Fluttering | Teen Ink


February 15, 2009
By Ariel Dempsey BRONZE, Jenison, Michigan
Ariel Dempsey BRONZE, Jenison, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

My heart pounded as I slowly drifted through darkness. My tiny moth wings fluttered unconsciously, as if in a trance. "Almost there,
almost there," I whispered to myself, shaking with an uncontainable excitement.
The light. It was dazzling. Its brightness filled every inch of my vision. It cloaked the black world around me, leaving no other direction but forward. Leading me toward the heart of the brilliant white light. I found myself enthralled with my heart racing faster and my wings
beating harder. A feeling of awe, majesty and power wrapped itself around me. I felt stronger. It was as though the light's energy was
seeping through me. "I can fly above the clouds, beyond the sky, past the edge of the Earth," I thought as pride consumed me. I drew
closer to the light and its brilliance engulfed me. Shouting at the top of my voice, I soared the last few inches. "Nothing can stop me
now!" THUMP. Ouch. The glass wall of the streetlight yanked me back down to brutal reality. I was just a moth and not some super powered beast. The tip of my lefty wing ached as evidence. Hastily I recoiled in confusion. "What is that?" I exclaimed in panic. Encasing the glorious light was a thick glass wall impossible to penetrate with this frail body of a moth. I circled the lamp in a futile search for an entrance.
This time I approached the wall on diplomatic terms. As I drew closer, it seemed to pulse with the light. "Excuse me," I squeaked as
I delicately landed on the wall. My face hovered just above its smooth, clear surface. "I would very much like to get closer to the
light." My request sounded reasonable but the wall did not even answer; instead it attacked, burning my feet before I could begin the
next sentence. With the speed of a jet, I exploded off the wall, this time my face hovered a few inches away. I began to talk and it still
ignored me. I could feel its seething heat singing the tips of my antennae so I looked away and retreated farther from the light and
into the darkness. What was I doing wrong?
Then I heard a noise. It was not the annoying clamor of the crickets trying to out-do each other in a midnight battle of the bands, and it
was quite different from the snoring dog that lives at the house on the corner. I heard a brisk, thump, thump, thump coming from the
other side of the lamp. Curious, I glided over toward the clatter and recognized a silhouette of a moth with one crooked antenna.
"H-h-hello?" I called uncertainly.
"Yeah," the silhouette responded in a deep voice, followed by another thump.
"Who are you…?" I paused, "and what are you doing?" I timidly approached the stranger with my antennae crossed (as I do when deep in
thought). I winced as I saw him smash into the imposing glass three harsh times. Thump…thump… thump!
The silhouette moth stopped, briefly resting. "I'm Ash" he straightened his crooked antennae in a noble way. "Ash the Mash the
Moth." I'm sure you've heard of me."
I hesitantly shook my head.
"Oh, well, then you will hear about me. Once I break down this wall, I'll become the most famous moth alive. People are going to write
books about me titled, The Little Moth that Could, and Breaking the Barrier. Everyone will know my name!" A dreamy look entered his eye
but it dissolved almost instantly. He glared at the wall and undaunted, charged full speed. Once again I grimaced as he pounded
into the glass with a loud thump. His wings splattered against the glass.
"I'm making progress, see." He proudly declared; pointing to a dent that would require a microscope to see. I forced a smile and politely
nodded as I tried not to stare at Ash's crippled figure covered with bruises and gashes. Compared to him, the glass looked in pretty good
shape, rather, extremely good shape. I looked away and gazed at the light. There was something charming about it, something that beckoned, mesmerized, held me captive. I couldn't understand why but… My train of thought derailed as Ash collided into the wall. I gritted my teeth and gently stroked the tip of my left wing with my antennae. It still hurt. I wondered how much pain Ash was feeling.
"So how many moths have tried to break down the wall?" I asked trying to divert the thumping. It made me feel uncomfortable.
