The Wasp

Leaves rustle in the cardboard box my cats call their bed. I think they are leaves. But the tabby cat tugs at the gray blanket, scooting away, reaching for the fleece once more. I realize the rustling continues when her paws are off the bed. I also notice that instead of peeking inside the box, she’s set on keeping her head high, as if her body was immersed in a bucket of water. She blinks at me, and I stare at the box. Wriggling continues near the opening, where cardboard flaps were pushed inward. I don’t think ants are this strong, and the few I’ve seen this past month suggest that no one is using any sort of leaf for any parade or burial procession. Truthfully, there is no leaf, though a sliver of neon quite like the glimmer of a harmless soap bubble tells me that my cat is arguing with a wasp.

The scratching slows, and I see a pinch of fleece sucked inward. The argument may be moot. The wasp grows quieter and I hope it is happy because noon is the time for infinite napping. A pile of napkins sits on the counter and I count the seconds between each rustle.

Three,
eight,
seventeen.

He’s using all he has to scrape a song out of dead trees. It feels like a scalp massage, listening to him, while I reach for a napkin and grab a shoe recently deemed missing. He is not a horse. He continues to make noise. I place the shoe next to its identical twin, who rests on a shelf in the same place for months at a time, toe box pointing diagonally as if to scold anyone and everyone who can’t keep still. Including myself after drinking three cups of hot chocolate.

The rustling booms into a frantic rattle, capable of turning the heads of strangers like the fists of someone who realizes that the HELP button isn’t working, that she will stand stuck within this chessboard elevator. She can only hope that the walls don’t fall, that the floor doesn’t swallow with the insistence I see in this unhappy wasp that pulls and pulls on the fleece blanket draped over a cardboard box. Over one thousand seconds pass. The leaves outside fall, barely impressed.

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