“Make sure you slow down and appreciate the small things in life that give it meaning and beauty.” That was Grandpa Charlie’s favorite piece of advice for the hyperactive child he cared for. Will Allen lost his parents at a young age because of the war, they both served in combat, and Grandpa Charlie raised him like a single father. Will had been unable to sit still and because of that, his ability to concentrate on one thing at a time was non-existent, until Grandpa Charlie taught him to look at the details.
It was a father’s pride that Will saw in his grandfather’s face when he graduated high school and then joined the UEDF Army. He actually saw his grandfather, a veteran himself, cry the day Will finished basic training and was assigned to a space fleet heading to Krag. As a testament to his grandfather’s training him to focus on the small details to calm his mind, he was now excelling at all he did.
So with Grandpa Charlie’s words echoing in his head, Will looked at the single yellow flower that was standing tall in front of his face. It’s petals where of even length and spread out from the soft orange center like a crown of sun rays, each one narrow in width, with a small spine of a stem running through the middle. It never ceased to amaze Will how, even on an alien world, so many things were similar to what he had seen back on Earth.
Will was always struck by the beauty of flowers, even to the detriment of his man hood in the eyes of classmates. He spent his free time walking through any new fields he could find, looking for flowers of exceptional glamour or possessing unique characteristics to photograph. So much ugliness existed in the world that Grandpa Charlie always encouraged him to spend as much time as he could on things of peace and beauty.
Then Will noticed the small insect that was crawling out of the fluffy center of the flower. It looked a lot like a native Earth ladybug, a small round body colored blue with yellow strips. The black legs were short and stubby, it looked like ten in all, evenly distributed around the circumference of the creature’s body. Its head was nothing more than a black nub with several tiny antennae wiggling out from it.
Will was a very high energy child growing up; it was one of the reasons Grandpa Charlie always recommended military service. “The UEDF Army could use someone like you to fight off these invaders. They would be able to put all that energy to good use,” Will had heard him say on numerous occasions. Of course, when not suggesting military service, Grandpa Charlie would encourage Will to turn his excess energy toward his hobby of photography, flower cataloging and, in addition to that, bug watching. These types of slow paced hobbies helped calm his mind and allow him to focus on other things, like school.
As the little blue bug made its way across the orange center of the flower toward the yellow petals, Will moved his face closer to get a better look, and the creature took notice and started climbing toward Will’s nose. He would have liked to have his magnifying kit with him so that he could get a real good look at the face of his new friend, but using his naked eye was almost as good a way of examining new details of life.
Once the little guy made his way to the tip of one of the petals, mere millimeters from the tip of his nose, Will noticed the longer antenna that was starting to grow from the base of the insect’s skull, where it connected to the body. Will’s mind should be racing, trying to process everything around him, but his fascination with small details allowed him to focus intensely and shut everything else out. When he did this, sound would disappear and the background blurred. This skill is what allowed him to sit very still and watch as this insect did what came naturally, like whatever it was about to do with this new antenna that was closing in on Will’s nose.
It was about to make contact with his skin when a heavily armored boot stepped down and flattened both the insect and his habitat, the flower.
“Get your mind back in the game soldier, you can sniff daisies later, we have aliens to kill today.” boomed the voice of his commanding officer.
Will then jumped up off the ground, secured his helmet back on his head and reloaded his rifle, ready to get back into the fight. Sending the memory of his discovery to the back of his mind for now, to be considered later, he was able to turn all his energy toward his mission.
I hope you enjoyed this short story.