Willie the fly

This is a childrens' bedtime story....

Willie the Fly was the loneliest fly in the whole world.

He didn't have any friends, well not really good ones, and he didn't have any family. Everybody else seemed to have a family and Willie thought, “Why don't I have one?”

“Bye bye,” they would call to their friends. “I'm going home.” and off to their home they would go where someone would make their supper or put them to bed or clean their clothes. Home was a place where somebody told them what to do or even, what not to do. Sometimes Willie had followed them to their homes and had seen it all.

Nobody told Willie off when he did something naughty; not that he wanted to be told off! But he would have liked somebody to have cared; nobody did.

He was left entirely on his own. Willie the fly just buzzed around the seashore, getting the occasional swipe if he came too close to people.

“Shoo! Go away!”

“Pesky flies.”

“Buzz off fly!”

Never a kind word or the offer of a jam tart; nothing!

The ants had families he noticed. Deep inside their ant hills, when they were finished their day's work, he watched them all chatting and chirping and laughing. He watched them exchanging news and planning for the next day. The flies never did that.

Even the bees had a proper home. They buzzed in there at night, tired and worn out after their busy day. He watched them going there all droopy, sleepy and quiet but, as soon as they got inside, he could hear the loud din of their buzzing. The whole hive would be rocking with the sound of it. The hive itself sounded like one great giant bee. He knew exactly what they were doing. Oh yes, he knew! One day he had followed them there and peered in without being seen.

“They're telling each other stories,” he muttered to himself; “all having a buzz and a chat over supper.”

“Who got the nectar from that big red flower?” one would say.

“Not me, I think it was the wasps.”

He watched them pulling off their boots, scratching their legs; hanging up their coats and flicking away loose bits of pollen before they settled into bed. He listened in silence as he watched them all drift off to sleep in a sea of low soft buzzing.

“Why can't I have a family?” he sighed.

Then he went back to his little crack in the seaside wall with a tear just about to trickle off the end of his nose and settled down to sleep.

“I want a home,” he said to another fly the next day.

“Don't be silly! Flies don't have homes and families. We're the wandering sort. We don't settle down.”

“I do,” said Willie.

“Come on fly – snap out of it! You're a disgrace, a disgrace and an insult to flykind!”

“I'm not,” protested Willie.

“Well, fly off and prove it then. Stop this silly dreaming.”

But Willie just couldn't stop wishing, hoping, dreaming and longing for a family of his own. A place to come home to.

Now, it was possibly because he was dreaming and not watching what he was doing that the next thing happened. Unbelievably for a smart fly like Willie, he did not jump out of the way when the donkey flicked his tail. In a split second he was caught in the rough black hairs and was being flicked about to and fro. Then, quite suddenly, the tail slammed downwards and Willie was catapulted right into the wet sand.

The donkey trotted on and kicked a hoof-full of sand right on top of poor Willie. He cleaned it out of his mouth and tried to get up; but he couldn't. He couldn't move! His wings were held fast by a pebble and his feet were sticking up in the air. He was stuck fast!

“All I have to do is yell,” he thought but when he did, a great ugly spider looked in his direction. Willie's stopped yelling rather promptly and held his breath so that not even a tiny little squeak could get out by mistake. The spider lost interest and shuffled off and Willie let go of his breath.

“Whew!” he gasped.

All afternoon he lay there being as quiet as possible. Occasionally, he would let out a quick, rather quiet “Help!” and then look round to see if the spider had heard. He hadn't but neither had his friends who were nowhere to be seen.

Over and over again, feet crashed down on either side of him but somehow they had all missed him. Nothing happened to him, nothing at all, he was left, ignored and all alone and still stuck there when everyone, even the donkeys, had gone home for the night.

Nobody would even know he was missing. Nobody else shared his crack in the wall. He looked up and saw it, empty and waiting for him to return but he couldn't reach it. He couldn't move an inch.

It was then, as he was looking up to his crack in the wall, alone in the bright moonlight, that he heard the awful sound of waves. They were so near to him that he could nearly feel their spray. He could hear them dragging the sand into the sea; the night tide had arrived. Swishhh ….swishhhh…... swishhhhhh …..

