The small tottler in a yellow circle dress, yellow ribbons at the end of her three long ponytails, let’s go of Marie’s free hand to wobble down the path that leads into the local park.
It is early spring; the sun is bright, the sky has refrained from clouding, and Marie thought it is another perfect morning to walk to the local Mom and Pop’s convenient store to pick up a few necessities. If her child tags along, the park is always a regular stop.
The heads of the golden flowers rise above the iron park fence. That’s where the toddler heads as soon as she crosses the threshold of the tall gate.
Marie once explained that the flowers are called snapdragons, and the tottler knows why. Their heads raise high, and their jaws drop low, showing sharp colorful teeth.
She is the only one who sees the dragon’s thin slanted eyes carefully watching the bees as they skirt in and out of the dragon’s mouth before that unthinkable “snap!” came to lock them inside forever.
Her favorite of everything else in this routine is to squat and watch the busy activity of the bees. The undulating buzzing fills her head with pictures of car motors. It reminds her of the “vroom” that the old car in the garage makes when her father revs the motor.
The teeny yellow-orange and black “people” must have motors at the end of their bodies, the tottler figures, to make their wings move so fast.
Zip, zip, zip!
She watches in awe as the little dragons happily welcome the visitors. They wait quietly to snatch them up for their next meal. After all, they were not afraid of the bees, and neither is the child. She opens her mouth and makes a low “growl”, showing her own teeth as she waits for the bees to easily find their way inside.
Would they also want to collect a sample of her nectar before scooting out to try another dragon mouth?
Marie sits on the nearby wooden bench holding the plastic bag of mixed groceries on her lap.
“Honey, don’t get too close, please,” she reminds her.
The child giggles as she turns her head towards her mother and points at the flowers. “Mota peeple, mota peeple! Gonna get eaten by da dra’ons!” She returns to the busy activity of the bees and continues to point and giggle.
Marie isn’t sure, but it appears that the tottler in yellow is happily speaking to something on her arms. Startled, a dread thought crosses the protector’s mind.
“Honey? Baby? Did a bee sting you?” She calls. Without waiting for an answer, the panic mother jumps up. The bag falls from her lap and small items roll onto the granite cement. Marie doesn’t notice as she scampers to her daughter’s side.
Several bees are flying around the small tottler in yellow. A few are on her arms and hands, moving around in their special dance.
“Lookie, Mommy!” She shouts in a high squeal. “Mota peeple, mota peeple! D’ey love me!” She giggles while moving around in a small circle. “Mota peeple, mota peeple!”
The bees continue circling and the ones on her arms are now fixed in place.
“No!” Marie stops, her eyes wide, her hands on her pale cheeks. Suddenly, she quickly grabs one of the child’s arms and swats madly at the flying buzzing insects with her other hand. “Run, baby, run!”
She yanks the tottler towards the gate, toward the road back home, but she ends,
instead, in a tug of war of sorts. The tottler in yellow screams fill the air.
“No, no, no!”
Marie looks up, startled, when a flock of Ruddy Ducks lift from the pond, flying high into the cloudless sky. Still, she holds tight to the little wrist as her breath comes quickly, gently, in a rush.
“Sweetie, please, run home with mommy. It’s time for lunch. Yes, let’s run home and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I have a special grape juice box for you. Please hurry home with me.”
Suddenly, two bees sting the hand that is holding the “want-to-be dragon,” forcing Marie to unwillingly release her grip. She holds her own wrist with her other hand and watches helplessly as two swollen pink dots spring up from her tight skin. Her eyes move to the little person who now stands with her legs apart, her hands on her waist, glaring up at her, the voice turning harsh.
“No, mommy. Not now!”
Marie rubs the two spots on her hand that burn as they turn a bright red, not aware that the stingers stand straight up out of her skin.
“What is happening to my baby?” She whispers the fearful words that rises to the center of her brain making her headache as the stings burn on.
The tottler in yellow relaxes her face until her lips move up into a toothless smile.
Defiantly, she turns away from the one she calls, “mommy” to attend to the flowers. With bright eyes, in a sing-song voice, she coos, “Bye, bye, mota peeple. Bye, bye, dra’ons! Snap your food now.”
She giggles and waves.
Without hesitation, the bees that had flown around her and the ones that had rested on her arms, return to join the others fly without a definite pattern in and out of the snapdragon’s open mouth.
“’Kay, Mommy.” She brushes her hands together. “I ‘ungry,” she announces and wobbles her way through the open iron gate.
