Flying in Circles
by Don Nelson
Toby dreamed of flying fast and high through the sky. Unfortunately, the other young butterflies made fun of him because he had just one wing. It took Toby a long time to get anywhere because he could only fly in circles, and so he always came in last in the treasure-hunt races.
One day Toby’s mom saw him sitting alone under a large flower. She said, “Why aren’t you out playing with your friends? It’s such a beautiful day.”
Toby replied, “Oh, Mom, you know the other kids don’t want to play with me because I can’t keep up with them.”
She looked at her son and smiled. “Do you know anyone who doesn’t make fun of you?”
“Oh sure. There’s my friend Hermie. He’s an ant. He walks with a limp, so none of the other ants will play with him.”
Toby’s mom said, “Why don’t you go find Hermie and see if he wants to play with you today.”
Toby flew in lots of small circles until he reached his friend’s anthill home.
“Hey Hermie,” Toby yelled out. “Do you want to play down by the willow pond?”
Hermie looked at his friend with sad eyes and said, “No. That’s way too far for me to walk with my bad leg.”
Toby had a great idea. “Hey, you don’t weigh very much. How about I give you a ride on my back. Just hop on and hold on tight.”
It was a funny sight to see an ant with a crooked leg sitting on the back of a butterfly that could only fly in circles.
“Stop, Toby, stop!” yelled the little ant. “You have to land right now. I’m getting dizzy. I’m afraid I’ll fall off your back.”
Toby made a looping emergency landing onto a small tree branch. Hermie’s face had turned green from the wild ride.
“I’m sorry, Hermie. I’m so used to flying in circles, I never get dizzy."
“I’ll be okay,” the little ant said. “I just need to sit here for a few minutes.”
Toby said, “I have an idea how we can get down to the willow pond. You can help me fly in a straight line, just like the other butterflies.”
The ant got excited. “If we fly in a straight line, I won’t get airsick.”
“Yeah, and the others kids won’t make fun of us anymore.”
Hermie began rubbing his bad leg, trying to imagine how he could help his friend fly in a straight line.
“Wait right here,” Toby said. “I saw something that will help us fly straight.”
Toby flew off into the tall grass and returned with a bird’s tail-feather and a piece of string. He tied the feather onto Hermie’s good front leg using the string.
The ant jumped onto Toby’s back and hollered, “Yippee! Let’s head for the pond.”
Toby lifted off in his normal circular pattern as Hermie waved his feather wing up and down in the air. The movement was just enough to allow him to fly in a straight line for the first time in his life.
Toby hollered, “Wow, this is so cool. Look how fast we are flying and I’m not half as tired as usual.”
Toby began making a slow left turn over the willow pond where a bunch of butterflies were playing.
“Hey, let’s buzz them,” Hermie yelled. “Won’t they be surprised?”
“Okay,” said Toby. “Hold on tight. One ant-assisted ‘buzz’ coming up.”
The flying duo swooped down over the water’s surface, then did two large loop-de-loops followed by an upside-down and backwards half-roll.
The butterflies stopped playing. With their tiny mouths open, they watched in amazement.
“Yippee,” cried Hermie. “That was fun. I didn’t know we could do that.”
“Neither did I,” said Toby. “Just think of all the neat things we can do if we practice hard.”
Toby and Hermie worked on their flying tricks every day, and when they grew up, they joined an Animal Circus. Soon, they became the finest butterfly-and-ant acrobatic team in the world. Sometimes Toby would fly in circles just for fun to let Hermie rest. But best of all, no one ever laughed at them ever again.