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Spring Waves Writing Contest 2021: msjanny's entry

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Years ago, Chicken had tried to propagate a few cuttings from her tree. She was a young pear leaving her childhood home, and she’d wanted to bring, literally, a piece of it with her. Unfortunately, it seemed that out of all of Furvilla’s horticulture experts, even the most experienced herbalists had only ever tried container gardening in small herbalist pots. Chicken wasn’t sure where pears (the food) came from, when it seemed that nobody knew how to cultivate them.

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She’d ended up going through quite a few cuttings before she managed to find a technique that actually worked. The original tree looked quite a bit more naked now, but no matter—she had a pear tree and was considered the inventor of “planting large things in the ground instead of in pots.” Her new trees were two tiny little things that grew steadily over the seasons. Once they’d matured, they’d begun flowering in early spring.

Chickens, as a species, were not very good pollinators: beaks too short, flight too unwieldy, bodies too large. Chicken usually posted an ad in the forums looking for pollinators more suited to the task in exchange for free nectar and a tidy sum of FurCash. This year, a swarm of bees had answered her call for help, and Chicken was determined to be the best hostess she could be.

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“Hello,” she greeted each and every worker bee. Mostly, they ignored her and made a beeline for the two pear trees. Maybe she’d misstepped somewhere and breached some unspoken etiquette rule? The gig economy was full of those. Chicken hoped whatever she’d done wasn’t as bad as calling a rideshare and sitting on your Carousel Horse driver’s saddle instead of in the rickshaw. Thankfully, she hadn’t done that before, but she’d heard a story and the secondhand embarrassment of it all had lingered for hours.

Chicken’s throat began to feel parched after a few thousand hellos. This sure was quite a lot of bees! One of the other villagers in the commune had come by to watch and only after Chicken was certain her voice had gone out did her friend mention that bees tended to communicate mostly in a wiggly sign language that looked a little like dancing. Chicken could feel her pear body ripen in a mortified blush until she looked like one of those Red Bartlett pears.

What good were friends if they enjoyed seeing you make a fool of yourself?

“Well, uhm, if you guys need anything, just post a message to the forum thread!” Chicken shouted in the bees’ general direction and made a hasty retreat back into the coop.

Later that day, when the embarrassment had worn off a bit, Chicken thought maybe she could face the world again. The bees were supposed to leave before sundown to return to their hives, so she sent them off this time with an awkward shimmy that apparently communicated gratitude and goodbye (she’d done some research while she was hiding).

Chicken went to bed that night dreaming of the fall’s harvest and wondering if she was supposed to have tipped.