I was a vegan, you know. That was my choice. All the others—well, as soon my siblings wriggled free from the amber chambers of our pupal stage, they began to indulge their taste for the fetid and putrefying. They dove into the waxy mustard lakes of Aunt Peggy’s deviled eggs, lapping at stale currents of cayenne that dappled her discarded delights; they flew straight through tin-toothed mouths into hollow cans of cat food, kissing every centimeter of metal to sponge up flecks of flesh from what was once a fancy feast. And when Tiger graced the lawn with yet more evidence of hyperactive bowels, they swarmed his coiled legacy and clung to its moist clay.
I loved my friends. I hated their diets. I spurned the decaying and chose the delicate. I lived on dew and nectar alone.
Yesterday, as I skirted the borders of a bog not far from our home, a strange syrup seized my senses: a sap whose scent I had never before smelled. Sweet is the wrong word. It was subtle and pure—a drop of honey diluted in a pool of raindrops. But tinged, too, with the exotic. So consuming was my curiosity that I could not resist exploring.
When I found the source of my intoxication, I circled it in arcs of elastic ecstasy. I’d never seen such alien flowers: fine green lashes that fringed scarlet hearts, each one perched upon a flat stock that seemed to bow slightly under the weight of its crown. Alien, yes; but there was nothing to fear here. These were open hearts. I could practically taste the glistening glaze upon their taut skin, which, in that moment of desire, seemed to pulse in recognition of my arrival.
I landed. I took one step towards the heart’s heart. I uncurled my proboscis, sampling the sap around my feet. I took another step.
What did I taste, exactly? I could not tell you. I cannot remember any flavors. What I remember is a sudden gasp, like some great beast sucking in its own breath. What I remember is an immense pressure all around me. What I remember is the horror of unexpected darkness.
Fear and confusion turned to panic and struggle. I wasn’t completely paralyzed. I tried to fly, my wings buzzing with such fury I could have sworn the air around me would catch fire. But nothing happened. There was only the terrible sound of my own futile shivering.
At some point last night I stopped moving altogether. I can feel a sticky soup oozing around me—into me, in fact. It burns like a slow acid fire. With one eye I glimpse the row of interlocking spines above me. I understand now that I mistook teeth for eyelashes. My other eye is pinned so tightly to the wall of my prison that I can almost make out silhouettes of the outside world. Or perhaps the juices have begun to eat through my head.
I was vegan, you know. Never touched meat; never harmed another living thing. I lived on dew and nectar alone.
How long do plants take to digest their meals?