Last night my sister told me that my six-year-old niece, Maya, kicked a boy in the crotch because he was trying to kill a bee and he wouldn’t listen when she told him to stop.
Because she’s so young, I can’t help but think of how this will play in the narrative of her life. If I were writing a story it would be the inciting incident.
As a spiritual person (and fairly woo), I have to admit I feel proud of her—defending nature so ferociously. Yet the conflict is that we live in a society where this isn’t an appropriate response to someone killing a bee. It is expected that she will write a card apologizing to the boy. But is the boy expected to send her a card apologizing for not respecting her desire for him not to kill something? A creature, we all know, we so desperately need to protect?
In moral terms, that aren’t so easy to apply, she’s a warrior, isn’t she? She acted in order to enforce what was right. But when you apply this to actual life and consequences this action confronts conflict, or rather, this action is in conflict. Part of this conflict is that six year olds aren’t seen as warriors, and are rarely considered prophetic.
Once when I was very sick, when it seemed that my body was unable to digest food and no doctor could figure out what was going on, I went to see a healer. At the end of our session she said that bees kept coming up, and she asked me about my relationship with them. I told her I was afraid of them, and then shared a recurring dream where there were three holes in my stomach, in the shape of a triangle, and bees were trying to get in.
The healer smiled and said something like, “In esoteric terms, bees represent power. Why are you afraid of your own power?”
Because I think in stories my mind goes to Maya’s bee-narrative’s climax and denouement, which has yet to happen. When one day, this same child or another child will try to kill a bee or will kill a bee in front of our main character and her impulse, her natural impulse will be to stop him using any means necessary, but she won’t. Imagine the narrative impact as a reader of watching our hero not act—and so we see the bee getting smeared on the ground, maybe a wing gets stuck in the tip of the boy’s shoe.
A character with a ferocious tendency towards action instead experiences the sorrow, grief and suffering of life; of all the things that can’t be controlled, of all the bees she can’t save. The story is about power, and the loss of it. But I’m a writer who believes in redemption and I trust in my character’s ferocious heart.