Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Bug Dance

by Stacey Dennick

I sit at the desk in my new office, the room that is so beautiful, I cried when my husband and I moved into this house, six weeks ago.

Checking my email, I see there's nothing new since the last time I looked, two minutes ago. I lift the cardboard box containing my Master's thesis novel out of a drawer. Sighing, I place it onto a pile of books and notes. Sunlight illuminates the yellow leaves of the scrub outside my window. Redwood trees stand regal in the distance; blackberry vines sweep up the hill to the edge of the yard. Up until yesterday they engulfed everything. My legs are covered in scratches from the battle.

I put on my hiking boots and take up a hoe to wrestle ivy rather than words. The yard has been neglected for years, affording many opportunities for avoidance. Attacking one of several ivy mounds, I hack through dead leaves and vines until I hit something hard. It's a rotten fence post, covered in clumps of slimy dirt. One falls onto my leg and I kick it off. I'm hoeing vines into a pile when I feel something wet on my thigh. I yank my Capri pants down around my ankles to check. A three-inch long beetle sits on my thigh. I shriek and swat at it, then run up to the porch, where I pull off the rest of my clothes in a panic. My heart rate is up around 190.

A remote part of my mind is aware that I am overreacting. The bug is small compared to me, it hasn't bitten me, and it probably fell off right away. But this part of my brain isn't in charge. I can't stop muttering, "Hideous bug, disgusting, hideous!"

I'm standing naked in my shoes, hopping from foot to foot, when my husband appears. He's covered in sawdust from his building project, his brow furrowed with concern.

"Is it still on me?" My voice is high and whimpery. I can't stand still. "A disgusting bug. Huge."

Luckily no neighbors can see our back porch.

"Was that you that screamed?" He breaks into a smile. "I thought it was an animal or some kids playing."

"Bug check! Bug check!" I chant. I've found ticks on my skin twice since we moved here. Insects are not allowed to touch me.

Arms up, I rotate. He examines me, a smirk on his face.

"All clear."

I continue to describe the repulsive insect until my pulse lowers and my husband returns to his labors.

The ivy mound still stands, but I'm finished with gardening for the day. Suddenly, writing doesn't seem so difficult. I can hardly wait to get back to my manuscript.

Author Stacey Dennick recently moved to Sebastopol, California. She created her research website for writers, www.writersquest.org, while working on her MFA thesis–a historical novel set in 1950. Her work has appeared in the Pacific Sun, Videography and BIKE magazines, among other publications. Please see www.sdennick.com.

Eighteenth Flash

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Storm Clouds by Maggie Manning
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Power Surges by Elaine Webster
Plug Shooter by John Macdonald
Niagara Falls (for Jon) by Tania Pryputniewicz
Summer’s Passion by Joan Zerrien

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