Ash answered. "There's been thousands before me. They've just been doing it the wrong way with all these fancy calculations and junk like that. Me, I know what works." Again, a loud thump echoed through the night sky. "One moth" Ash continued, "was convinced that a mini-sun was locked up beyond the glass so he arranged a ride on the next space probe and shot off into space. My best friend's cousin saw him wearing a space suit and waved to him as he was blasted out of the atmosphere. This other guy…" Ash's story was interrupted by a medium sized moth with a fat fuzzy body and a British accent. "Excuse me fine chaps but I'm dreadfully lost. This bloody Fodor's Travel Guide specifically says to keep the light of the moon on my left side. It only leads me to circles around this blasted pole!" He glared at the travel guide skeptically.
"Might you give me directions to the Bahamas?" I crossed my antennae, deep in thought. "Try South." I finally said,
feeling unconfident in my hesitant answer.
"Brilliant!" The British moth exclaimed excitedly. He flew off in a random direction I thought was northwest. I was about to resume the discussion with Ash when I glanced at the puddle collected under the street light. I studied the reflection of the light warped by ripples. It still had that transfixing mystery buried within its core. "We had quite a storm yesterday," I commented mindlessly while I investigated the puddle out of the corner of my eye.
"No kidding," Ash laughed, "Once my Aunt was at a bread eating festival and it started raining so hard that it flooded and the only way she saved herself was by gorging her stomach with bread until she became so bloated she floated. And another time…" My eyes diverted back to the puddle. There. There it was. A small moth was drowning. To Ash's surprise, I ducked into a nose dive and bee-lined to the water.
"Fine," I heard Ash shout offended. "Don't listen to my story." I ignored him; swooping down to the surface of the puddle and snatching
the drowning moth from the dark liquid's wrath. The rescued moth coughed loudly as I brought him toward the heat of the light to dry his saturated wings. My feet felt heavy from the weight of his water logged body and the tip of my left wing now not only ached, but felt wet and weak.
Ash smiled. "Oh, so you've found Finn drowning again. "You're the tenth moth to save him tonight. Isn't that right Finn?" He said it
so casually, I was taken aback. Finn nodded slowly.
"What were you doing down there?" I questioned.
Finn's antennae curled and twisted; flashing a complicated message in moth sign-language. I'd never seen it before but I heard about a moth who tied his antennae in knot trying to explain to a chef that he was allergic to bread mold. Finn on the other hand looked like a master. He looked like a ninja that was skilled beyond measure. I doubt he ever tied his antennae in a knot. Ash spoke up, "Finn's mute. But I'll translate for you. Let's see."
Ash squinted at Finn. "He either says Thanks for rescuing me or, the cow has successfully jumped over the moon." Finn rolled his eyes while again Ash attempted translation. "Okay, he said that he was in the puddle because he's trying to enter the reflection of the light."
Finn nodded with both antennae bouncing. "And I think," a perplexed look appeared on Ash's face. "He just called you a three-toed purple
mongoose." Finn shook his head, looking annoyed. "Oh wait, never mind, he said that the reflection is just as good as the real
thing…and he asks if you agree." Ash relaxed feeling very proud of his translation.
I didn't know how to answer so I didn't answer at all. A feminine voice from behind me did instead. She talked with a squeaky voice that
sounded quite overused. "The real one is better because there are more moths here to talk to and I just love talking because it's so much fun being social and there's so many things to talk about, so many stories to tell, oh, have you heard that one joke about the moth, oh wait don't answer, I'll tell it to you again, here it goes. What insect lives on nothing?" Ash looked as though he was about to answer but once again the social moth started a talking marathon. "Moths do, because moths eat holes! Isn't that a nifty joke although it is a bit off and it
seems the people hired to invent jokes should do more research because moths don't actually eat holes, they make holes but so do a lot of
animals like mice and… Hmm, now that I think of it, it's a terribly written joke that degrades the moth species so don't tell that joke to
anyone because we need to stop its spread. Anyway on a lighter note, have you met my son, he has four middle names. He's Arthropoda
Insecta Lepidoptera Noctuidae Agrotis Infusa and don't you think that is a wonderful name for a little boy because it took my husband and I months to pick out a winning name like this for our little angel.
