Small Wonders

I saw a centipede cross the street and asked it where it was going.

“On an adventure,” it replied.

Puzzled, I asked it what sort of adventure it was going on? Surely a centipede has quite a boring life? Where could it go? It could not go to the beach, it would drown. It could not climb a mountain in one lifetime. I desperately wanted to know the nature of this adventure.

“Well, my first adventure is to cross this street,” it said.

“The uneven tar road is like a rugged terrain for my hundreds of feet, but I have to be quick or a dog might get hit by a car and crush me as it hits the ground. It is a race against the forces around me.”

“When this adventure ends another will begin when I reach the curb. As the pavement and its zigzagging cracks give way to a more earthy path, I’ll usually find strange things in the grass. Once I saw a lazy caterpillar trying to build its cocoon from a tall blade of grass. I told him that this was a silly idea because people are clumsy with their giant feet. I had seen it happen before on my travels to the garden next door. He’d easily get trampled before he could see life from the sky, but he didn’t listen to me. He really was very lazy. I saw him again briefly only once after that. He was miles away – stuck to the underside of a black Adidas shoe. I said a simple eulogy as i passed: There sticks a bug that could have seen it all.”

“Once I climbed a tree and looked down at the field where I live. It looked small and strange from up there. I saw that beside my home was a new puddle I hadn’t seen before so I made a mental note of the path and made my way there the best I could. Along the way I passed a party of ants having the time of their lives over some giant chocolate M&M’s. They danced around the UFO-like discs in a tribal frenzy. They were crazy. Everyone knows the ones with nuts taste better. Anyway, it took me awhile to get to the puddle; even with my many legs I’m slow, but i don’t mind, i like the walk. When I got there I sailed a leaf across the pond. It dipped and tipped but i clung on and peered over the edge. For the first time I saw my own reflection in the murky water. Who knew I was so handsome? Its no wonder that the lady bugs flex their colourful wings when I walk by.”

“Another time I sat on a flower and waited to say hello to a honey bee. Their fearsome reputations aside, I heard they were quite interesting to talk to. After a long time, a senior bee droned by the flower beside me. Hello, I said. How are you? Any news from where you come from? He blinked at me first. Bee’s aren’t accustomed to seeing centipedes in flowers let alone centipedes who wanted to stop for a chat. He sat at the edge of a petal and let his wings settle before he spoke. He told me of strange stories from beyond the fence. I laughed at the tales of his silly queen and her big behind that got in the way of everything, but whom he was very loyal to nonetheless. I cried when he told me he passed a glowing wired plant that seemed to kill every creature that dared to stop for a rest, leaving their singed carcasses as a terrible warning to others. And when I had heard enough, I bid him goodbye and walked to the next flower to hear more stories from other bees.”

I listened to the centipede’s story in amazement. I told him he led quite an intriguing life.

“Thanks,” he said, “I try.”

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