By Benjamin Thomsett
The decapitated wasp head still bit and chewed at anything in front of its face. Meanwhile, a little further away on the windowsill, the body arched and the tiny black-needle stinger jabbed and jabbed. I watched the two separate parts do this for 20 minutes, sometimes prodding and leaning in close for a better look. Was the wasp alive or were the spasms of post-death the angry feelings of a yellow and black soul? Was there a difference?
As an eight-year-old I couldn’t work it out. I still can’t, come to think of it. I guess I could look it up now, but I don’t think it’ll change the perspective I have of cruelty and death, or the historical religious ideology that grew with that warped little boy. Memories can’t remake themselves, and I don’t care what a Nobel prize-winner tells me after being locked in a laboratory for 10 years. Lab chemicals and a lack of natural light can do strange things to a mind. So can academic isolation.
As an eight-year-old I tested things for myself: “O Lord, receive this wasp…. Shit, is it dead yet? Send me a sign.” Nothing.
A poll on the UK news yesterday showed that a little less than three quarters of the Christians polled believed in the resurrection of Jesus following his crucifixion. Just over half of them said they believed in Heaven/Hell/some form of afterlife. Is that important? I don’t know. And I doubt you do either.
There’s only one way of finding out and we’ll all get our answer to that particular sticky question in the end—heart attack, eaten by a bear, it doesn’t matter how you get there, just be assured you will eventually see the truth, even if it’s just the light fading and the voices getting distant. One thing is certain: you’ll never be able to share the answer with the rest of us back here scrabbling in the human filth of war, enforced poverty, and a vicious pandemic. It’s hard to hear spiritual whispers from beyond the grave when you’re choking.
Just as well. Questions are okay, but only if you are ready for the answers.
There must have been 10 wasps on the windowsill that summer. They all died terribly, jabbing and twisting, little legs circling. Some of them took a long time to stop moving, the stinger last of all. Victims of me and a cheap copy of a Swiss Army penknife. No anger or revenge. Just cold concentration.
It felt good to be in charge for once.
About the Writer:
Benjamin Thomsett is a parent, partner, and hot noodle hater. He lives in North Lincolnshire, UK, where the air is clear and the birds sing loudly. In his spare time, he worries about most things.