Nemesis, NoBloPoMo, Stories...

Nemesis… Chapter 3 (Day 3)

I wake today feeling rested for a change; I don’t even remember my dreams.  It happens sometimes, when they are commonplace or insignificant, and while I usually feel disappointed by that, I actually feel relieved today…

My morning routine progresses quite… well routinely, I guess, with no indecipherable omens or visits from Divine forces to report.  Even Shilo is acting like himself today, which gives me more comfort than anything else, I have to admit to myself.  “Perhaps the worst is over,” I dare to say aloud…

The only glitch so far is that Shilo didn’t get out of bed to come say good-bye to me today.  Usually he comes out when I have my last cigarette before work, then returns to bed when I actually leave.  But not today.  Still, that’s not so unusual, really, because there have been other days when he was too tired, or too lazy, to come see me on my way.  So I am not concerned by his behavior at all.

“I hope this trend continues,” I tell myself, “because I could certainly use a little ‘normal’ today.”

Standing on the porch, I soak up the perfection of this lovely fall day.  The sun is shining, and it is unusually warm for an early November day in western New York.  The birds are quite pleasant, acting according to their ways.  I note the male cardinal nearby, who lives somewhere in our yard with his wife, and my heart lifts to see he has retained that brilliant red mantle he wears so proudly through the summer days.  There are still leaves on most of the trees around, and our giant backyard maples are still mostly green; the only evidence that autumn is calling them to sleep is the shedding of their seeds…  “Yes, a perfect fall day in every way,” I acknowledge to myself…

It is then I notice a flash of color moving across the porch railing to my left.  I glance over and am delighted to discover…

“Oh look,” I say to no one in particular, “it’s a lady bug!  The Fey have come to visit me!”  They rarely do, it occurs to me, in spite of the fairy garden I put in this summer.  So seeing a lady bug now gives me hope that our visits will become more regular in time…

And though I know that there is no one there to hear me, I also know that it’s just one of those magical moments you  have to mark out loud…  “A lady bug in early November?  Isn’t it a little out of season for you, my dear?,” I ask the beetle, chuckling to myself, certain that she must have come intentionally to meet with me.  And it is then I notice her companion crawling around the pole, and suddenly, there are two bright spots of color to lift my spirits today…

“Maybe my luck is turning around,” I dare to hope aloud.  “Oh, wait, I see a third!”  I point it out as if there’s someone watching them with me…  And then I see a fourth.  And fifth.  All crawling along the rail…  “Oh, yes!,” I exclaim, with certainty this time, “that’s six!  My luck is definitely getting better by the second!”

I glance a little to my right and notice the lady bug crawling along the recycle bin, marking seven in total.  But before that fact fully registers, seven becomes eight, becomes nine.  Then a dozen, I realize, are all around the porch.  “Ok,” I step back a pace,”this might be getting a little out of hand now…”

One of the little buggers takes flight, flying directly toward my face, and I duck instinctively, no longer completely comfortable with the lady bugs around me.  As I turn my face away, I cannot help but notice that the clapboard siding on the house is now crawling with the little red bugs, and they no longer seem as delightful to me somehow.  In fact, I must admit, if I’m being honest with myself, that I find them quite threatening in numbers such as these.  And I am suddenly reminded that the fairies are often pranksters, or worse, for most legends of the fairy folk describe events detrimental to human beings…  No longer simple symbols of my childhood wishing games; a swarm of insects of any kind makes my skin crawl.  Naturally!…

Shaking my head nervously, I cannot help but shudder at the sight of all of them…  “Ugh!,” I think, “this isn’t so fun anymore.  Who knew that lady bugs could swarm?!”

It is time for me to go now, but in the moments that I’ve wasted watching them, the lady bugs have multiplied tenfold, at least.  And there is no way to my car, but to walk right through the center of them.  So I take a deep breath, grab hold of my courage, and hobble down the stairs and toward my car just as fast as I possibly can…  But my movement seems to have triggered something in the swarm, for they all seem to take flight just as I am limping through.  They are everywhere, these bugs – in my hair, on my clothes, in the very air I dare not breathe.  I cover my face and plunge ahead, terrified now by the swarm…

Somehow, I manage to make it to my car, and lock the doors.  I frantically rub my clothes and comb my fingers through my hair, trying to dislodge any stowaways.  But it appears they did not choose to enter the car with me at all.  As I sit there, trying to calm myself, I have to laugh a little, though this is not the same amused sound I’d heard from myself just moments before; rather this sounds suspiciously like hysteria setting in…

I breathe, deeply, slowly, deliberately, eyes closed now that I am safe…  “In through the nose,” starts my internal chant, “out through the mouth…”

“That’s it,” I encourage myself, after a few rounds, “just breathe…”  Gradually my heart rate returns to normal, my jumpiness settles down, and a fragile sense of equilibrium returns…

“Ok, that was totally creepy!,” I admit, validating my experience, and myself.  “You did not imagine that, I’m sure!”  This, even though there do not appear to be any lady bugs around now.  “Or did I?,” I risk asking my self out loud.

As if in answer, my eye is drawn toward a single lady bug inside my car, crawling along the passenger window.  I shudder at the sight of it, and reach immediately for the button that will roll the window down, so that the beetle can escape, for I certainly do not want to drive to work with that thing in my car.  And then I notice just one more, crawling on the outside of the window, and it occurs to me that it would be a very stupid idea to expose my sanctuary now.  “I’d rather drive with just the one inside, than risk letting the whole swarm come at me again!”

As I pull out of my driveway, late to work again, I notice that the one outside has found a way to hunker down and travel safely while I drive.  And I realize that she will be waiting for me when I finally arrive…

***     *****     ***

Much to my surprised relief, I am not bothered again by either one, for both have “disappeared” by the time I get to work.  And, as the normalcy of my work day progresses, I find the lady bugs drift further and farther away from my thoughts, until I no longer even remember the terror of my morning…

A peaceful evening leads to a pleasant night, with Shilo, myself and the dogs hanging out.  And finally, it’s bedtime, and I am looking forward to snuggling under my layers of blankets, feeling the warmth of my cat resting against my belly.  I reach up to let my bedroom shade down, and stop…

Just stop…

I stop breathing…

I stop thinking…

I stop feeling anything at all…

For crawling across my bedroom screen, outside (thank Goddess!) is a single lady bug!…

And, finally…

A single thought slides unbidden across my mind:

I guess there really can be “too much of a good thing”…

***     *****     ***

(to be continued)

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