I drew a blank when I first saw today’s prompt and ended up Googling “moth-craft” for the first twenty minutes until something came to mind. After that I just started writing with the prompt written out in front of me until I came up with something remotely cohesive. This piece is shorter than most of the other ones I’ve written so far, and I definitely didn’t have any issues keeping it under 1,000 words. Anyway, here’s Day 6:
Prompt: “A moth-craft, ether, a plant that tells your fortune.”
I held the pliers painstakingly still as I waited for the glue to dry. It took all of my self-discipline to resist the urge to rush. This was the fourth moth-craft I’d put together today, and I was far past frustrated. “Tell me something useful you piece of crap,” I grumbled as I finished my mental thirty count.
Gingerly placing the moth on the table in front of me, I gave it a cursory inspection. Roughly twice the size of my palm, it was smaller than the other three before it, but I was quickly running out of materials and really didn’t feel like rushing to the store for more—not that I’d have the time to make the trip anyway.
Nodding to myself, I examined the wings. A soft gray, mottled with coral spots, they were made out of the most expensive cotton fabric I could find. The body I’d fashioned out of faux fur from a coat I’d picked up at the Salvation Army, and the antennae I’d crafted from silver wire. It wasn’t the best moth I’d made today, but it would have to do. I didn’t have all night to spend on this. I needed an answer soon.
Scooping up the moth-craft and cupping it in both of my hands, I held it close to my lips and whispered myself into it. “Should I lend him my assistance?” Breathing out wisps of my ether with every word of the question and willing that intention into the cloth moth. Placing the moth back down on the table, I watched as it took a tentative step forward along the butcher block, before flapping its wings and taking off around the room in wide sweeping arcs.
Turning my attention to the plant in the corner, I watched as it followed the moth around the room, obviously still hungry. Just over half as tall as I was, it was the biggest venus flytrap I’d ever seen, and the most frustrating plant I’d ever owned. Which said a lot as the greenhouse out back was home to over three hundred other specimens and all of them were finicky.
Watching as the moth made its way towards the flytrap in the corner, I held my breath as it hovered just a few inches from the plant’s enormous maw. In one unnaturally quick motion, the flytrap snapped shut around the moth-craft. I watched as the moth slowly stopped moving, the ether I’d provided it slowly sucked away. Satisfied it had gotten all the nutrition it could, the flytrap unceremoniously spat out the moth onto the ground before turning towards me and opening it’s mouth again.
“Do not seek so much to find the answer as much as to understand the question better.” The deep bass of its voice filled the room, echoing off the hardwood floors and vibrating in my chest.
“What does that even mean!?” I threw a swath of cloth at the plant in frustration.
Basically a living Magic 8-Ball, I’d inherited the flytrap from my grandfather just over five years ago along with instructions on how to make it talk. Feed the plant a question (literally), then get a fortune. The process sounded simple on the surface, but a few things made it endlessly frustrating. First off, the plant would never answer the same question twice, so I’d spent hours of my life over the last five years becoming a human thesaurus. Second, it spoke like a fortune cookie. Giving you answers so vague you generally didn’t know what they meant until the event in question had come and gone.
“Why won’t you just speak in plain English?” I flopped down at my workstation and gripped my temples hard before pulling my materials towards me and starting on a fifth moth. I racked my brain for another way to phrase the question “should I help him?”
About halfway through the new moth-craft, I tossed my materials onto the table in frustration. I could feed the flytrap all night, but it wouldn’t get me anywhere. My grandfather had been well versed in interpreting its mystic gobbledygook, but I obviously hadn’t inherited that gift.
“I’m tired of this.” Reaching into my pocket, I fished out a quarter and balanced it on the back of my thumb. “Heads I trust him, tails I don’t.” Flipping the coin into the air, I caught it in my right hand before slapping down on the back of my left.
Pushing myself away from the table, I let out a sigh full of both frustration and relief. I was happy to have a decision made, but I’d been hoping the flytrap would’ve helped me make a more educated one—as it had done for my grandfather for decades. Pushing my doubts to the fringes of my consciousness, I got up and headed towards the front door.
“Tonight’s going to be a long night,” I complained as I grabbed my coat from the closet and headed out into the cool night air. Hopefully, lack of sleep would be my biggest complaint come tomorrow morning—but with my luck, I sincerely doubted that.