"Who Rekindle the Inner Spirit"
Adalina did her best to deal with
the strangeness suddenly thrust
into her life, blotting out her future.
She dealt with her skin changing
to white with dramatic stripes of
black, yellow, and orange framing
some kind of stylized bee or wasp
imprinted right over her boobs.
All of the hair had fallen off her snatch,
the bare delta now marked with
the same dramatic colors like
some kind of landing pad.
That was embarrassing.
Her hair had turned a vivid lilac
that almost glowed in the sun,
which clashed with the rest
of her new coloration.
Some other things, too,
seemed exceptionally shiny.
The flower gardens looked different,
and there were more colors everywhere.
Her soup mentor Facet gently explained
that no, Adalina wasn't going crazy and
there was nothing wrong with her eyes.
It was just that some insects could
see ultraviolet and polarized light.
A few simple tests confirmed
that now, Adalina could too.
Facet's face still looked a little creepy
to Adalina, but she was working on that.
(Her counselor was amazing. Really.)
As long as she didn't look directly at
his big bug-eyes, she enjoyed
spending time with him.
He was sweet and funny
and bashful, and darn it,
he was her hero even if
some other people didn't
think of him that way just
because of how he looked.
It was Facet who supported
Adalina while she struggled to fix
the mess that the berettaflies
had made of her semester --
she'd have to do extra work
over the summer to finish
what she'd miss, but at least
she wouldn't flunk anything.
He even coaxed her into going out
to meet the other survivors, and
some of the people who had lost
friends or family in the attack.
That was hard.
Adalina's heart still ached
from losing her classmates,
but she knew that it could
have been much worse --
one man had lost a daughter,
another his grandfather.
Even though Facet had made
the commitment to Adalina first,
and was more than a bit overworked
between that and his regular duties,
he still tried to keep tabs on the other girls
developing Insect Powers. It just wasn't
a common ability, so finding other mentors
for any of them would be difficult.
The only thing Adalina could do
to make it easier for him was to go along
without making a fuss about it, so she did.
None of them had turned out the same.
Facet said it was probably because
the berettaflies combined different bugs.
Ashley had the same stark-white skin
but without Adalina's bold markings,
and with tiny glinting spines that
gave off a deadly venom.
She was so reserved that Adalina
let her do most of the talking -- if
there was one thing that Adalina
had learned about hosting parties,
it was not to crowd the introverts.
Tsubasa had butterfly wings,
huge and beautiful, their pattern
of black and white and red similar to
yet different from the berettaflies.
Like Adalina, she could see
the strange new colors, and
was trying to figure out how
to incorporate them in her art,
so Adalina sat still and listened
to the story of those explorations.
Over the days, Facet had become
a quiet hum in the back of her mind, like
the sound of the clock beside her bed.
When Adalina visited the other girls,
she could feel them too, faint and unfamiliar,
but she thought that she could get used to them
in time, as she was getting used to Facet's face.
It was as if she blinked from one eye to
the other, the view shifting a little each time,
as those other minds brushed against her own.
Ashley felt like a sweetgum pod:
a dark little star with hidden complexities,
hard and sharp on the outside and
yet so full of life within.
Tsubasa felt like a maple samara:
seemingly delicate and elegant,
but stronger than she looked.
Facet felt like a Jack-in-the-pulpit:
rare and shy, furled around himself,
but growing inside where it couldn't be seen
and made her wonder if autumn would bring
a flash of startling scarlet seeds.
Adalina was the only one of them
who wasn't shy, sticking up brightly
like a magnolia seedpod.
Facet said that she was becoming
the queen of their little hive, that
her superpower made her ...
not necessarily their leader,
but in a way, their heart.
Hive Mind was among the rarest
of the already-rare Insect Powers,
the ability to hold whole people in
her thoughts and, in time, merge
their awareness so that they could
share some of their abilities and
energy, making them all stronger.
It was frightening ... and a little exciting.
Some mornings, Adalina just wanted
to pull the covers over her head and stay
in bed so that she didn't have to face
all the challenges the day brought.
It was exhausting to deal with everything,
and people pointing or staring, as she
struggled to put her life back together.
Sometimes Adalina felt as if
all the spark had gone out of her.
Yet Facet was always there
to give her a light when she needed it,
or coax her into visiting Ashley (who couldn't
even leave her habitat without a special suit)
or Tsubasa (some of whose relatives acted
like she was dead) just to remind everyone
that none of them were all alone in this.
Despite the challenges,
there would always be things that
made Adalina grateful, among them
the friends who rekindle the inner spirit.
* * *
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
-- Albert Schweitzer
Pet beetles are popular in various countries, especially Japan. The Japanese stag beetles include the rare "black diamond" variety. Here are some general tips on beetle care. Facet loves beetles.
Sweet gum pods are the seeds of the sweet gum tree. Don't step on these.
Samaras are the winged seeds of maple trees.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit is a rare wildflower.
Magnolia trees produce thick pods, sometimes quite colorful.
Depression can happen for many reasons, but trauma is the most common cause. Note that this is a mental injury rather than a mental illness, and some of the treatments therefore differ. Adalina needs to process what happened to her and adapt to her new life; once she's done that, the depression will wear off after a few weeks or months. If your life has hit the fan and you feel depressed over that, work the problem and don't worry about it too much unless it doesn't get better or you're having serious trouble coping. The disorder refers to when someone gets stuck in the low mood or can't function. There are tips for dealing with depression or helping a depressed friend socialize.