The preschoolers scampered through the garden, clutching their butterfly nets and insect cages. The teacher pointed out the katydid marching up the daylily scape, the leaf cutter chomping through the Brandywines. Her long hair stuck to her neck, and her inner thighs chafed from sweat. She craved iced coffee, for the coldness, for something to shock her into feeling.
“Look Miss Nancy! Ladybugs!”
The children jostled around the sedum. Nancy moved slowly, trying not to wince. The ladybugs swarmed the waxy leaves, hundreds of them, coupling and uncoupling, falling to the ground. Paler colored beetles took flight. The males pursued, wrestling the females with their tiny legs. The pairs swirled down like maple seeds.
A small girl sobbed. “They’re fighting.”
Nancy stepped towards the child. Pain seared through her pelvis to her sitz bone, reminding her of last night, of Roger stumbling through the dark to bed, rousing her with his beery breath. He’d yanked down her panties and took her from behind, hard. When she cried, he thrust harder. She felt something in her backside crack and she rolled away. He slapped her cheek as he came all over her stomach. The welt stung almost as much as the single word he’d spat at her when he left.
Nancy stroked the crying girl’s hair, translucent in the sun, and considered whether to correct the girl. Fighting, mating. Everything seemed filmy. She touched the end of her sleeve to her eyes.