The Entomologist: In Which I Set Three Dead Bodies On Fire.

Holidays with fireworks suuuuuck when you have a toddler. As I sit here, it’s 12:18 am and I’m finally sitting down to relax. The exciting noises started this afternoon, made her nap late, and the pop-bang ruckus will likely go on for a couple of hours. I can’t go to bed yet because she’s still not fully asleep. Sigh.

It was a great day, I loved seeing her wave her hands in the air in joy over fireworks, but I’m so stressed out from dealing with an excited adventure monkey that I doubt I’ll be able to sleep for hours.

I was hoping to clean and pack tomorrow. Looks like I’m only going to be worth playing video games until the son wakes up and we can resume the Dr. Who marathon we started today. I’m so glad my story is ready for a final edit and I won’t have to think much to keep my self-imposed general deadline of “Thursday”.

Anyway, here’s a quickie that kept bugging me through four different creative exercise prompts. It’s not that it’s an earth shattering story, but it really wanted to be told. I guess I’ll take the pictures and share this in the morning, she’s gone and woken up.

P.S. – When you take a shower at 3am and you have to turn off the water because was that noise the baby? Was that a dog barking because someone was walking by the trailer? And you’re standing there dripping wet combing shampoo through your waist length hair listening to every sound while your manly protector is half a continent away, it’s delightfully creepy.

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The Entomologist

“Oh, she is beautiful. I bet Dr. Fairweather will notice you for this one. You might even get more than just the grant out of him.” She winked.

“Excuse me?” I could never remember this one’s name. Grad students are so temporary lately.

“Was that too forward?” She smiled. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Anyway, she should help you get that grant for sure. I know you’ve certainly been working hard enough to deserve it.”

“It’s not about me. It’s not even about my work, but she does bring me some hope.” I couldn’t help the smile I felt rising to my face as I put her in the specimen jar.

“I don’t understand, what do you mean the funds aren’t available?” No, no, I needed this grant.

“I’m afraid the last of it went to Dr. Aemulus.” Fairweather wouldn’t even look me in the eye, shuffling through papers on his desk instead.

“But it was promised to me, you told me you would make sure of it.”

“Well, to be frank, she has an amazingly persuasive argument for her cause.”

“Does that argument have anything to do with the weekend you spent together?”

A deep flush spread up to his face from the over starched collar of his shirt. “Don’t be petty.”

The whole campus was abuzz with excitement.

I sipped at the champagne and wished it was mead. I like mead, the child in me enjoys sipping nectar like a bee. Dr. Aemulus came in on Fairweather’s arm and everybody clapped. The grad student said, “This should have been your event.” Incubo. That was her name. Something Incubo.

“Don’t be petty,” I sighed.

“Wait, that’s mine. That’s all mine. What are you doing with my things? That’s delicate equipment, what are you doing?”

Fairweather the betrayer came in, holding his hands up as if to physically restrain me if need be. “Calm down, we need this space for Dr. Aemulus to run her experiments. Your equipment will go down to storage where it will be safe until it’s needed again.”

“Calm down? How do men always think saying that will help?”

“Just be reasonable. The money from forensic research will be far more valuable than conservation efforts. Why are you letting some grad student put a bug in your ear anyway?”

“What grad student? How can you think I’m angry because of a grad student? You’re insane!”

I shouldn’t have to do this. I am a good person. I deserve loyalty. But no, here I am covered in fucking blood up to my arms in these stupid beetles. Necessary forensic research, my ass. This “research” has all been done before, it solves nothing. Nothing.

Out of pure spite, I crumpled his stupid starched collar before dumping more of the flesh consuming beetles over the pair of them. I patted Aemulus’s hair. “Feed your children well,” I whispered.

Fire grew in my heart. Fire grew in my eyes.

Incubo was right. Sometimes, fire is good for the forest, even if some pollinators die. I was wrong to stop the controlled burn the farmers wanted last fall. Sometimes, burning it all to the ground gives room for renewal, for the new, the strong, the helpful, to flourish and grow.

The heat tingles my skin, flush from being so near, the smoke billows to the sky and blows through my hair. I feel so alive. What an absolutely beautiful day.

They found her bones in the ashes. Her grad student stood quietly with the other onlookers as the bodies were carried away.

With a sad smile, Incubo said, “it looks like I will need a job soon. What about you? I hear you’ve been busy, but they haven’t given you the help you need,” the muse of jealousy continued, “Personally, I think you’ve been underappreciated.”

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