In the Mouths of Insects

by Shelly Wass

So long, world.

I can see the sky from where I lay. The moss is making its lifelong and arduous climb up the trunks of the trees around me. I must be on my back. I can feel the earth moving under my right arm, stretched out at a right angle. My other arm is twisted under my head, cushioning. What are my legs doing? They, too, are out of shape. One bent with my foot almost touching my thigh. The other stretched straight, ankle wrong. I think it is broken. But I can’t feel it. All I feel is the movement under my right arm. Must be the worms.

I fear the worms the most. They attack unmercifully. They will nibble and gnaw until I am no more. So long, world.

I remember the fall. Head over heals and arms circling like pinwheels as I somersaulted my way to this place. There was a gentle push and then this.

What beautiful trees. Everything is so green. There is a rectangular opening and then there is sky. Wisps of cloud float by. I don’t think it will rain today. I don’t try to move. When the sun is above me I don’t think I will shade my eyes. I will remain, misshapen and bent until the worms come. I will go softly long before they come. So long.

My husband must be putting up posters. I imagine the house is full of relatives all willing to help search. He always told me to lock the door. He always told me that the Pacific Northwest had the highest number of serial killers because it is so easy to hide a body in the overgrown forest surrounding our city. We joked about these things. We laughed because those things were so foreign. We laughed because we knew one day I would be here with the sky stretched before me, after a long, treacherous fall and that the worms were standing at attention, ready to feast.

My keys, I think, are all that’s left of me in that world. They sat lonely on the ground next to the spot I was taken. I remember the sound of a car, the opening of the door, the shoving, me kicking and now this. I dropped my keys. Not on purpose, but from the shear force of the shove that landed me in the car that brought me to my resting place here in the woods.

That man was cruel. Cruel like a blizzard in March. Yes, cruel like unpredictable weather. There was something innately unnatural and callous. Like a storm he scooped me up, threw me around and pushed me over the edge when he was done with me.

“We were meant to be here together,” he said. He stank of cigarettes and desperation.

We sat huddled in the back of his car, parked at the top of a lonely hill. I protected my body by holding my legs to my chest with my duct-taped hands. He stroked my arm and the hair rose in defiance. The tape on my mouth restricted the breath coming in through my nose. If I could speak I would tell him about my dog. My dog and my family. I have people who love me and will miss me. I know this is my final connection with any human being. I know this. But I would plead if I could.

“I’ve been watching you,” he slobbered in my ear and he lifted my arms from around my legs. “I know what you like. You sit on your balcony and drink coffee. Do you remember the last time you did this? Do you know it was the last time you will do that?”

I sat, wide-eyed and silent. The only sound was the sound of my labored breath. If he had been watching me he would know I was loved. In my mind I thought of the scenes that unfolded in my home that anyone with a good eye and patience could witness. My windows were always open as though inviting people to observe my life from a distance. I thought of every move I made in my house. I thought of the times I had taken the dog for a walk at night. I thought of the little things. Making macaroni and cheese beside the kitchen window. I thought of my husband. We were not alone when he held me on the couch in front of the television. He walked by me as I sat, reading, on the bean bag chair. He would kiss me on the forehead as he walked by. Nothing we did was ours. Nothing we did was just for us. We were always watched, I thought.

I thought of my wedding night as the man slid my jeans down my awkward legs. The car was cramped. I thought of my wedding night and the rose petals and candles that my husband’s sister had decorated the room with before we arrived. We ate pizza on the floor and slept maybe an hour that night. I thought of gentle caresses compared to the rough touch of this awful man. I closed my eyes and thought of my husband as my head rhythmically hit the window of the car. I knew it would bruise and I knew it didn’t matter. The bruising would have no time to heal before nature carried me away piece by piece in the jaws of beetles and ants.

A small blue bird plunged from the tree on the left to the tree on the right with such precision. Nature is methodical. Nature is our nemesis. We return to it just as we are born to it. No one is exempt from its furry and rage. No one will die any more gracefully than I.

I think he gave me a choice. My hands were untied before the fateful plunge. Maybe he knew it would hurt more to have more limbs ready to break. Maybe he thought I could climb out. Either way, I can’t move. I have grown into the ground already.

All I have to do is close my eyes. I won’t have to see the beauty of the world that is about to consume me. I can close my eyes and think of my family, of the joy I experienced in the minutiae of life. If my arms and legs could move I would try to climb. But they can’t and I won’t. So, so long, world. I give myself back to you.