Thursday, 23 September 2021

F Fic, Non-fic

The Lovebug

by Kylah Kerry


I woke up to a quiet apartment one day last July and after a moment of deafening silence, I decided to walk down to the pool. The pool and its large deck were empty, but I figured it was better than the house. I swatted the bugs away and sat in the corner, fixing my chair toward the sun. Staring at the blazing sun through my orange eyelids, I convinced myself I was giving the day relevance: I would lay there for a while and get a nice tan, while making myself hot enough to make the water feel ten times as refreshing when I would jump in. I grew annoyed as I had to swat away the millionth pair of lovebugs that landed on me. I sat up and shielded my eyes from the sun, letting them adjust to the faded world around me.

The lovebugs were everywhere this time of the year, busier than the birds and the bees, as each pair flew butt-to-butt with their mate. They were on chairs, tables, flying through the air, and landing all over my chair. I got up, walked to the shallow end of the pool and carefully stepped down, feeling a wonderful coolness with each step. I walked around, aimlessly swaying back and forth through the water for a while. After a few minutes, the sun scorching my shoulders and the tease of the cool water induced me to dive under without second thought to chicken out. The sudden temperature change gave me a brief shock but instantly transformed into a momentary bliss and relief. I was submerged in an unknown world, a totally foreign atmosphere. I thought that must be how it feels to die: slightly uncomfortable and different at first, but relieving. Light and weightless. Quiet.

I came up for air and began wading around, feeling ten times better than I did moments ago. There's something about water that does that to a person. I once read about a condition called Angelman syndrome, named from the cheerful, angel-like demeanor of its victims, and one of the main symptoms of the disease is a deep obsession with water. I thought the water definitely had something to do with their constant happiness. Even in society it seems that water is always a main attraction or gathering place for people, whether it's a pool, beach, or a man-made water fountain to sit next to. It didn't seem like an odd symptom at all, and maybe more people have it than realized. I dove underwater again, spinning and flailing around, getting as much pleasure out of it as I could. It was so refreshing and beautifully clear that I wished I could drink it. It made me think of when I was little and my dad told me that too much fast food, too much of any good thing can kill you, even water. I didn't know if that meant if somebody willfully attempted to drink too much water their stomach would explode, or if somebody could just drown in too much water. Either death would be terrible, I thought.

I floated onto my back and shut my eyes from the blaring sun. A strong, cool breeze came and I imagined being in the ocean. Floating in the ancient sea. The same sea that every body of water leads to. So huge, so endless. The same endless sea they once thought was flat. The sea that Christopher Columbus, the pilgrims and the Mayflower, and the African slave ships sailed. The same sea sailed by ships full of goods, and pirates out to steal them. And the bones of those pirate-slaughtered seamen at the bottom of this sea. Along with the bones of the thousands of diseased slaves that were thrown overboard from the ships, and those who jumped on their own. And the bones of the Athenians when defeated by the Spartans, and the bones of the entire Spanish Armada. The casualty of World War I, World War II, and countless other wars. The passengers of the Titanic, mothers and children. Millions of Hebrew babies, spewed from the mouth of the Nile. The millions who accidentally drowned in the sea, and those lost and never found. Amelia Earhart, maybe even Natalee Holloway. Those buried-at-sea. Neil Armstrong, Alfred Hitchcock, John F. Kennedy. Even Osama Bin Laden. Bones upon bones upon bones. The billions and billions that existed before me, never mattering who they were or what they did. Villain, hero, king, peasant, famous, or common, they were all equal victims of the dishonorable sea, resting in cold muck and grime.

I noticed it was too quiet, as I had been floating still with my ears under water for some time. I jumped onto my feet, wet my face with water and began wading around the edge of the pool, trying to think of what to do once I got back home. I began catching the sporadically floating leaves and tossing them onto the deck. It could be my good deed for the day.

I got toward the middle of the pool and spotted a lovebug making an unsuccessful attempt to escape. Even though it was alone, I could tell it was a lovebug by the black wings and tiny red body. I got closer and slowly cupped the water beneath him, walked to the edge and released the water onto the concrete. The bug floated away in it. Before I had time to change my mind and continue swimming, I carefully scooped him onto a fingernail and set him on dry cement. I waited a minute for him to fly off, as I’d seen wet wasps do, but he only struggled to adjust his wings. They were stuck from the water, so I slowly lifted myself out of the pool and laid my torso on the hot concrete, getting a closer look at him. I slid my pinky nail between his thin, paper-like wings, carefully separating them.

I continued waiting for what seemed like forever on the hot pavement as he rubbed his wings together, drying them and preparing for takeoff. I thought of how weird I probably looked to the guy and his son who had just arrived and sat on the opposite side of the pool, with my face near the concrete and poking at some tiny object. I wanted to get up, especially because there were a million other identical bugs flying around me. Ones smart enough to stay out of the pool. It wasn't like he'd be missed. He didn’t even have a partner when I found him.

I started thinking he was going to die until the abrupt buzz of his takeoff made my heart jump, as he flew directly into the small puddle my bathing suit created. I frantically retrieved him from the puddle and quickly began the process of separating his wings again, slightly blowing, to dry him as I did so. His wings dried within minutes and he looked normal again. I just had to wait once more for him to decide his wings were ready to fly with.

My back began to burn as I waited. I noticed he was beginning to move slowly, so I put my head above him to block the sun. But it was too late. After a few moments he stopped moving. I touched him to get a response, but only the touch of my finger moved him.

I sat up, frustrated. It was like he flew straight into the puddle on purpose. Maybe he did. Maybe that's how he got in the pool in the first place. Maybe he did have a partner. She'd never find him now. Unless, she didn't even notice he was gone. With trillions of identical bugs flying around, how could she? How could anybody? He was indistinguishable. No one would ever know the pain he suffered in his last moments, or even know that those moments took place. No one cared for him, no one would miss him. Not one thing in the entire earth would even notice he was no longer there. Only me. But even alive, he could never acknowledge me or what I did for him, or the sadness I felt for him.

I wiped my eye as I embarrassedly hopped up, tossed the bug in the dirt, and dusted myself off. I walked back to my chair and lay down, looking up at the huge open sky, stretching from east to west, the sun now blinding me. I felt as small and lost as a specific drop of water in the ocean. Like the bug, so tiny and insignificant. I knew I would die one day too, joining the bug, those in the sea, and everyone that existed before me, in absolute nothingness. And the ancient sun would continue to blaze down on Earth and kill everything with its days like it had always done. The sun seemed to be the only truly permanent thing in life. Animals, plants, people, fashion, times, kingdoms, civilizations, and even moral standards, they all pass away. Stars, even planets die, but the sun always remains the same.

I mourned for the bug. I mourned for myself. I mourned for humanity and everything under the sun subject to the laws of time and death. Maybe if the sun died we could live longer. There would be no time. There would be no aging. There would be no death. Just eternity. Forever. But back to reality, I knew the earth needed the sun and everything that it does, or all would die regardless. So the sun would always be, therefore the curse of death too. Then I remembered a scripture my dad would quote:

“After those troubles, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”

The End

Kylah Kerry grew up in Elkhart, Indiana and studied creative writing at Florida State University. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida, where she works as a web content specialist and writes for her blog, Rebel With a Clause. Through her writing, she hopes to bring recognition to the love, powerand truth of Jesus Christ.

You can connect with Kylah at

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