At the edge of hearing, a droning sound emanated from the kitchen. Looking up revealed the largest, darkest wasp she had ever seen. Her lips pressed together in a firm line. Her husband was allergic to bee stings, and while wasps and bees were different animals, his reactions suggested they were close enough to be worrisome.
The wasp flew at a stately pace, bumbling into the two-foot wall that extended down from the ceiling. It flew into the obstruction multiple times, which she had seen flies do, but when the occasional wasp did fly in through their back door, they were jet planes, zooming here and there and never seeming to hit anything.
This wasp was odd.
Her son watched the wasp from the couch, obviously worried that it might fly near him. It stayed up towards the ceiling, so she wasn’t as concerned, but this was its second strike, it had to leave or she would have to take matters into her own hands.
The wasp droned and buzzed its way around the living room, as though giving the place a thorough inspection. It bounced into several more obstructions along the way. A door, the movie rack, the modem.
It found the window almost by accident. She had been looking for the errant flyswatter (no one put it back where it belonged) and had her implement in hand. She paused. Feeling unexpected pity for the wasp, she opened the window and decided to herd the wasp with the flyswatter rather than smash it. This was a task more difficult than first thought; the wasp could not seem to be cajoled to move toward the open window, and she feared smashing it in her enthusiasm to escort it outside.
She sat down in the chair next to the window and watched the wasp. It was shaking. Coated in a fine, fuzzy film from the dust lingering in her windowsill, the black carapace of its back was no longer quite so shiny and cold. It almost looked friendlier. The wide, triangular eyes were as unreadable as any insect’s, but there was something about the movement of its body and the weakening attempts to fly that made her realize the wasp was dying.
In that moment, she wanted nothing more than to help the wasp. She wanted it outside, she wanted it to fly away. It did not matter that she considered its death five minutes ago. The wasp was dying, and needed help.
As she watched, the wasp’s movements stilled, and its legs drew up underneath it. It’s abdomen, black and fuzzy with dust, curled up and moved no more.
Dead on her windowsill.
She still had the flyswatter in her hand. She put it down, (not back where it belonged,) and tried to understand what she felt. Guilty, sad, disappointed emotions, and in the back of her mind, she was glad she didn’t have to kill it.
She left the wasp where it lay, curled in the dust.