As tottler do, the one who loves the color yellow grows. Today she wears a yellow and black stripe dress as she plays alone beneath a hickory tree on the school grounds at the Center For Interdisciplinary Studies. Her dark hair is interlaced with yellow ribbons to keep the plates laying flat as they fall down her back.
She doesn’t have a sister or a brother, nor does she have any friends, but that is all right with her. Even though she no longer sees her mother, she has a father who loves her more than the money he puts in the bank, a nanny who would do anything to keep her safe and whole, and a house full of other hires to keep her company when she’s at home. The little girl in yellow believes that they are all she needs and will ever need.
She will run to the far end of the school yard whenever she has the opportunity, takes off her shoes, and dance around the hickory tree as she sings her favorite silly children’s songs.
“How much is that doggy in the window, the one with the waggly tail.”
Her classmates spread gossip about the little girl, pointing at her, covering their mouths with their hands as if that blocks their constant laughter. Yet, the little girl in yellow isn’t a fool. She can hear them but doesn’t discontinue her way. She knows that soon they will all get what they deserve, and she will be the one laughing the hardest.
One day, as she sits by her tree eating an apple, the little girl wearing a yellow cape, her yellow Buster Brown shoes lying beside her, swears she hears many voices speaking directly at her. There is no one around except for the bees flying in and out of a hole above her head in the hickory tree. For the first time she notices the thick golden amber liquid oozing out of the opening on its way down the trunk of the old tree.
She stops chewing to tilt her head and listen carefully.
“I hear you; I do, really.” She listens some more, then she suddenly burst into a series of giggles forcing bits of partially chewed apple to fly from her mouth.
“No, I’m a girl! You’re funny!”
She speaks, then listens, happily taking a bite out of her apple and chewing with glee. She swallows.
“I once had friends at the park, but we moved, and Nanny Fran can’t take me there anymore. Daddy won’t let her.”
The voices continue to oscillate as one. Questions. The little girl listens, she answers. She asks a question of her own, tilts her head, silently waiting, then nods her head in agreement.
“Me, too!” She responds.” I don’t know why some people are like that. I’m not.”
After lunch, the children hurry to return to their assign classrooms while the little girl takes her time replacing her feet into her shoes, wiping her hands with a napkin, and closing her thermos into its pale.
In her classroom, most of the boys and girls, all clean and neat, are too preoccupied with their friends before class continues to notice when the little girl in the yellow cape finally makes her way through the door. Only a small group of boys sitting in the back of the room point at her. They cover their mouths to secretly snicker.
The tall, dark teacher stands in the center of the front of the room waiting for the children to settle down. The little girl wearing the yellow cape walks directly in front of her holding her nose high in the air. She enters the second row and walks behind two desks before she stops in front of her own.
A large sheet of paper is on her desk. She looks at it without sitting down.
“Children, please take your seats.”
The little girl who loves yellow doesn’t sit down. Instead, she stares at the paper.
Her eyes grow steadily wider; her head slowly begins to shake.
The boys in the back are laughing. Immediately loud whispers are circulating throughout the room as the children in the know pass on the information to the ones who don’t. Slowly, more snickering is heard. The little girl only concentrates on the large paper on the top of her desk.
The paper is covered with a crude painting of a large bee with buck teeth, bulbous eyes, and black lines going in different directions for hair. It has wings, a long stinger, and is wearing a yellow crown. Above are the words, “I am Queen Of The Bees!”
Three loud bangs ring through the room as a wooden ruler hits the teacher’s desk. She angrily shouts her directions to the class.
“I’ve asked for everyone to take their seats! Enough, now, and give me your attention!”
More children couldn’t help themselves. They point at the little girl who is still standing as the snickers turn to laugher.
Suddenly, the little girl wearing the yellow cape with the yellow Buster Brown shoes closes her eyes, covers her ears, turns her head to the ceiling, and begins to make a long eerie sound that’s more than a simple child’s scream.
Another forty-eight hands instantly cover forty-eight ears as forty-eight knees buckle from the extreme pitch of the sound that is attacking the children’s senses. Their faces twist in a horrific grimace as their bodies squirm, attempting to comprehend what is happening.
Without thinking, the teacher repeatedly bangs her ruler on her desk, yelling over the noise as best she is able.
“Stop that! Stop and take your seat this instant!”
However, she doesn’t stop. She almost chokes as she hurriedly gulps in air, but she cannot stop. At least, not yet.
Within agonizing moments, a multitude of bees enter the room through the open door and windows to arbitrarily stick their stinger into any unprotected skin of the children.
Dead bees litter the floor as chaos ensues in the small box room.
The little girl who loves to wear yellow has no friends. That is, she has no human friends. From that day forward, her best friends are the bees.
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