When I was a kid, my neighbor told me that it was illegal to kill a praying mantis. I was scared of all bugs at the time. I had nightmares that my bed was full of spiders and other creepy things. I would wake up screaming and kicking at my sheets. The praying mantis was the biggest bug I had ever seen, which made it particularly scary. Besides, I had heard things about the murderous way they have sex. I never thought they looked like they were praying. I always thought they looked like they were rubbing their palms together in the fashion of a mad billionaire super villain. “Plotting mantis” was more fitting. But I’d heard you simply could not kill them. It was against the law. You would go to jail.
There was one in my neighborhood when I was around eleven. I first saw her on my window sill. She was looking in at me on my bed, snuggled up with my stuffed animals (who were all mammals). I wanted to shut the blinds but I was petrified, afraid to approach her even with a pane of glass between us. I hid beneath my animals instead.
The next time I saw her, she was sitting on the curb cut where I liked to skateboard. Then I saw her on the tree we used as base in hide & go seek tag. And on the playground. She knew all my haunts. She was following me. Each time I saw her, my toes curled up in my sneakers. I would just turn and walk away. What else could I do? Fighting her was illegal.
(to be continued…)