He struggled furiously but his strength was gone and all he could was wait till the awful thing happened ….. till he too was dragged into the foaming sea. Eventually it began surround him with white swirling froth. He held his breath as the water freed his wings and sent him rolling and tumbling on the salty sea.

Farther and farther it pulled him out into the water. He paddled furiously and tried to swim back but the water was too heavy and his wings were now dragging him down. Tired and exhausted, he lay on his back again and looked up at the moon.

“Goodbye Moon. I expect I'll never see you again,” he said mournfully. He bobbed about, not bothering to shout for help. He turned his head to the land. Somewhere out there were the other flies, all sleeping in their own cracks. Somewhere out there was his own crack with no-one in it. He was about to look up again when the silver scales of a fish caught his eye.

Now he did shout, and really loudly!

“Help! Help me somebody! Anybody! Help!” he screamed and tried again to get out of the water. His feet paddled and paddled but his wings were useless; they stuck to him like wet paper and pulled him back.

“Help!” he shouted again.”

“Catch hold of my hand,” said a little voice.

“All right,” said Willie but when he looked around there was no one, nothing; just empty sea and the big fish's mouth opening up in front of him.

“Where are you?” he yelled.

“Here,” came the reply and, although he still didn't see anybody, he felt a hand catching hold of him. With one swift jerk it pulled him to safety. He was up and out of the water.

He looked down and saw the big fish swallowing a mouthful of empty sea.

“Ha Ha!” called Willie “You missed me!”

It flicked its tail in anger and swam in a tight circle to have another look.

Willie rubbed the sea water out of his eyes and saw, for the first time, that he was sitting on a ring of light. As far as he knew, light was not something you sat on but that is exactly what he was doing and it seemed to be working. Sitting along side him was a stick like creature, no bigger than himself, smiling happily.

“Hello,” it said. “My name is Jick.”

“Was that you? Did you pull me up?”

“Well you were yelling , ‘help me, help me'” said Jick and shrugged his stick like shoulders. “So I did. I hope you don't mind.”

“Mind! Of course not; you've just saved my life!”

Jick leaned over the ring and looked down at the circling fish beating about in the dark water.

“Yes, I agree. Now lets get you home,” he said.

Willie was about to say something but the words didn't come. Perhaps it was because he had been stuck in the sand all day, or because he had nearly drowned and been eaten by a fish but he suddenly flopped over the ring, panting for breath.

Jick caught hold of him just as he was about to slide off and back into the water.

“I think I'd better make sure you are well first. You poor fellow; come home with me and I will dry you out,” he said.

“I don't know if I can. I can't even move. How can I go anywhere?” said Willie feebly.

“Leave that to me,” said Jick and started spinning the ring of light.

What was once just a flat ring, suddenly grew up and up into a hollow tube which stretched higher than Willie could see.

“Oh how beautiful,” cried Willie as the circling rings of light formed an immense tube going up and up into the night sky.

“How beautiful; I've never seen anything like it. What is it?” asked Willie.

“The inside of a moonbeam,” said Jick.

“But moonbeams aren't hollow! How can that be?” said Willie. “I've never seen a moonbeam like this before.”

Jick wagged a thin little finger at him.

“Have you ever seen a starlight pony or a sunray express?”

It meant nothing to Willie.

“I don't know. What are they?” he said.

“Well, there you are,” said Jick triumphantly. “There are lots of things you haven't seen, isn't there?”

But Jick knew he mustn't waste time talking. He could see that he needed to get Willie to a safe place very quickly.

“Hold on,” he called and they began to move upwards inside the ring of light. At first they travelled very slowly but soon they were going faster and faster.

“What do I hold on to?” shouted Willie but Jick didn't seem to hear and his words floated away like mist.

To be truthful, Willie wasn't really worried. He had just then decided that, for the first time, there was at least someone looking out for him. Not only that, that someone seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Jick was sitting calmly beside him and not the least bit bothered about anything.

Can you imagine what it would be like to go for a slide and find that you could slide up just as easily as you could slide down? Well, that is what it felt like to Willie and he actually began to enjoy the ride.

