The Bug By: Bridget Bunch 66 The girl stumbles from the house; she knows the motor car is coming. I felt the vibrating too, even before she did. I can hear everything now because of the emptiness that lies across her family’s land ever since her brother left and her parents went away. The girl slowly makes her way across the tall brown grass and dirt pathway to the front gate. She passes the withered corn, beans, and squash that huddle together in front of her house, but she stops when she comes to the lone sunflower that brings her peace at times like this. Brown and dying, it slants its head for the few scattered rays of the midday sun that pushes though the clouds. It is told that her people grew sunflowers because of the healing touch they have on the soul and body. There has been little healing for her. She hovers over it and me. Deftly plucking a seed from the center, she sticks it in her pocket. She silently moves her mouth and looks up with her eyes to the gray sky. Her breathing slows as she caresses the petals with a finger, but a smile doesn’t play on her lips like it normally does. I am jolted from the trance and capsized like a little boat in a dry river bed by the violent vibrating. Her eyes become serious, and she slowly straightens. She leaves the sunflower, moving toward the vroom, vroom, vroom, and I climb the stalk to make it sway. May it be humming, dancing, praying; anything to give comfort to the girl. She doesn’t see it. I crawl down and scurry closer. By the time I get close enough to see, two men in green suits are there with the girl. I notice how truly different she looks from the two men; although she is called a savage and is broken and withered in their presence, she is more human and beautiful than they are. One of the men has a calm face and talks to her, his hat in his hand. The other is in a dignified stance and stands by the door of the motor car; his hand is tight in a fist, relaxes, and then tightens. The girl catches my eye as she crumples to her knees, disappearing in the prairie grass. The two men bow in succession and turn towards the car, but the one who stands by the door pauses in mid-step and looks at the girl. He puts on his hat then swiftly gets into the car and drives off. I go closer to see, and the girl alone once again, holds her head in her hands and makes the same noise she has made every night since the boy left the same way those men did. Or, so I’ve heard. She sways like the sunflower, but this is different. There is no intentional comfort, because no one is here to give it. Her long, dark hair sweeps the ground, and I stay to give the comfort she needs. However, my comfort is unobserved, and distant, but I’m here. She finally moves, but not to get up. She begins to dig at the earth, at first slowly, then with passion. When she is finally satisfied with her little hole, she puts her hand in her pocket and pulls out the sunflower seed. She kisses the seed, moves her lips and drops the seed into the hole. Once covering it up, she slowly rises and walks toward the house. Coming out onto the pathway I see her standing and looking at the big sky once more, I do too, and what I see surprises me. I don’t see the gray that forever stretches above the land, but I see a dark mass that is taking over the sky. Does she smile? A tear rolls down her face as rumbling rolls from above. Or was that her laugh? She runs with light feet to the house, opens the door, halts and turns around one last time. Her face is new and is filled with a white smile that lights up her dark skin and eyes. She closes the door knowing her prayer is finally answered. The sky cries for the boy, because out of the dryness will come something beautiful; maybe, something like a sunflower.
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