For once in my life, I woke up before my wife. Well, perhaps “wake up” wasn’t the correct term to use; I wasn’t fast asleep, yet my eyes were closed, I lay down, and I was thinking about the dream I just had. Not quite awake, not quite asleep. I didn’t get up as quickly as Katie did, so I preferred to savour this rare state of mind.
It only lasted a few minutes before Katie sprung up and said, ‘Wake up!’ like a child on Christmas morning. ‘I am awake,’ I replied as I stretched my appendages, making the stalk we were on bounce slightly. Still I lay, but Katie leapt up in the air, showing off her bright green wings.
‘Come on, lazy bones,’ she said, ‘let’s go!’
‘Go where?’ I said, stretching again.
‘Well, out!’ replied Katie with a laugh, ‘Where else?’
‘Oh, not this again…’
‘Percy,’ sighed Katie, landing back on the stalk, ‘come on. We’ve been in this garden forever. I want to go somewhere else. I want to expand my horizons!’
‘Katie,’ I said, ‘what’s wrong with this garden? It’s safe, it’s beautiful, and it’s so nice when the humans come out here for tea.’ Indeed, on hot summer days, the humans that owned this garden came out onto a table, where they’d have a cup of tea, discuss their world, and sometimes they would lie down in the shade and read books. Katie and I would sometimes flutter over to them and see if we could sip some tea out of the cups. It didn’t bother the humans; they either just commented on how pretty we were, or just ignored us.
‘That’s just it,’ replied Katie, ‘Haven’t you listened to what they talk about? All the places they’ve been to, all the things they’ve seen, all the things they read about in those books. Like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pig before. I’ve heard the children talk about them, but I’ve never seen one.’
I stretched again, tapping my head just to help me think more clearly. ‘I’ve heard them talk about things out there, but some of them sound really dangerous. Like just the other day they were talking about a creature called Mr. Owl, who ate a metal worm. If he can devour a worm made out of metal…’
‘I heard that too. They also mentioned something about “Palindrome”. Maybe that’s where Mr. Owl lives. If we avoid that place, we’ll be fine.’
‘Still, there are some things out there that want to eat us. Their cat batting at us is annoying enough without going around facing more creatures.’
‘Well, what about their dog? What about…what do they call him…Duke? You like landing on his nose and looking at him, don’t you?’ I do, as well, but I didn’t say that. ‘Maybe there’s more creatures like Duke. Well, not exactly like him, similar in some ways but different in others. What I’m trying to say is, there is a variety of animals and places out there, and if we just stay in this garden, we aren’t going to see them.’
‘But what’s wrong with just staying here? There’s good food and it’s relaxing and the humans here don’t have nets! Did I tell you they make nets for the sole purpose of catching us?’
Katie sighed, before flying up into the air again and even performing a somersault. ‘We aren’t caterpillars anymore. We aren’t helpless.’
‘I’m sorry, Katie,’ I said, ‘it’s just…I like it here.’
‘Every time we have this conversation,’ replied Katie, ‘we end up staying here. Well, if you’re not going out, I’m going by myself. See you soon.’ And off she flew.
I couldn’t help but fly off after her, with a ‘Wait for me.’
Both of us beat our wings as hard as possible, reaching higher and higher and higher. Katie pointed down and said ‘Look’ and I saw our garden. Our tiny little garden, nothing compared to the great big garden nearby, not even attached to a house. Nothing compared to the fields that seemed to stretch on indefinitely, making our garden’s house seem just a white speck in comparison.
Katie dove, and I dove after her. She soared over the fields, over the roads, then through the buildings. I tried to do as she did, but I never had her energy, so as she explored the streets, I plopped down on a hedge to catch my breath.
‘Come on, lazy!’ She quickly found me. ‘We’ve got more stuff to see!’
We flew past several gardens, all smaller than the one we lived in, but each offering us little snacks. After I said to Katie that those snacks replenished my energy, she challenged me to a race around the town. Even though she didn’t have a finishing place in mind and I knew she would win if she did, I accepted. Through the houses and through the people we weaved, with me flapping my wings even though they ached.
We flew away from those buildings and towards different buildings, ones taller and greyer. Well, not completely grey. When Katie landed on a dustbin and said, ‘I win’, I noticed walls covered with colourful artwork I couldn’t turn away from. I pointed them out to Katie, and we sat on the dustbin for hours, staring at the pictures. Places we had never been and creatures we had never seen, and of course, it made Katie want to travel more.
Through more buildings we went, searching for more artwork. Onto the roads we went, sitting on the cars as they drove by. When night fell, new lights appeared; some in the street, some illuminating the buildings. They were as soothing as sunlight, just in a different way.
What attracted Katie was a building bathed in blue light, which several humans were lining up to go into. We perched on the shoulder of one human going in, and entered a world of dreams. Beams of heavenly light of all colours, the chequered floor flashing, the room surrounded in mist. All the humans here danced, so we danced along with them, nodding our heads along to the music. No-one noticed us; it was like we blended in with the lights.
After a while of that, we fluttered outside to sit on the roof of the place, to get a good view of the town. ‘Well, aren’t you glad you came out with me?’ Katie asked.
‘Sure am,’ I replied.
‘So shall we go back to the garden?’
‘Oh, can’t we stay here? The tea at the garden was nice but nothing compared to the orange foamy liquid they have at this place.’