are you sat there crying again? my
parents would turn to me and ask. It was the eighties and I was four
or five, sat watching the dreaded programmes involving
animals. Lassie, Littlest Hobo, Benji, etc, or even my Dad's
avid watching of animal documentaries, would just set me off into
floods of tears even though nothing terrible had happened to
the animals! Anything with animals would worry me that they were
going to get hurt or get lost. I'd feel that all too familiar lump
forming in my throat and before I knew it, the tears would be falling
and I'd end up with a snotty nose. My family never understood why I
got like this. And, to be honest, neither did I.
with all this compassion, there was one dark secret I held. My
curiosity of minibeasts and their features turned me into a
mega-monster...a mega-beast! I meant no harm of course, but I
couldn't resist exploring 'What would happen
if...?' scenarios. In one foul swoop, I went from
Jekyll to Mr Hyde and vice versa. I would carry out my experiments
with excitement, but that then deteriorated into mortification and
tears. At the age of four or five, I hadn't yet grasped the concept
of life and death and couldn't understand how my actions lead to the
death of such tiny animals.
can recall many scenarios of these experimentations and their
outcomes. As an adult, I'm horrified at the sadistic nature with
which I carried these out!
fascination of a large beetle that had toppled over onto its back on
a park path, as my brother (who was a year younger) tried to make it
move faster using a stick. We'd giggled watching its legs wiggling
about, before I felt sorry for it and decided to use a stick to try
and get it back on its feet again and leave it to go off on its merry
way. But disaster struck. In my hastened act of trying to get the
beetle back on its feet again, I'd accidently squashed its stomach
with the stick and looked on in sheer horror as this gooey
exploded out of it! I'd dropped the stick and ran. The one lesson I'd
learnt that day was to never poke an animal's soft stomach with a
home crying to my parents about the whole horrific experience led to
a conversation about which minibeasts had hard shells to protect
their outer bodies. So, of course, I'd thought that playing with a
ladybird as carefully as I could would lead to no harm as long as I
didn't cause it to roll on its back. The ladybird (which I discovered
on the same park path as the beetle (RIP) fascinated me with its
bright, scarlet shell and bold black dots. To me it looked so
beautiful and yet so strong and powerful with its glossy colour. Its
shiny shell had enticed my finger to feel and stroke it.
low and behold, disaster had struck yet again! I got myself into a
tantrum as the ladybird tried to scuttle away out of my reach and in
a bid to stop it getting away so I could have the pleasure of feeling
it's shell, I'd pressed too hard. Crack followed by a
piercing scream, that led my parents to come running over thinking
I'd been seriously hurt. It was that day in the midst of my
never-ending floods of tears, that I'd decided to steer clear of any
animals with hard shells.
beautiful appearance of certain minibeasts, like the ladybird, always
attracted me. One of these was the butterfly. The wonderful array of
patterns and colours on the wings of different types of butterflies,
delighted me and they reminded me of the fairies I would read about
in my books. That's what I would call butterflies when I was little
fairies. Of course, I knew I would never meet a fairy unless I was
very lucky, but I was curious about the wings. I wanted to know what
they felt like. So, imagine my sheer joy stumbling across a butterfly
landing on a leaf in my garden and being able to cup it ever so
gently in my little hands.
butterfly fluttered for what might have seemed like an eternity to
the poor trapped soul but for me I wanted to keep it for ever.
Eventually it'd stopped moving and this was my chance to finally feel
the wing of a 'fairy' without it escaping from me - as I thought it
had gone to sleep. I loved the silky smoothness, followed by the
delicate baby-powder I'd felt on my fingertips. Despite trying my
best to be careful and gentle with this tiny creature as my parents
had taught me, somehow in my love and care, the sleeping butterfly's
wing had torn and crumbled. The pain I'd felt brought on the tears
my distraught memory of destroying an animal's limbs was soon
forgotten when a new boy started in my class infant school. Daniel
was his name and, like me, he was interested in minibeasts. He too
was a mega-beast like me and he'd led me into new explorations. One
of these were trying to catch daddy long-legs.
Long-Legs were pesky little creatures to try and catch. Daniel and I
would run and try and catch them. I was never successful but Daniel
was. I remember him catching one and pulled off one of its
big brother said it's ok because it can still move cos it's got lots
of other legs! I remember him saying to me as he
my lips beginning to tremble. You can hear it say
and then giggle! But I couldn't hear anything when
took off another leg to prove it to me. Daniel decided that I had to
do it myself to hear the daddy long-leg. So, I did. But the only
thing I thought I heard was a snap and then a scream (my scream of
course). That day, Daddy Long-Legs were added to my repertoire of
no-no's to play with, along with the butterfly.
didn't stop there with Daniel. There was one day when Daniel's big
brother was out on his bike with his mates looking for
girlfriends as I remember Daniel telling me. We'd
taken the opportunity of his absence to go into his bedroom and play
with the Meccano models he'd made and, in our explorations, we could
hear a faint buzzing sound. Like me, Daniel was terrified of bees,
which, we both agreed, reminded us of tiny, fat bulbous tigers with a
haunting buzz instead of a roar.
discovering this bee on Daniel's brother's pillow, he'd grabbed a can
of Old Spice body spray and started spraying the bee. We watched
fascinated as it bubbled up and foamed and went grey. We
it with a glass, terrified that it would get bigger as it seemed to
be doing at that moment in time. We realised later that it was the
froth of the spray that had made it look like it'd been expanding!
were another species I never meant to hurt. At the age of seven,
there was a tank with them for us to observe how they formed into
frogs. I loved the story of the princess and the frog tried
to kiss a tadpole once it carked it. I think this may have
been the beginning to my sadistic nature with minibeasts
didn't mean any harm was just curious that was all!
ants got away with it. They would never face my innocent, sadistic
behaviour. I always avoided stepping on ants. They so busy and
pre-occupied, I left them to it, just sitting on the concrete to
observe their speed. Tons of them! Crowds of them! Ants seemed to be
doing things. Busy, busy, busy.
didn't like flying ants though.
years later, I am the owner of four cats, 2 dragon lizards and a
hamster. But I still fear the minibeasts which are
mega-beasts to me!! The very small creatures that I had tormented to
their death (not intentionally only quizzically), are now the
ones I run away from and scream if they come near me. I fear them.
And I fear that one day they may gather the strength to rip my limbs
off or squash me or kiss me!
spends her day preparing and serving food to satisfy hungry college
students and lecturers. By night, she feeds her own hunger for
crime-fiction, researching true-life crimes and the psychology behind
them, using it to inspire her own fiction. Irene is currently taking
forever to work on her first psychological crime thriller: The
Ticking Time Bomb.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
story by Irene
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher