steven

    It has been some time since I have checked in, and you appear to claim to have had a small hiatus, but as far as I’m concerned there has been no impact on your creativity.

    Your fiction was again something different and unique. It still surprises me how much story gets conveyed in so few words.

    I also like the way you dealt with your disgruntlement at the other teacher. You managed to control yourself and instead did something creative. That seems so… yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for checking in and leaving such a lovely comment, Steven. It’s great to hear from you again. I had been intending to email you to see how you were faring but, like so many of my good intentions, it got swallowed up the pressure of deadlines. I assume you’ve been safe through the crisis and I hope you stay that way. Your hotspot down there might be cooling but ours seems to be warming up at the moment. I look forward to the scientists finding a solution for us.
      Stay safe.

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      1. Steven

        Thanks Norah and likewise; good intentions get swallowed up by the everyday happenings.

        Times are strange but I suppose they make things interesting and different – perhaps a challenge we could go without but at least it makes us think differently.

        Liked by 1 person

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        1. Norah Post author

          It has certainly challenged our thinking, in some ways positively and in others not quite so. I hope it hasn’t impacted you, your family and your work too much.

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  6. Jules

    I think caterpillars and butterflies can teach us a variety of lessons.
    While some of the most intriguing moth caterpillars have unique colors most moths remain bland in color able to camouflage so as not to get eaten. Many butterflies use their brilliant colors as warning; “Don’t eat me.”

    An enjoyable read. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Dear Caterpillar,
    Thank you so much for your perseverance and determination. Who would I be, but for you? You are most beautiful, inside and out, and I am most grateful.
    You fed our dreams!
    Sincerely, Butterfly

    I love the form (and substance) of your flash! And the poem is darn deep too. Is it dishonest to change rapidly? Hmm. It’s not quite transformation, is it?

    You gave wings to your creativity this week. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, D. I absolutely love your final letter. It is perfect. I wish I’d written it. I actually started off thinking that the butterfly would write the letter to her younger self (the caterpillar) as some people do – write letters to their younger selves, but decided on this format instead.
      I didn’t think the change I saw was transformation but then, who am I to judge?
      Thanks for your kind encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

        It certainly was not transformation. That one was remaining a lazy caterpillar, not putting in the time or effort that gives wing. That’s why I love your final question in your poem.
        I your letters for the sense of a real mentor and model for the caterpillar.
        Good all around, Buddy. Or shall I say, Butterfly Lady?

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Jim. I appreciate your comment about my story. It is indeed a miraculous transformation.
      She never did see the poem, Jim. I didn’t share it with anyone until a few years ago I added it to my (small) page of poetry here. I’m not sure if anyone has seen it though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. Susan Scott

    Gorgeous description of spring emerging Norah! I’ve been on the hunt yesterday and today for some seedlings to plant in prep for spring proper. Scored a few things today, still to plant. Loved your flash fiction and your poem from long ago. Rapidly and tree rhyme so perfectly! Glad to see you’re back on board 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. Hugh W. Roberts

    She sounded a rather lazy teacher who had little time for anybody but herself, Norah. Maybe she was in the wrong career? I feel so sorry for the children in her class. However, sometimes, it takes physical action to change things. After all, ice-cream only melts when action moves it to a different environment or when action is taken with the temperature. I feel I’m mumbling, but I hope it makes some sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I don’t like to speak badly of others, Hugh, but her class wasn’t very motivated. Perhaps the realisation that she needed to show more for the year’s work prompted her to continue that way. I really don’t remember much after that. Although we worked beside each other, we didn’t have much to do with each other outside of the classroom (or in it for that matter). Thank you for trying to help me make sense of it.

      Liked by 1 person

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  10. robertawrites235681907

    I loved your flash, Norah. Very clever. With regards to your poem, it is very meaningful. The dishonesty would depend on how long the change lasted. If it was just for a day, then it is dishonest, if it is a real change, that is different. People can change for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Robbie. You’re right. People can change. I don’t think she did though. It was just show for the inspector. To have children’s work to display, she had to get them to do some – funny the things we remember.

      Liked by 1 person

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        1. Norah Post author

          I thought it was quite dishonest but I guess she had her reasons and had to live with herself. She must have felt what she was doing on a daily basis wasn’t good enough. Maybe she didn’t know how.

          Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Darlene. I think you’re right about that. Some think it’s going to be an easy 9-3 job. Some try to make it so but it doesn’t usually work out well for the children.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Carol. You know, I think that teacher was a Jenny too, now that you mention it. I’m not sure what became of her. Now you’ve got me wondering too.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Geoff. I haven’t thought about what that teacher may have done after that year. I was at that school for another three years and don’t remember her after that. I moved to year one the following year. Perhaps she was transferred or maybe she decided it wasn’t for her. It’s funny that I’ve really never given her another thought, just immortalised her behaviour in a poem.

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