M IS FOR MELISSOPHELIA

BY SUSANNAH BRESLIN

misforbigShe had a thing for insects. She had a lot of things for a lot of things, but what she really had a thing for was bugs. Men, in her life, had come and gone, but the insects stayed with her. She had wandered through her backyard as a young girl, collecting ladybugs, and fireflies, and crickets in glass jars. Late at night in her room, she watched while they glowed, and fought, and died. When she grew up, insects would appear to her at the strangest times. As she slept, they would arrive in droves, buzzing around her sleeping head. When she was lost on a road, a swarm would descend upon her, obliterating the world around her. While she was having sex, they flew out from within her, bees from her mouth, wasps from between her legs, and flies from her ears. The men, for their part, were not so persistent. At a certain point, she had realized, this was her fate. For her, in life, as it happened, insects were the only thing upon which she could depend. So, she found herself lying flat on a table, naked, most evenings. A large man crouched over her, tattooing a chaos of insects onto her body. Over time, a maze of bees droned quietly across her stomach. A winding parade of ants crawled up into the secrets of her armpits. A great praying mantis stood itself up along her backbone. When the man was almost finished, and the woman was entirely covered by his work, the two realized they were in love with one another. For years, the man lay next to the woman, watching the insects crawling the great expanse of her body, moving, and writhing, and shifting in the dark.