This post is an attempt to reenact an essay written by the famous author Annie Dillard. Her essay, Living Like Weasels, expounds upon the beauty and mystery of the wild and creatures of the wild.
You should really read her essay before reading mine. Otherwise you might be tempted to think my essay is only merely amusing without understanding the true depths of hilarity it reaches.
A scorpion is wild. Who knows what he thinks? Who cares what he thinks? Not me. Nope. Not one bit.
I have been thinking about scorpions because I live in the desert, where dwell these hard-cased creatures from hell. I killed a scorpion who tried to kill me, and we exchanged a hateful battle of wills.
I live in a bucolic hunting cabin on the outskirts of nowhere, tucked among stark red canyons. The cabin is small with whitewashed walls, sloping ceilings and slanted windows through which the intrusive desert suns peeks. Beside my cabin runs Beaver creek. A thin ripple of water which glides westward and attracts all manner of horrid beasts, being that it is the only drop of moisture for miles.
One evening last week, well after sunset, I was brushing my teeth in the quiet calm of my own solitary company. One might say I was minding my own business. One might say I was doing no harm to any living soul and peacefully respecting the wild by leaving it to its own devices beyond my locked door. I flossed and brushed and gazed into the cracked walls of my bathroom, thinking of blissful sleep. My bathroom door was open to the living room and a dark, frenzied movement on the far wall caught my eye. I swiveled around—and the next instant, dreadfully, I was looking up at a scorpion, who was looking down at me.
Scorpion! Oh vile brute of the underworld. I had hoped to never see one wild. He was six inches long; his exoskeleton-armor crackling in pre-battle prep. His dark body roaming eerily across my wall, tail twitching, hinting towards a curve as if to frighten me. Ha! Fool! I was well beyond frightened. I was terrified, distraught, and panicked.
Our eyes locked, and someone threw away the padlock (to hell. Hell was opened)
We simultaneously leapt into action. I, to my aerosol spray can of “kills-on-contact” scorpion poison; he to his aggressive scuttling and clacking, tail in full bend towards me. I began to spray with a looseness of a sailor’s tongue after too much rum. Poison flew unhindered across every inch of the apartment. The scorpion darted higher up the wall, his vertical prowess stymieing my short arms. His strategy forced me onto the coffee table which brought me into his range if, in true martyr fashion, he chose to jump.
He did not and I retreated back to the bathroom to devise a new stratagem being that the can’s spray could no longer reach the demon. I needed him, vomit, closer. There was a broom in the far corner that could be used… Once concocted, my plan and I burst forth into the living room to discover the scorpion gone. The wall was empty and my brain void of thoughts beyond terror. A scorpion is a terrible demon to see but worse, much worse, to lose sight of.
Snatching my black-light flashlight (shout out to the world’s best gift from the world’s best husband) and sweeping its glow across the floor I once again caught sight of my enemy. His fierce brown body was now revealed as luminescent green and the battle raged once more. Back and forth we danced; unloving partners, as I leaned forward to spray and he arched his weapon in anticipation of one wrong step. His vindictive pleasure grew in equal measure to my frustration at his unwillingness to die. Finally, soaked in poison, he fled.
He disappeared beneath the overstuffed couch. I disappeared into my bedroom, locking the door like an imbecile before wrapping myself in the silky folds of my hammock’s bug net. I can’t recall sleeping that night. Each moment brought new terrors of ghost-scorpions crawling my leg, stinging my flesh. In fact, I have not slept since that fateful encounter. I think I died alongside that cursed scorpion.
I would love to learn, or remember, how to live.
Rebekah (’12) teaches English as a second language at Grand Rapids Community College. She does not drink coffee nor purchase Apple products.