Saturday, 18 June 2022

Debut Flash: 'Winterborn' by Mark Lawson

She was Winterborn. One bee, with twenty thousand of her sisters. Living insulation wrapped in a restless low murmuring ball around their sleeping Queen and precious stores in a frost caked hive. It was dark again, but each day she had known since she was born in Autumn had been colder and shorter than the last. Chill air clawed at her unprotected back through the neatly folded wings she had never used, and she clung harder to her sisters. Knowing the tiny sip of warmth from the layered bodies underneath was all that kept her alive. Soon she would burrow down through them to the warm heart to sip some honey and regain her strength. But for now, all she could do was endure. She tried to imagine that warmth all around her, what it must be like to be Summerborn. One frantic headlong purpose roaring and crashing on the comb. The sun, hanging in the sky for long hot days. To fly and dance and fly again.

A short life compared to hers, barely one moon until the next. But so fast, frantic, joyous. She’d never see a young Queen, half the hive around her, rising to meet the waiting drones. Or build comb, or make honey. Hers was the longer, slower life, protecting the hive through the dark and cold. When Spring came, it would unfold like a blossom around her, the Queen would start to lay the Summerborn, and the need for her kind would be over. She would be old then, weak. Clinging harder in the dark, she waited, feeling the cold spreading through her body. Hoping, just once, she’d have a chance to fly.

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