Sleeping with the Beetles


No. I didn´t, did I? I must be imagining it.

As my eyes struggle to adjust to the daylight penetrating the thin outer shell of our tent, my body tenses. It was happening again.

I tell myself that it´s not possible. My overactive imagination, after last night’s experience, is playing games with me.

I roll over and try to hang on to the last lovely remains of my slumbered state. It happens again. This time I cannot ignore it. I nudge my husband and tell him that my pillow, in fact my whole bed is moving.

“Sure it is” he grumbles and rolls to the edge of the airbed on which we are sleeping.

I start to itch, nervously. I run my fingers through my hair, checking that none of last night’s invaders managed to spend the night entangled there.

It happens again.

My husband rolls over and looks at me with a sleepy but, “ok, maybe you´re right” look in his eye. Now I´m scared. Not a terrified kind of scared. More the fear that involves that panic attack feeling, the fear that stops the oxygen flowing through your lungs, the fear that makes your limbs tingle in anticipation, the fear that heightens as you know you are going to have to face one of your phobias.

I try to block out the noises and memories of previous night. After all, it was only the sound of, what seemed like, hundreds of flying beetles, hitting the side of the tent as we cooked our evening barbeque. I was strong. I was brave. I took my husband’s advice and sat in the light by the flames, they were less likely to come near me there. Or so he said. Then one landed on me. I screamed. I jumped up and asked my husband to flick it off. I couldn’t touch it. I was close to hysteria but I composed myself. I sat down.

Then it happened. Possibly the worst thing I could have imagined, at that moment in time. One landed in my hair. Not only did it land in my hair, it entangled itself in my hair. The more I jiggled and screamed, as quietly as I possibly could, the more it squirmed and the more it touched my ear. The memories make me shudder.

Luckily for me, my husband is a very calm and patient man. I am yet to see him scared. Or should I say, I am yet to see him express his fear. He managed to calm me and convince me that the tent was safe. It is one of those twin skinned, sealed units. No way for invaders to get in, unless they open the main zip.

Despite the ensuing invasion, which appeared to me as holocaust, but was later declared by local papers as merely a plague, I managed to sleep. Until now.

As calmly as I can, in my panic induced state, I throw on the nearest clothing I find and swiftly take the largest step I can, from the tent entrance into the outside world. Without looking down, I walk away to a place I consider to be safe.

Although afraid, I cannot curtail my curiosity. I watch as my husband calmly packs away our belongings. As he is about to lift the floor of the tent, I approach him and face my fear.

For a split second, before I and they, flee to safety, I see a living carpet of big, black, wriggling and writhing beetles, all snuggled together, beneath my bed. A bed I vowed I wouldn’t sleep in again.



L Sadleir

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