Insect Story for Insect Week: Richard’s Bug

More proper posts soon…

But in the meantime a ‘story-ette’ I wrote for a friend’s retirement do. Looking at it again I think it could be one of a little series, and certainly longer. Anyway I like it. See if you do.

Richard’s Bug


Richard’s little sister Kelly, was standing up in her cot saying one of the only two words she knew

“OK.” she said ” Ohh kaye!” there was a kind of upturn on the ‘kay’ part and a higher pitch with every repetition.

“Oh kayyye”

This was a bad because it showed that, right now for Kelly, things were really not OK at all. ‘OK’ was what she said when something scared her. She tried hard not to panic about stuff, Richard knew that,  but when you are not quite two, not panicking is hard, because you don’t know anything. Every new thing in your world is potentially lethal. ‘OK’ was what Kelly said just before she did actually  panic and started to scream. And Kelly screaming was a very bad thing, not just because it was loud and it hurt your ears, but  because it attracted the wrong kind of attention. A parent coming to a screaming Kelly, mean somebody got slapped, especially if it was

“Too flippin’early”. Which it was now, because the sky was pinky coloured and that was the colour of sky when it was ‘too flipping’ early’. Richard knew this because he was five.

For a moment Richard contemplated simply sliding underneath his duvet and pretending to be asleep so, in a moment, when Kelly would begin to really scream, only she would get slapped. But he knew that was mean. He was Kelly’s big brother and it was up to him to look out for her.

He got out of bed and climbed into her cot. Snot and tears were rolling down Kelly’s face and her nappy was all yellow and saggy. She was staring at something in the corner of her cot

“Oooohhh kaaye. Ooooowww kaaaye!”

Richard couldn’t immediately see what it was, but it couldn’t be anything really bad, because something really bad, like a murderer or a crocodile couldn’t fit in the cot. He stood right beside Kelly and let her cling on to him and bury her snotty little face in his Bob the Builder  pyjama top. Then he looked where she had been looking.

It was so weird he almost wanted to say ‘Oh kaaaye’ himself. It was a bug, but not any kind he had seen before. It was pretty big (though much smaller than he was Richard told himself. He could squish it easy if things got tricky) and  bright green, like apples, with two long feelers like green hairs and long, bendy back legs. Also it had eyes. Richard, being five, knew that bugs had eyes, but only dots, not eyes that looked at you. This bug was definitely looking at him.

That was interesting. Richard stopped needing to say ‘Oh kay’ to himself in his head. He found Kelly’s cuddly and gave it to her, so she could suck her thumb, then he went down on his hands and knees and slowly approached the bug.  Now he was nose to nose with it, almost. It wasn’t scared at all. It stood still, waving its feeler things and looking at him with its funny eyes, that were like green glass or mirrors, kind of see through and not at the same time.

Gently, Richard slid his hand forward, so the tips of his fingers were touching the bug’s front feet. They were serrated, like paper was after Mrs Bernstein cut it with her special scissors, so when the bug moved forward onto his hand it was sort of prickly, but in a good way. Richard could feel the tiny, spiky imprint of all of the bug’s six legs and even feel the minute brushings of its feelers as it investigated his skin. He lifted up his hand until the bug was at the level of his face. It was beautiful. In fact Richard realised that it was probably the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

Kelly saw it on his hand and took the dummy straight out of her mouth

“ohhhh kaaaaayyyy”. That was the kind of OK that came right before a full volume scream. Richard had to act fast. He said sorry to the bug and cupped his other hand over it, whilst he climbed out of the cot. He went to the open window and positioned his body so Kelly could no longer see if he was holding the bug. He heard the ‘supp’ sound as she replaced the dummy in her mouth. All he had to do now was work out how to put the bug back where it came from.

Richard stood on tiptoe and held the bug on his hand just outside the window. The air was already warm, and the traffic in the streets far below was already starting to growl. The window had to be how the bug had got in, but where from? The nearest park was out of sight, even from up here on the sixty third floor. And how did it get up here? He remembered some TV show had said that fleas could jump over the Empire State building. Maybe it had jumped way up here, but a bug like this couldn’t live down there amongst the cars and concrete. It must have flown. Some bugs could fold up their wings as neat as a mini umbrella, so you hardly knew they were there.

He spoke to the bug. He knew this was kind of stupid, but it had looked at him so maybe talking to it might help.

“You have to go now,” he told it, “I like you, but my sister, she’s only two and she’s scared.”

The bug looked back at him and waved its feelers a bit. He wiggled his hand up and down to make an encouraging breeze. This worked because big, green and yellow wings unfolded, suddenly, as if someone had pressed a button on a pop up toy. There was a dry, whirring sound and the bug took off. It looked a bit wobbly and its flight path was rather banana shaped, but it was fast and in less than heartbeat Richard had lost sight of it.

He closed the window, to keep out the traffic noise and climbed into Kelly’s cot. He snuggled up with her under her duvet. Mrs Bernstein always said ‘things happen for a reason’, so why had the bug happened? What did it mean?

He thought about  it, its greeness, its whirring wings and its strange  eyes that had seen him. And then, Richard knew the meaning of the bug. The meaning was that there was a world, big and wide, quite beautiful, out there, where no morning was too flippin’ early, and nobody ever needed to say ‘oh kaaayy’, even in their head. He smiled, shut his eyes and went back to sleep.

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