In The Garden

I’ve always loved the beetles in my garden. They scuttle within their own universe between the lawn and the flowerbed borders  with their gleaming black wing-cases and tiny thread legs, moving too rapidly for me to get a fix on. I followed a beetle last Sunday as he ran up the wall, and a filmy wingtip protruded from his back where he was constantly about to spread both wings.

I pounced at the wall, not to catch him but only to watch, and locked eyes with my next-door neighbour: wary, lined face; floppy apron a little askew; grey bun with wisps of hair escaping around her ears.

“It’s all right, I’m only looking at that beetle,” I said.

She digested this information, her expression gradually changing to one of resignation.

“Do you often watch insects?”

“Oh, yes, when I’m out here. I love them.” I realized I must sound like some kind of nutty biologist.

“All I want is to get rid of mine,” she said. “As soon as I see one I spray the insect killer.”

This was clearly what she had been doing, for as my shiny beetle crossed over the top of the wall and ran down her side of the wall he fell off it, dead. I said no more and returned to my comfortable garden chair.

That night I dreamed a beetle ate her.





Chalices And Cups

chaliceEvery teacup in the little china shop was a chalice. Those priestesses who had not acquired a chalice by inheritance came in and bought a fluted blue cup or an ornate wine glass to use instead. Then they took them up to the temple on the hill and filled them with hot red wine or berry juices to offer to their goddesses.

Avrilla who worked behind the counter at the china shop thought of herself as a closet priestess, aiding them as she was in their devotions. Her role was every bit as important as theirs, and one day she decided to lead the worship. She climbed up the hill to the temple carrying the most valuable of her cups made of a rare and fragile aquamarine bone china, and she filled it with sparkling wine.

The priest who was in charge of all the priestesses came out from the back of the temple. “Here we believe in a priestly caste, and items of a high monetary value do not raise you into it,” he said.

Avrilla produced a stick and waved it in the air, as if about to smash the many chalices on the altar. Everyone gasped.

Then she lowered the stick and said, “no, I won’t do it- I’ll just close my shop, and in time that will close the temple.”