Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Venus and Iris: A Children's Story (but not really)

UPDATE: The book is now available on Amazon. Click HERE.

Here it is both in text and video. Even as an adult, I like being read to, so I thought perhaps you might too.


Venus and Iris
 (illustrated by Calista Ward

Deep in the bog, with the cicadas singing, Mama Venus Flytrap no longer looked so scary. Her leaves were yellow and limp.

Even her traps' jaws were limp. And even though a tasty beetle sat in one of them, the trap would not close.

Mama's son, whose name is Venus, looked up at her, worried.

"It's all right, Venus. It's my time to return to the earth. It's your time to grow up from the earth."

"Mama, please don't die," the boy whispered.

But Mama's leaves got so limp, they started to shrivel. "And remember son, I know you love to eat but eat only one insect each day. More and you'll melt into the earth."

And with that, mama melted into the earth.

And the boy was sad. Very sad.

And he was scared. It was his first time alone and he worried he'd always be alone. Sure, there were other flytraps there but they didn't seem to count.

The boy was just old enough to start noticing things. He noticed that he had eight red traps. He thought they were kind of ugly and wished they were green like the rest of him.

He also noticed things outside himself:

He looked to the left. Just some flytraps and some brush.

He looked to the right. Just some flytraps and some peat.

He looked ahead. Just some flytraps and lots of bog.

But then he looked behind. And there was an iris.

And it was beautiful.

It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

It's hard for flytraps to talk, especially young ones, but he summoned all his energy and croaked "Hi."

Iris stared at his traps and even though they were small, those teeth! She got scared and so she looked away.

Embarrassed and sad, he turned away too.

Days passed and every so often, an insect would fall into his trap and as soon as it touched two of the trap's trigger hairs, the trap slammed shut. Well, a growing boy has to eat. 

And the boy grew bigger.

And every so often, he would look at Iris. But the bigger he got, the scarier he looked and the faster she turned away. So he did too.

Now months passed and now he was big, and one day, there was loud buzzing: Beetles!

He looked at Iris. She was covered with beetles! They were eating her!!

The boy widened his traps and squeezed really hard so lots of the glistening, attractive dew sat on his traps.

And it worked! A beetle jumped off Iris and right onto his trap. Snap! Dinner is served.

But there still were beetles, lots of beetles, all over Iris. He didn't care that she had been scared of him. He loved her. He had to try to save her.

But what could he do? The beetles had chewed big holes in Iris's leaves and were making more holes, faster and faster. She was starting to wilt.

He had to think of something, and fast!

He thought and he thought. And then he noticed the other flytraps. Yes!

Even though flytraps do find it very hard to speak, love makes almost anything possible. So he tried to speak but, alas, all that came out was digested beetle!

He tried again. More digested beetle!

He tried yet again and, finally, words came out: "Please help me save my Iris!"

But the flytraps didn't move.

"Please!," he cried.

Still the flytraps remained still.

He screamed, "I love her more than life itself."

And that moved the flytraps. Suddenly, most of them squeezed as hard as they could. And their traps opened as wide as they could and their traps were covered with that glistening, attractive dew.

And like a magnet,  the beetles jumped into the traps. Well, most of them.

Exhausted, all the other flytraps fell asleep.

But two beetles were still left on Iris. Now what?!

The boy couldn't eat them himself. He had just eaten one and remembered what his mama had warned him: "Eat more than one in a day and you'll die."

But the boy looked at Iris and he knew what he had to do.

He squeezed harder than he ever had in his entire life.

And then he squeezed some more.

And all his traps opened the widest they'd ever been, even wider than you do when the doctor tells you to say "ah!"

And all his traps were completely covered with that glistening, attractive dew.

And just like that, the two beetles jumped from Iris and into his traps. Snap. Snap.

The boy looked at Iris. And he was happy.

And this time, she did not look away. She leaned toward him.

And the boy was very happy.

But then the boy felt sick.

And he wondered, "Should I have eaten those beetles?"

And the boy's red traps turned green, a sickly green.

Would you have eaten the beetles?

(I plan to include three endings so the reader or parent can choose:)

And he melted into the earth and joined his mama.

Iris leaned over the boy, putting her head onto one of his traps so her pollen--some would call it fairy dust, others plant medicine--could drop onto the now not-glistening dew.

Suddenly, the boy started to shake and shake.

And he coughed up the beetles.

Iris continued to lean over the boy. She gently shut his trap and then held it, the way friends hold hands.

And the boy started to look healthier and healthier.

And Iris and Venus looked at each other, knowing they'll be best friends forever.

Iris knew that if she used her body to shield the boy from the sun for two days, he would live, but she--who can live only in shade--would likely die.

If you were Iris, what would you do?

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