Once upon a time there was a very small ladybug. It wasn’t an ordinary ladybug. Not like the others who flew through the fields, munching on leaves and grass, singing happy ladybug songs and finding twigs to rest on. This ladybug liked to sit in the shade of the willow tree and watch the sun come up. He did not like to fly, or play, or do any of the ladybug things that ladybugs do.
When he was very small, hardly the size of a speck, his father told him, “Son, if you want to make it in this world, you will have to get tough. You will need to learn to fly very high into the sky, and land swiftly, and hide carefully.”
The little bug would watch his father’s mouth move, his hands flailing in the air, and antennae twitching as he pontificated about life and the world and he would hear music begin to rise from within his heart. He knew, even as a tiny little ladybug, that he was not like the others. He knew that the song rising in his heart was the music of his destiny. Though he had no words to describe this feeling, he would wait until his father was done talking and smile, looking down and softly say “Yes sir.” Or something like that. But he knew that the beautiful music was calling him.
His mother would cuddle with him, and often coddle him, for she loved him best of all. Occasionally she would advise him in secret, saying things like “Ladybug, find yourself a human to land on.” Her eye wide with hope, and her mandibles glistening with dew. “Humans can carry you much further than your little wings, and they have delicious food, and will often care for you. Because you are a ladybug, a human will feel a blessing when you land upon them.”
The little bug would watch his mother’s eyes fill up with dreams and shimmer with hope. Her words blurring into the sound of waves, and distant flutes in his head. Though he could not follow the words she offered, and had no language of his own to describe the haunting song in his heart. He would smile and hug his mother, and say “Yes mother.”
Growing up, the other ladybugs would have contests. His sister won the cute competition without even trying, and his brothers struggled furiously for the fast, the dive bomb and the hungry contests and won them all, but the little ladybug never cared to compete. He would while away the afternoon from his twig, or tree branch listening to the music in his head, and dreaming of the next day’s sunrise.
In time, his parents grew slow, and quiet. His brothers and sister moved away with the excitement of spring, and the cool breezes of autumn. He found himself alone in the field where he was born. Though he had always been a little sad, he was not lonesome. The aphids and grasshoppers were good company, and of course, the sun would rise each morning… filling his heart with the long, thick sound of rosin spread onto strings, being pulled across the bridge of a hundred violins. He would listen to the music, his eyes often filling with tears.
The aphids and his other companions would watch him in the morning, they sometimes gathered around him and sat silently listening to him. It seemed as if aphids and spit bugs could actually hear the music. No one knows for sure. But gather they would, regardless, and silently they sat watching.
The aphids believed that the tears in the ladybugs eyes were because he had been left behind, and it broke their hearts. The loved the ladybug, and his devotion to the sunrise, and all his gentle ways. The ladybug loved them too, but had no aphid words to offer them. He merely sat, calmly, and smiled at them when the music subsided.
One morning, before the sun began to rise, the ladybug was dozing on his twig in the field when he heard a little laughter. He opened his eyes and looked around. There was nothing. At least he couldn’t see anything. Just as he was closing his eyes, he heard the laughter again.
“Hello?” he called softly. Though he rarely spoke, it had been a very long time since he’d heard his ladybug language, and was excited to discover the sounds of laughter in his native tongue.
“Hello…” said the softest voice he had ever heard.
“Are you a ladybug?” asked the ladybug.
The voice giggled sweetly and said “Of course I am, what else would I be?”
“Well, I’m sure I don’t know, but it has been a long time since I saw another ladybug, and I wanted to be sure.”
“Rest assured” said the voice.
“May I ask a question?” said the ladybug.
After another peel of delicate laughter, the voice said “You seem to be nothing but questions.”
“I’m sorry.” Said the ladybug.
“Oh, darling, don’t be sorry.” Said the voice. “Please, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. What is your question?”
After a moment of reflection the ladybug asked softly “Where are you?”
The voice let out a sigh, and said “Ah, my beloved little friend. Always lost in your head. I am here.”
The ladybug looked around carefully. He saw no one.
The ladybug’s eyes filled with tears, he felt that this was another one of his mind’s tricks. There was no sweet other ladybug, and he was now, finally, losing his mind.
“Oh, go away…” said the ladybug with some degree of scorn. “You are not real, and I do not wish to spoil my morning with madness.”
“Ladybug…” said the voice tenderly.
After some time the little bug said “What?”
The ladybug opened his eyes and peeked upwards.
There on a branch, just above his head, and slightly behind, was another ladybug. Not just any ladybug, but a beautiful, female ladybug. She was gently perched on a twig in very much the same position that he was. Her eyes brightened and she smiled sweetly.
The ladybug blushed a little, and said “Oh, there you are.” The girl brightened and said “And here I have always been.”
“Always?” said the ladybug.
“Well… for as long as I can remember.”
The ladybug was set back a bit by this information. ‘How could it be that for all this time I have never considered to look up and back over my shoulder? Surely I must have looked backward once?’ The ladybug thought long and hard. No, there was never an occasion which he could remember where he had chosen to look over his shoulder, nor to even consider undertaking a higher vantage point, or changing his position.
“Have you really been here the whole time?” He asked her finally.
The girl smiled sweetly, and nodded that yes, she had indeed.
“What have you been doing there?”
“Listening to your music.”
“You can hear my music?” He asked, completely amazed.
“Of course.” She laughed. “Everyone can.”
Well this changed things substantially. Did this mean that when the little bug was busy acting as if he was listening to his father that he could hear the music, and knew full well that he was not listening at all, even though he would have liked to be?
“Oh dear…” said the ladybug
“What?” asked the girl.
The girl laughed and laughed and smiled the brightest smile.
The ladybug felt waves of warmth and affection flow over his heart. Music, though the sun was only just beginning to peek out over the edge of the field swelled up into an amazing orchestral crash. Violas and cellos began to sway in harmony with the cool morning breeze. Fugalhorns announced the day’s dawn, and distant drums boomed their booming rhythms.
The ladybugs flew together in a figure eight around the field. Together, smiling, and happy, they listened to the intricate sound of the morning’s rise.
In the afternoon she kissed him on the cheek.
The aphids and the spit bugs cheered. They were happy because the music seemed to play now always. Not just in the morning.
And so, the ladybugs made their home, low and wide among the twigs and branched of the trees. In time there was an explosion of little ladybugs learning to fly, and frolicking in the grass of the field. With each little one came a new tone, a new, and completely different song.
The field burst to life with so much music it made everyone’s heart fill up with happiness. The aphids, mute under most circumstances, unless they were clapping, croaked out a dry and gritty melody of their own.
At dawn the field would shine with music from a hundred creatures, and all day long the song of play, laughter, drama, and friendship would play throughout the field and all about the trees. In the evening, the bugs who felt inspired to sing would perform their songs for the others. They never criticized, they only admired, and cheered for each other’s beautiful music. And at night, the little ladybug who had lost his family, and found his love, and built a family all his own would crawl out onto his twig, and softly send the entire field to sleep with his haunting, and wonderfully happy songs of love, peace, and reunion.