• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 06
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A Mouthful of Wasps

In the middle of an argument I wasn’t going to win and wasn’t going to concede ground in, I furiously spooned soup into my mouth, only because Anna once told me I spit when I talk too loud. Every point I made would project small gobs of soup at her face. For a hippy she could latch onto, and twist, every nasty point within reach. I was building up to throw some of my own at her.

I glanced down to see a wasp floating in my soup, its yellow and black body blending in with the oranges and browns of carrots and onions. I only noticed it on a double take. I didn’t know how long it had been there, but if I’d put the nasty wee fucker into my mouth that would have ended our argument. It hadn’t been served to me; there were a lot of wasps about this time of year, drunk and dying off, more of them crawling than flying.

The wasp lay on the surface of the soup, still twitching, but its wings were too sticky to fly. I’d been stung once as a kid. My mum rubbed camomile lotion on my arm until black gunk poured out of the sting hole. She said that was the venom neutralising, but the sight of it upset me more than the pain. The black gunk was the part that stayed with me most, that made me run like mad from wasps for years. I remember the sting felt like I was being stabbed with a needle, one that was drove deeper and scraped around in the wound each time, but I know that was because it was a childhood memory, when I was smaller and everything else seemed intensified, when I was less trained in dealing with pain.

Looking closer, I noticed there were actually two wasps, locked together – fighting or fucking – I don’t know how wasps mate. Whatever they’d been up to wasn’t important; they wouldn’t get to finish it.

Anna realised I wasn’t listening. ‘There’s a wasp in your soup!’ she said, following my line of sight. She was great at stating the obvious, as if I’d just been staring intently at my plain bowl of vegetable soup.


A Mouthful of Wasps

I placed my spoon on top of the wasps and submerged them. Then I scooped them out with a flick of my spoon, dumping their drowned bodies and a splash of soup into my empty water glass.

‘No,’ I said, pushing the bowl away from me. ‘There were two.’ ‘That was cruel,’ she said, looking at me with a disappointed face, as if I’d made a spectacle of killing the wasps to offend her hippy sensibilities. Really, I’d put them out of their misery. It had been a kindness. Though, in truth, even if they could have flown away I wouldn’t have let them, in case they’d attacked me.