As the ride went on Willie even found himself shrieking and shouting “Whee!” as they whizzed round a particularly sharp turn, spinning and twisting upwards and upwards. Jick just watched him and smiled.

“We're nearly there.” Said Jick as they began to slow down.

“Here we are” said Jick “I'll go first and help you down.”

Willie did not know whether to feel happy or sad at this news since he had never had a better ride in his life.

“Good,” he said at last “where are we?”

Jick did not answer as he was busy climbing up towards the hole at the top of the tube of light. Jick suddenly plopped out of sight for as he disappeared past the rim. It really did look as though he had climbed upwards and out of the tube but Willie got a big surprise. Jick appeared again very quickly and gave Willie his hand so that he too could climb out. What was his surprise when he found himself not going up but dropping down; down onto grey shiny sand. “This is most confusing,” he thought, “most confusing.”

He looked up and he couldn't see the tube, only a dark sky and way, way high up, a round ball of light; bigger than any moon he had ever seen.

“What's that?” he asked.

“The Earth of course – from the moon where we are, it looks quite different. Doesn't it?.

Willie just nodded quietly and got to his feet. Jick took his arm and slowly led him back to his house.

Jick's Mum and dad had never seen anything quite like Willie. After all, he was the first fly on the moon!

They fussed and worried over him. Brought him soft warm towels and wrapped him up snugly with a bowl of hot soup in his hand.

Willie said thank you to them over and over again becoming more and more sleepy every minute. Eventually he fell fast asleep feeling warm, safe and comfortable.

When he awoke, the fire was crackling in the grate and Jick's father was sitting by its light reading a book. Jick's mother was having a snooze herself in a funny old rocking chair and Jick was fiddling away at a new gadget he was making.

“Ah,” thought Willie, “just what I've always dreamed of. A family!”

He pretended to be asleep for a long time and just watched them happily; feeling warm and comfortable on a big soft cushion.

Eventually he said “hello,” and everybody looked up.

“How are you?”

“Are you feeling better?”

“Are your wings all right?”

Willie was not sure who to answer first. He nodded politely and unravelled the fluffy towel.

“Great,” he said. “Can I fly around a bit and see things?”

“Yes, come on,” said Jick. “I'll show you.”

Then Willie stretched and brought out his wings. The family gasped in wonder and clapped and cheered. It was the most magnificent sight they had ever seen. In the light of the moon his plain clear wings had taken on a strange new beauty of their own. Even Willie was amazed. He flapped and fluttered them for a minute then, in gentle slow motion, took off.

Up there, on the moon, his flight was as graceful as an eagle's. He soared and swooped. He glided and dived with magnificent ease. No one, young or old, had seen anything like it. His full acrobatic abilities were only just beginning. Willie was ecstatic. He turned and twisted; moved up and down, left and right, with a flair that improved more and more as the flight went on.

Down below he now heard the sound of cheering and clapping.

“Bravo! Bravo! They all shouted. Every single moon creature had assembled to see the display.

This was the happiest day in Willie's life. He floated down carefully to the village square. The moon creatures moved aside and let him land.

“Magnificent! Well done!” they shouted.

“Thank you,” said Willie shyly.

“It was not long before the children were asking for a ride and Willie was delighted to take them for one spin each around the village.

They were having such a splendid time that nobody noticed how late it had become. All too soon it was time for everyone to go home.

“Bye,” they said to Willie. “I hope we see you again.”

“Bye,” said Willie and watched them all go. All except one; Jick was still there and took his hand and led him back to is own house.

And so it was that the very first fly on the moon stayed in the stick people's home just like one of the family. They made him feel welcome every single day and he became the best messenger the moon village ever had.

After a while, Jick got round to showing him how to ride the moonbeams.

Once he had got the hang of it, Willie went back to see his beach. He visited his empty crack in the wall and said hello to one or two of the other flies who gave him a short quick wave and buzzed off.

He watched the donkey's parading up and down and made sure he stayed well away from its tail. “Its not so bad,” he thought but now he was eager to get back.

He waved goodbye to the old place with a happy heart and caught the next moonbeam straight back HOME.


© Written by Ursula West , Ampleforth, 1989