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A Sense of Adventure

I watch it squirm and struggle between my fingers. Watch its legs wriggle and kick at the smoky air. I can see my eyes in its polished black shell, flames quiver within them like leaves in a breeze. I drag myself away from the fire as it licks at my exposed arms. My grip still tight around the body of the beetle.

“Do you think this is what she had in mind?” he says.

I look across the fire. He sits cross legged next to a larger man wearing nothing but tanned trousers. They pass a leather pouch between them, liquid sloshing around inside. A woman nearby beats a tune on a leather drum as others dressed in bright patterned cloth dance around us.

“I’m not sure.” I reply. “Probably not.” And I stare at the creature trying to force its way out of my hands, just as I’d stared at its cousin when she’d told me.

Sat at the kitchen table, half a glass of Chardonnay being sipped at, one bottle already finished. She insisted that I sat down. So, I did.

“His name’s Pablo,” she’d said. And, with that I watched the black beetle scurry up the wall behind her as if knowing what was coming and wanting out. It crawled through a crack in the wall and disappeared. I knew how it felt.

Escarabajo ciervo.” The man holding the drink smiles, nods.

“Sorry?” I say. I can’t speak the lingo so I look to my partner, “What did he say?”

“Stag beetle,” he says, trying not to laugh as my face scrunches up.

It writhes faster, fiercer as it tries one last time to escape. I lift it up and feel its legs prickle and itch my lips. I take a deep breath and bite down. Its gooey warmth fills my mouth as I crunch its shell between my teeth. It stops trying to escape, no longer capable. I swallow.

“Will she still say I’m not adventurous enough?”

Flash Fiction by Joel Rawlin

Published in Summer 2017


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