Saturday, January 21, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere

I was 7 or 8 years old. It was all around me. The soft green water, cool against my skin, swallowing me. I could see the sunlight rippling on the surface just a few feet above my head. To my right the light streaked into the water creating interesting patterns. When I moved my hand through them the patterns broke up and scattered like children in a playground. When I squinted into the water in front of me I could see fine grains of sand swirling about. I floated trying not to disturb anything, my lips pursed, my cheeks puffed out from having to hold my breath. My little white swimsuit billowed around me. And then the wave was gone and I was gulping for air in the bright sunlight.

We were staying at a humble little hotel on the beach. I spent all the time I could in the ocean. My parents were fed up. They would be yelling at me from the sand, asking me to come out. Finally my mom would come to the water’s edge and issue me an ultimatum. You come out right now or else. She never finished that sentence. I should have asked, or else what? But a child’s imagination can conjure up horrors that an adult’s can barely conceive so when she said "or else" I obeyed. Maybe she knew that. That’s why she didn’t finish the sentence. Or maybe she didn’t want to commit herself to any one form of punishment.

We had bread with a little pat of butter and some water. I got angry. She pulled me out of the water for bread? Bread was all we could afford.

Afterwards I went back into the water. I came out of my own volition when it started to get dark. Suddenly the soothing green jello dissipated into sinister black shadows. I ran out of the water and inside.

That was the night the beetles came. They came in a swarm, each as big as a football. Okay, so there were only five and they were a little larger than normal.

We had the window open because of the summer heat. My mother was entering today’s expenses in her diary where she always wrote down everything we spent. She used to write down every penny. I was asleep next to her. Suddenly the beetles rocketed in through the window in all their splendored glory. I am surprised they didn’t drop down dead from collective shock at what followed. My mother screamed. I woke up and screamed. My aunt next door heard us and screamed. Her daughter woke up, cried out and screamed. My other aunt across the hall heard our screams and screamed. Her husband woke up and screamed. Sympathy screams everywhere. Outside dogs barked. Somewhere a baby started to cry. The beetles turned on their heels and flew right out into the comforting arms of the wild night.


Blogger lastplanet said...

Beetles have feelings too.
You write beautifully.

1/21/2006 4:39 PM  
Blogger mmb said...

I agree, you write beautifully.

1/22/2006 1:11 AM  
Blogger beefdrop said...

I like insects, and am wondering where you were, and what these monstrosities could have been?

1/23/2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger cherchezlafemme said...

lastplanet, mmb, thanks.

beefdrop, I have no idea. They were black, they were fat and they had wings.

1/23/2006 2:47 PM  

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