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I was born on a bright sunny day, but in South America most days are sunny anyway. Really, I don’t think I can remember that day, but it was Mother who used to tell me about it. I have always felt this day must have been a very important day to her.

We lived in the country. On a hill with a beautiful view that stretched into infinity. Whatever was out there I do not know, I never ventured far. My childhood was great. I had several sisters and brothers so we joined in all sorts of games and regular meals were the only events that punctuated our careless existence. We were hunters and so Mother regularly disappeared to find fresh supplies of exquisite game.

As I grew older I had often considered our lonely existence. Mother was stern, little communicative, but kept order. When Mother spoke we all listened to the many words of wisdom she tried to drum into us. “Don’t talk to strangers! “ was one of her main themes – our law of survival. Rarely while teaching us she would mention Father, it appeared she knew him for just a while. Some shroud of mystery took him away from us long before we would be aware of our surroundings.

Time went by and some of my sisters and brothers disappeared. I missed them, but again Mother would not talk about it. She gazed into the distance and I am sure I saw her eyes glistening with tears. Later on I just guessed they must have been killed by some force never quite understood by me.

I grew stronger and more independent, but unlike my siblings I did little hunting and stayed close to our patch. My body was developing beautifully. I had strong arms which mesmerized me and I would admire their reflection whenever I was close to the nearby brook. Fate takes funny turns and sadly one day I found myself completely alone. Mother and my last brother went hunting and never came back. I lived a lonely existence. There was plenty of game around so I always had something to eat, but somehow I did wish for a companion, a friend, a somebody to share my thoughts and feelings.

After a while I think I became quite an expert on flowers and birds. I just could not take my eyes off the diverse colours. Sunsets were also my great fascination - in the tropics the change between day and night is so sudden that I tried to climb as high as possible to see the last ray of this beautiful orange ball - called sun.

At the turn of the year – that is when it all happened. At first I just felt I was being watched, later on I became convinced somebody was hiding between the shadows. Soon after that I found presents scattered all round where I lived. So we courted, but always at a distance. I was slowly falling in love, but it was just a deep unsaid feeling.

The day it all happened will always stay in my memory, that day everything around me shone with brighter colours than ever. He, my future husband came closer and closer. He was so well groomed and he had such a beautiful green outfit, I just could not take my eyes off him. In no time we held each other in our arms. I could hear him whispering “I love you”. My feelings surged, I was overpowered by something I could not understand. We gazed into each other’s eyes, time became eternity. I cannot say if it took seconds, minutes or hours, but it was the greatest experience I have ever know. Then suddenly something very strange happened, I took his head into my strong arms , I swiftly turned his head into a grotesque position, I heard him scream and he went limp.
I panicked! What happened? Equally suddenly my inner sense told me. I had inherited my mother’s murderous streak – I had just killed my lover and my would-be husband. It was too late, all I could do was to whisper into the wind: “ I love you too!”.

EPILOGUE : This is a story based on facts, its actors appear to be people, but they are not. They are well known insects namely the praying mantises, readily distinguished by their strong raptorial front legs which are used to catch other insects as prey. The female mantid usually eats the male immediately after or during mating, hence the story. Nature is beautiful, fascinating but cruel. As I am an entomologist these observations take my breath away.

Author Notes: The epilogue explains the story.
This story was published in 2001 in AES Bug Club.

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13 Jun, 2021
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