An Experiment with Little

I am going to do an experiment.

I have a partially-finished manuscript and I’m kind of stuck around the mid-way mark. (I heard about “the sagging middle” in writing and I totally get it now.) To motivate myself a bit more to finish the story, I’m going to post chapters on this blog two to three times a week.

I originally intended this story as a middle-grade (9-12 years old) novel, but I’m not sure what age group it fits into now. It’s sort of a Still Alice meets colony collapse disorder: a small bumblebee must cope with the neurological damage of her sisters as a result of pesticides, disease, and other factors that are thought to contribute to colony collapse. For now the title is Little.

Feel free to comment or send me a message with feedback! Questions, suggestions, etc.

This is a bit scary for me, to lay my rough writing out like this…but I read somewhere that every day you should try to do one thing that scares you. So here I go! Deep breath…

Little: Chapter One

Little’s cocoon was snug and warm but she had to get out. Out to whatever outside was. She chewed and chewed, and then air flowed in. Air that was delicious and awakened her and smelled like…sisters. The signature scent of her colony: rose-rain-spice-upon-spice. Sisters and nectar and pollen and wax and she knew immediately what these were. Crawling out, it was too dark for Little to see with her eyes, but the scents and the thrum and the buzzing and skittering let her see perfectly.

Rose-rain-rimmed-with-flame.

Her antennae perked up. The scent-beacon of Mother. Her space-scent calculations told her Mother was ten sister-bodies up the hill of cocoons and nectar pots, five sister-bodies over.

Little stretched her legs and smoothed down her grey, damp fur. Her sisters’ scent-songs bathed her antennae: A new one…Welcome…So small…Small but beautiful…Welcome…Lovely…You are loved…Now help, help Mother…help, help all…

Little began to slowly climb, gently stepping on rounded cocoons, careful not to step into nectar pots. She squeezed her way between furry sister bodies, each curled over a cocoon, keeping the growing life warm inside. Occasionally a sister would scramble forcefully past to stop at a nectar pot and unload her stomach. These sisters smelled of…Sky-World. She knew what Sky-World was but didn’t at the same time. She just knew that soon, once her legs were no longer stiff, once she was stronger, she would be Called and smell like Sky-World too.

Little also knew it was a Rule not to disturb Mother, and not to disturb her Sisters. They all had work to do.

I am helping, helping Mother and my sisters, she scent-sang as she sat on the cocoon and fanned her wings. Then her scent-cloud was interrupted by a sister three bodies over, ten bodies down: Get-out-get-out-ggg###—ettt###outtt>>>!!! It smelled of terror-confusion-fear-distress and as quickly as it started, it stopped. Little scanned the air but there was no reply. Only the busy, collective rose-rain-spice-upon-spice (Help, help Mother…help all…love, you are loved…together help Mother…). She climbed down to find the distressed sister but the scent-song cloud had disappeared, and so had the bee. Little released a cloud of worried…I am worried…, but only received a You are new, you are young, why fear? You are loved, you are us, help, help Mother…

Amongst all the warm sister bodies and the scent-beacon of Mother, Little suddenly felt alone.

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