In a tranquil hamlet, a delicate kiss of warmth expressed by the solar sylph, mellowed by a temperate breeze, offers the palliative whisper of hyacinth and sweet lilies. Tiny buds of a thornless rose bush hold the promise that, with their bloom, will come an elucidation of the world’s mysteries.
Claude Monet would weep while en plein air, in repose, sable brush hovering over his palette, overcome by the burst of blossoms. A century ago, when asked what hues he employed he responded- “The point is to know how to use the colors, the choice of which is, when all’s said and done, a matter of habit. Anyway, I use flake white, cadmium yellow, vermilion, deep madder, cobalt blue, emerald green, and that’s all.” He would require all that he named to recreate the rapture of this utopian microcosm, with its blissful prairies, the redolence of freshly scythed verdant fields, and a meadow where Bambi’s mother would never die.
The grinding reverberation of lawnmowers and edgers is absent… because I say so.
But I hear buzzing. A swarm of darkness whirs overhead, and a fiend pierces the unblemished skin on my shoulder. I shriek indiscreetly. I am their quarry. Adrenaline courses through my veins. Or maybe that’s venom. Either… or I flee. My feet pound earth as tears roll down my face. Their trill is lustier than before, and it seems they have taken up momentum, flying with the now blustering wind that impels my back.
Someone lets out a guttural bellowing wail, and I realize it’s me. Satan buzzes near my ear. My flowing sundress and sandals do not impede these hellions. I flip off my straw sun hat and swing my hair violently, unlike a shampoo commercial. I recover my chapeau, to use as a weapon, swinging it as I run, jump, dive, twirl, and flap my arms. (Twyla Tharp would have been proud.) The same asshole releases a piercing scream- yes, it’s still me.
By declining to submit to their unknown demands, I unwittingly force their anger to rise exponentially. Blindly I find my home, thrashing at my door, ringing the bell, roaring, “LET ME IN! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” I recall it’s unlocked, and let myself in as I am stung yet again. Bursting through the door was a mistake because several of these archangels are still with me.
My dogs couldn’t care less.
I slap at a self-propelled striped projectile and when it crashes to the floor, I am on it. If only my nemesis had a neck, I would have it in a headlock. Instead, I step on it, but my malnourished insignificance is not enough to crush the winged zombie. He is merely disoriented. I grab a tissue and snatch up El Diablo. Sprinting to the toilet, I slam the door behind me and pause to check my appearance in the mirror because paramedics, as a rule, are hot and who knows how this will end. I flush lucifer.
My fight-or-flight instinct has given me pain amnesia, which is good because there is no time to triage myself. My personalities now disordered will eventually be grouped by pain. (I don’t know what that means either.) My neck and arm have nearly incapacitated me, but I am nothing if not a fighter. I get low as I gently open the door to exit the restroom, throwing myself at the stairs. I must show no fear, but I need to arm myself for battle.
If my ears do not betray me, I hear a scream and conclude the pernicious savages have redirected their fury toward my 87-year-old mother. Time is of the essence.
I enter no-man’s-land, my offspring’s deserted bedroom. She lives in Brooklyn, but half of her stuff will always be on the floor in her bedroom because that’s how she left it. I step on something that snaps (oopsie) and I stumble on what I was searching for. Under a clothes salad, I locate my previously purloined vintage Doc Martins, slide them on and snag a tennis racket on my way out. I resolve against exploring the attic for a superhero cape because you know, the old lady. I must find the flushed fiend’s friends.
Descending the stairs I look at her inflamed wrist and on the floor near her chair, I meet a writhing black and yellow striped Beelzebub. The thought bubble over my head wonders- ‘swords or pistols?’ I can see hate in his eyes. I grab the incapacitated one in tissue again and try to lob the last knave with the tennis racket. Now I wish I had done more with the high school tennis team than show up on picture day. It takes several clumsy swats, but I manage to overpower the last one.
Speaking of pictures, this time I take a picture of the monster, to have his likeness engraved on my tombstone, and also to research what fresh Hell this is. Toilet lid slammed, flush. I regain my composure and check on mum. We compare wounds, like on ‘Jaws’ and sing ‘Show Me the Way to Go Home.’
As per the internet: The villains are yellowjacket wasps. Each one is capable of stinging multiple times. My nightmare is reality because when one stings, it releases a pheromone that attracts more wasps to the area to help them get rid of the threat. That’s me! They remember faces and hold grudges. I may never leave my house again.
To be continued…