The Apple

I was running late for work—and by late, I mean I left my house closer to 4:15 than 4:00AM.

As usual, I hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before, but caffeine was already infiltrating my system, and I had an apple in my left hand—first breakfast.

Like so many mornings before, I dabbed the juice from my chin with the back of my sleeve, enjoying the crisp sound and taste of the first bite. It was the perfect driving snack. No trash, no crumbs, and though the juice was sometimes a little sticky, it wiped away easily enough.

I admit, I was rushing. I may even have been speeding that morning, though I would never admit to it. It was too dark to read the speed limit signs anyway.

But, apparently, my level of hurrying could not keep pace with that of the truck behind me.

I frowned and squinted at the light beaming into my car through the rear window. I could see two large headlights behind me, looming like the eyes of a giant feline ready to pounce.

Not one to be easily intimidated, I maintained my relatively reasonable speed, and took another bite of my apple, now illuminated by the headlights behind me.

I paused mid-chew.

What was that dark area I had seen?

It was the seeds. Yeah, it was the apple core. The seeds…it was the…please God let it be the seeds…did that last bite taste a little bitter?

It was dark again.

I swallowed almost against my will.

Just the seeds.

The truck aggressively pushed closer to my rear bumper again, and, half scared to even look, I glanced down at my once more illuminated apple.

It was a dead maggot.

Yes, that’s right. There was a dead maggot in the middle of this apple I had just bitten into. Was it a whole maggot or had I eaten part of it?

I didn’t want to know.

The cold morning air hit my face as I chucked first breakfast out my window, and tried to suppress the gag that was attempting to eject potential maggot parts from my stomach—only because there was no place to pull over.

It was a pretty harrowing experience, one I am unlikely to forget.

But in the end, I learned to be grateful for impatient truck drivers, something I never would have expected otherwise.

I also learned to inspect my fruit before leaving the house.

Apple Maggot

(C) 2022 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.

The Golden Scarab

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with insects. Beetles, in particular–jewel beetles.

Like so many others (or…you know, at least some others) I was enraptured by their brightly colored metallic exoskeletons. I couldn’t think of anything more beautiful.

I had this dream of becoming a beetle hunter someday. I planned to travel to the Amazon rainforest to collect rare specimens (got the idea from a National Geographic) and sell them to collectors for a high price.

That dream didn’t exactly pan out.

Instead, the only beetles I possessed were those I purchased off the internet from faraway places, and the closest I got to any kind of jungle was the pile of laundry I was sorting through–filled with its own unique colors and smells.

Boys.

Speaking of which…where were they?

Knowing better than to let my toddlers roam free throughout the house, I dropped the clothes in my hand and rushed down the stairs.

Ah, there they were. Playing with cars in the living room.

“Don’t worry mommy,” my three-year-old said, “I killed it!”

“Killed what, sweetie?” I asked with a half-smile, watching as he aggressively smashed something with a toy car.

“The bug!”

That’s when I noticed it.

There was a blank space on the wall where a frame had previously hung.

“Wait!” I cried out.

But it was too late.

By the time I reached my son, all that was left of my $50 Golden Scarab from Costa Rica was a pile of broken bits and a single golden wing.

My son was so proud.

Crushed Golden Scarab

(C) 2022 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.