About 3 months later my husband blasted off to space in a mad quest for the sun, no matter though." She dragged her son out from behind her. "Arthropoda say hi." She commanded.
A very small, moth with a three-centimeter wingspan appeared and whispered three quiet sentences. "Salutations associate creatures.
Felicitous night presently. Please savor matriarch's diction considering the irritatingly toilsome listening won't terminate
expeditiously." The social moth once again regained the reigns of the conversation.
"Arthropoda doesn't like talking much but that's okay because as long as I'm talking everybody's happy…" I watched Arthropoda. He studied the light like a scientist. I imagined he was very similar to his father and one day he'd probably make some great discovery to benefit moth-kind. It seemed like that would be more helpful than breaking down the glass wall. As Ash described it though, it seemed like breaking the wall would be the greatest accomplishment to happen for the last 1000 years.
"And oh my goodness," I heard the social moth laugh, "One moth when I told her the joke about what moths eat, well he…" She rambled on for three unrelenting hours; pausing only to take breaths between long run-on sentences. Her sentences probably ran over twenty miles. Meanwhile, I stared at the light and watched Finn's wings dry from dark brown to beige. Every once in awhile, he'd flutter his wings and drops of water would spray to the ground. I listened to the crickets chirping annoyingly high pitched and the dog snoring loudly at the house on the corner. Unfortunately for me, it was not loud enough to cover up the social moth's one person conversation. I turned back to her rambling.
"And so I flew around the corner and bumped into you guys and isn't that a weird coincidence because I really thought it was and just
about then…" Finn launched himself into the night sky, "My wings are dry!" He joyously signed.
Ash translated as, "My feet smell like glue." But Finn didn't notice while doing back flips and front flips and twists through the air.
The wavy black line across his hind wings twisted smoothly as he danced vigorously. I marveled at him. "Oh, Finn tells you again that the cow jumps over the moon." Ash helpfully added. Satisfied with his translation he did a victory crash into the wall. Finn rolled his eyes and fluttered back to the puddle doing a few acrobatics
"Why are you going back?" my mind shouted but I calmly asked "You nearly drowned out there!" He cheerfully continued gliding toward the puddle smiling at me and shrugging his shoulders. He disappeared into the reflection. I hovered there, stunned. The social moth resumed talking. I wondered if her mouth was tired yet.
"And so anyway, I'd better get going too but you know what I mean because there are a lot of moths to talk on the other side of the
light, you know newcomers and all and there is so little time, besides Arthropoda is probably getting tired and…" Arthropoda interrupted. "I'm not weary. Merely exasperated of my auditory senses perceiving you converse but yes I am prepared to depart."
"Right, Honey." Said the social moth completely oblivious to what he said. Let's go visit more moths. With that, she flew away, just
talking to herself while I thought I heard Arthropoda groan. I turned to look at Ash and found him admiring his microscopic dent in
the wall. He looked at it fondly; the way a grandfather looks at a small child or the way an Olympian looks at his medals with glassy
"Well," he sighed "I'd better get back to work." Thump. Thump, thump.
"Why?" I shouted unable to control my confusion. I regretted asking it the moment it left my lips.
Thump, thump. He crashed against the wall and paused. "I don't know." An awkward silence followed that was finally broken by a
large THUMP.
I looked away. The light looked almost sinister now, glowing more orange than white. I started to leave but circled back, hypnotized in
a trance. I heard Ash's thump and snapped back into reality. I was still a prisoner. I struggled with breaking its captivating spell.
The light pulled at me and pleaded with me to stay. I felt trapped, writhing in its grasp. Before I could change my mind I held my breath
and flew.
The darkness of night had dissolved and peeking around the corner was a new light that did not engulf me but instead filled me with hope.
It was not small or unattainable; it was massive and uncontainable; filling the dawn sky with vivid colors of red and orange. With the
crickets chirping and the dog at the corner snoring, I fluttered east toward the light of a new day.

The author's comments:
This is a metaphor about seeking truth.

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