Beatrice the bumblebee was too plump to fly. But she flew anyway.
Sometimes she wobbled, and sometimes she bumped her head, but Beatrice didn’t care. She was too busy being proud of herself.
Beatrice decided to help the other flying creatures pollinate flowers. She found a lovely bluebell garden to work at, where she met all sorts of butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds. They were so fast, so graceful, and so very good at flying. They were better than Beatrice. Orville, a particularly stout hummingbird, laughed at her.
“Is that the best you can do? You might be the worst flier in this garden,” he remarked.
“No, I’m not! I’ll show you that I’m a real pollinator, too,” Beatrice cried.
She launched herself into the nearest bluebell, burrowing into its soft petals. Turning and wiggling around, she coated her entire body in its sweet pollen dust. In fact, there was so much pollen on her that Beatrice had become a bit heavier. She was now too heavy for her little wings to keep her afloat.
And so Beatrice helplessly sank to the ground. She sat upon the grass, which was dimmed by the plants above, and felt rather beside herself. A great teardrop dribbled down from her eye. Beatrice rolled herself into a pile of leaves, rubbing away the pollen. She curled up on top of one and proceeded to weep.
“Hey, you’re getting me wet!” exclaimed a voice.
To her astonishment, the leaf she was lying on began to move on its own. Beatrice stopped weeping and began shrieking.
“Calm down, I’m just a leaf insect. My name is Phyllis,” said the voice.
Beatrice collected herself and hopped off. “I’m sorry, I must have been terribly heavy. My name is Beatrice.”
Phyllis looked at Beatrice. “You are indeed quite rotund. I don’t know how you get around on those pitiful legs.”
“Actually, I fly…or used to, at least,” Beatrice mumbled.
“What?! You FLY?! That’s amazing!” Phyllis squealed, “I’ve never met anyone who could fly before!”
“But I’m not very good. In fact, I might be the worst flier in the garden.”
Phyllis thought for a second. “Who cares about the garden, then? Come live down here with us non-fliers. I’m sure you could walk if you worked out those quadriceps more.”
“But I…I don’t want to! I love helping the garden, smelling the flowers, and feeling the sunshine. Most of all, though, I love flying. I was so proud when I took flight for the first time
, and so proud when I pollinated my first flower. Except I’m not proud of myself anymore. Which is silly because I’ve only improved since before.”
Beatrice took a breath. She looked around at the branches, the burrowing worms, the beetles crawling on the ground. Perhaps Phyllis was right. Beatrice may have been the worst flier in the flower garden, but she was easily the best flier in the grasses below. It was all relative.
And so, after lowering her standards, Beatrice settled down to enjoy a blissful life in the shade.
Her new life lasted approximately ten minutes. It came to an end when a chirping ball of feathers came crashing through the bushes, zipping around until he found his bee.
“Beatrice! There you are,” Orville panted.
“Orville! What are you doing here?”
Orville shuffled his wings and glanced at the dirt. “I…err…came to say sorry. I shouldn’t have been snide. The truth is, I had to practice day and night to be able to fly; I was jealous when I saw you learn how to so easily.”
“R-Really?” Beatrice gasped. A warm, glowing feeling began to spread inside her chest. She had been mistaken in the best way possible.
With a shimmy and a leap, Beatrice fluttered back into the air. She knew that after having spent many eons in darkness, it was finally time to return to where she belonged.
“HA! So this whole time, you were no better than me? I should’ve realized your struggles and my virtues. I declare that I’m a natural talent! I’m a genius! I’m the best flier in the whole world, and no one can tell me otherwise!” Beatrice shouted, soaring towards the bluebells and smacking into nearly everything in her path.
After recovering from his shock, Orville turned to the leaf insect. “She’s definitely not…what blind and obstinate self-confidence. What a birdbrain.”
“Well, whatever keeps the ecosystem going,” Phyllis replied. “You go, Beatrice. Go pollinate the earth, you delightfully shameless bee.”