The Way It Is by Linda Simoni-Wastila

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.


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26 responses to “The Way It Is by Linda Simoni-Wastila

  1. guy

    Yikes. That was not a fun read — not that it should be.

    I like the link-up between the bugs and the humans. Well done.

    • guy

      I was wondering why you had chosen ladybugs and thought that they might reproduce through traumatic insemination. As it turns out, they don’t. It’s bedbugs that do. In the end, it doesn’t matter because Roger and bedbugs can have an effect without being present.

      • Guy, thanks so much for reading and your always amazingly insightful comments. Dunno why ladybugs — it’s just the way the story played out. Your last comment on Roger and bedbugs having a presence — yes, they linger in a most unpleasant way after they are gone. Peace…

  2. oh, so powerful. i was stunned by what you gave here, this is so exceptional.

  3. Gorgeous. Lovely. Marvelous job.

  4. wow what a juxtaposition of scene and emotion – your transition midway is powerful – this is a VERY strong piece of work linda

  5. So well done this one! Layers of meaning and questions…

  6. yowzah. this was tragic and wonderful. really spectacular. loved it.

  7. I would have corrected the girl, but understand her reservations. Wow.

  8. excellent story, linda. had to look up “katydid” that’s my only problem :-) but that aside, i found your weaving these two threads together, with the “secret garden” scene in the foreground and the scene at home providing a dark shadow, masterfully done.

  9. Al McDermid

    I knew something must be coming but I still wasn’t ready for it. And even with the brutality limited to that one stunning paragraph, the entire piece is rather discomforting, reminding me of that under the skin crawling feeling I get when I eat to much salt. Very powerful.

  10. I am stunned by your powerful piece this week. My breathing stopped when I came to that graphic paragraph, the pared down essence so fraught with tension and horror. And yet, the correlation to nature, and the drawn comparison to pain in her body and in the outer world. Wondrous.

  11. I think this is one of your best pieces I’ve seen. Very painful read and a lingering sense of discomfort, knowing that it’s not over. Beautiful, powerful writing, Linda.

  12. Pingback: Week #26 – Animal behavior | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  13. Linda — you manage the narrative with this perfectly. 1st paragraph imbued with innocence and the menace is revealed with just the right pace until the climactic paragraph…giving the reader, in a sense, a feel of the same ride. Very powerful, intense and incredibly well crafted….impressed with how you deliver this range in such a short piece. THis next comment kinda silly, but i found myself looking at the title The Way it Is and hearing it as almost an ironic flipping of The Way We Were.

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