Fluttering quietly that night, we approached the great light. It gave birth to shadows, just like the sun. It held warmth, transcribed into each metals and glasses encasing it. The handle was cold, however, with no hint of heat taint nor sun flares. Many pitiful climbers dared not to venture higher than their wings may take them.
The sparkle was there. We believed this was the light that would guide us to utopia.
You know—the kind of place where you can get unlimited supplies of food and water. Where no one had the need to compete or kill in order to survive the harsh and cruel ecosystem. Yes, the sparkle was there, and we began to refer to it as our light of hope.
This night, we would conquer it.
We would make the earth, the sky, the warmth of the soil, and the sweet taste of a berry tree sap ours. Gone would be the days of harsh enslavement and terror from bigger folks who ravaged our nests and pillaged our kinds without mercy. Gone would be the days of endless searching for water. Or the days when foods were taken from us at the cost of our lives. The sensation ever so reverberating in our hearts, it began to take over our soul with desire and greed. The sense of impending freedom; the smell of an encased heaven. Nothing else mattered to us.
We flew closer, glided over open air and the stainless handle encasing the light of hope. We roosted on the borders of light. The heat was real; the feeling of burn struck our gut and confidence. We began to question whether a paradise would feel so hot. We began to waver and guessed whether this was the sacred flames of purgatory, or the wicked plumes of hell. Each second we waste dehydrated our wings severely. After several seconds exposed to direct heat, one of us fell with honor. And then came along the second one, the third one, and before long, all of them. The task had proven to be too harsh on them.
I alone persevered, and lifted my wings to get a better look and hopefully seize the spherical dawn. It felt so close I could actually taste the skies. I was so sure I would attain it in mere milliseconds, until I, too, had my wings stripped away, incinerated and obliterated with disgrace. The moment that waited me was clear. I had failed my mission, and I fell.
Only, I did not fall into the ground. Those who did became prey of the hungry ant folks. I ended up falling, yet cradled within the metal encasing the borders of light. The so-called and once revered light of hope in our mother tongue.
As I felt my life faded away before me, I came to remember several things. Like the sun-sweet taste of fruits flesh bore from treetops. Or the adrenaline rush we got when faced against mighty enemies. Also the refreshing drop of dew upon every daybreak, the wisdom of the elders who objected our plans. And finally, the love we shared and the storms we had weathered to come to this day.
After that, I cried. Or at least I thought I would have. Because only after the burn did I realize the significance of one’s life.
Only after the burn did I realize no light of hope ever worth the lives of my people.
Only after the burn did I realize, we didn’t need the great light.
Only after the burn did I realize, the heaven we sought was, in fact, earth itself.