"I don't believe you! There's no such thing as a giant bug that can make a person change colors!" laughed Charlene. Her guide had told her many outlandish tales on the way to his home village, but the most unbelievable by far was that of the Peacock Mosquito.
"There are many things in Africa which outsiders have never experienced. My Grandmother Gudaya encountered the Peacock Mosquito when my father was only three years old."
"What happened to her, Johnny?" asked Charlene, suddenly interested. His tone had been too serious and matter of fact to ignore.
"She was at the river, fetching water. When she dipped it, something pricked her on the back. It didn't hurt, but it started itching right away. She couldn't see it, but she knew it was an insect bite.
Gudaya looked in back of her, but didn't see anything. So she turned around to get the water, and there it was. The creature was unlike anything she had seen, or even heard of.
Its body was almost transparent, except for where the brilliant colors reflected the sunlight. They were very much like the colors of our peacocks. The wings and tail were the most colorful. The tail even looked like a peacock's, and was as long as Gudaya herself. The insect itself was about the size of her hand."
"What did she do?" asked Charlene, now completely absorbed.
"She just watched it, until it flew away. Then she went home. By that time, she had forgotten the bite. It no longer itched. But when Grandfather saw her, he was amazed. The bite was not visible, but her skin was changing color. Mostly shades of blue and green. They were in the pattern of the peacock tail feathers. Over the next few days, this spread all over her body."
"Did she have a fever, or any other bad reactions?" asked Charlene, horrified.
"No, but at first everyone thought she would die. She did not, but she never returned to normal. Not that I would have wished for that. Grandmother Gudaya is beautiful." he replied proudly.
"Is... She still living?" whispered Charlene, looking around hopefully.
"Yes. I will see her tonight, when I go home for the night. Would you like to meet her?"
"Oh yes!" she said, suddenly as excited as a little girl.
A group of women walked by, dressed in colorful, lightweight, loose fitting gowns. One lady broke away from the others. She hugged Johnny. Charlene had gone to the other side of the jeep, to give them privacy.
"Charlene. Come meet Grandmother Gudaya."
Charlene's eyes widened, and she walked towards the two. When she got within a few feet, she saw on the still smooth skin, a brilliant array of colors sparkling in the sun. They were natural, nothing like a tattoo or any type of paint or makeup. Her hair was patterned much like a peacock's tail.
Johnny had been right, she was beautiful. Despite being an elder, she appeared ageless. There was a grace and energy in her which spoke of good health. Is this was what the bite of the "monster" causes? If so, Charlene would happily track it down and offer it a taste of her blood.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ma'am." she said, when she found her voice.
"It's nice to meet you too, child." she said in greeting, taking Charlene's hands in her own.
"Please show me where you saw the Peacock Mosquito?" she asked hopefully.
"I go there now, to get water. But I only saw it the one time."
"Thank you. I would love to meet the creature, but just seeing the spot will be enough."
Secretly she thought once there, if she looked around enough, she would probably find it. But there was no such luck. Admitting to herself that such a rare species might now be extinct, she decided to just enjoy the rest of her time in the village.
The next morning, she went to the river for a swim. The sun was barely up, but the air was already hot. She was alone, except for the creatures of the forest.
After her swim, she bathed. Tilting her head up to rinse her hair with a small wooden bowl, a soft multicolored tail softly brushed her cheek. It was the Peacock Mosquito, just as Johnny had described. It flew away before she could even hope to gain any possible benefits. If she wanted to see it again, she would have to return to that little corner of paradise.
Original Fractal Artwork by me, and edited on Canva. Text from Canva, as well as background which was cropped and darkened to better display the artwork.