Big Bug Love
Robert Shapard

You don't need to kill yourself for love...
but sometimes it's hard not to
Larry Brown

I'm sitting in the windowsill when, poom, my mate hits the screen. He whirs his wings, fumbles around the screen, finds a way under, and comes high stepping his way to me-oh, he is one good-looking bug who won't be denied.

It's the same for the girl I share this apartment with, when her man comes knocking. She says where have you been all week? He says I love you and she says ha. It doesn't matter if she's hungry and tired, just home from work, he wants to get a buzz on. I can't live this way, she says. But she lets him drag her into the bedroom.

I can't deny my mate and I are humming. Our feelers are all over each other. He's going nung, nung, nung, nung, nung, crazy as always, and there's always that shock in my joints that makes me buck and grab. Before I know it, I've torn his head off and I'm eating it. It's like a terrible dream, but a lovely one. My heart thrums, thrums. Unfortunately, I wake up and see my lover has fallen to pieces. It doesn't help that it's happened before.

Last week, for my roommate, it was different. There was a fight. She cried and kicked him out for good. Every night since then I've sat motionless in the windowsill thinking over her words, I can't live like this. My question is, What other way is there?

I try to imagine what if she lived like me.

First of all, she'd have a dead body on her hands. Then what would she do? Probably sleep all day, to store up energy. Before evening she'd wake and push him off the bed. She'd wrap him in a sheet and pull him sliding over the bedroom floor and across the kitchen linoleum, out the back door, to the porch, where she'd push him under the railing until he fell. It's a second-floor apartment, a long way down. He'd make a big whack when he hit the ground. She'd stay motionless for a long time. What if somebody came out and started screaming over the sheet with a headless thorax in it and maybe a leg that's come out? You have to always be ready to fly away. But the woods in back are close and it's dim and sounds are muffled by the traffic on the side street and in the boulevard in front.

If nothing happened she could go back in and forget him. Anyway try to, because it's never easy losing a lover. Sometimes you feel so empty. It takes courage sometimes just making it from one hour to the next.

The best thing is to work. She could clean up, sponge-mop the kitchen, back to the bedroom where most of the blood is. Mop and rinse till the water's hardly pink. Stuff his clothes in a black garbage bag, throw clean sheets on the bed. Then maybe she could take her shower and wash him out of her hair. She could sing a soft chirpy song like I do sometimes, I'm here, he's gone, I'm here, he's gone.

Then since it's hot this evening she could go out to the cool of the front porch and comb the tangles out of her hair. It's lovely out: the air perfumed with the meat of charcoal grills, the first stars coming out, the murmur of voices and laughter from people having drinks in the parking lot.

I know that she never wanted to hurt him, even though she got rid of him. It's only that she needed to protect herself. Of course, if she's like me she gets hungry, too. Does she have the urge to move like I do on to another apartment, in another part of town?

She turns to go inside but is surprised by the voice of a young man standing under the balustrade. He calls up to her, Hey, there. I'm Mike. Hot tonight, huh?

He's got a beer in his hand, and holds it up: These are cold, want one?

She says, Thanks, I don't think so, I've had a long day. How exposed she is, in that little terry robe.

He's already coming up, but has the courtesy to stop below her. It's all right, I won't bother you, he says. He presents her the beer: it's an unopened one, wet with bits of ice. He says, Come on down later, if you feel like it.

Why is he drawn to her? I think it must be her legs. In the glow from the parking lot lamps they look silvery like mine. She can't deny he's beautiful. She's seen him around. He's nice, and so confident, the way he high-stepped up to her. She shakes her hair back and says, All right, I wouldn't mind.

So that's the answer. I think I knew it all week in the windowsill. It's the only way to live.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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