Do Earwigs Go To Heaven?
November 1, 2013 § 10 Comments
A fragment of a short story written a while back. The rest is hiding in my laptop and I can’t find it. Maybe the piece works on its own. What do you think? Unashamedly written in the style of Tove Jansson
‘How would you know when you’d gone to heaven?’ asked Alice.
‘I’d just know,’ replied Gran.
‘I’d feel different.’
‘What kind of different?’
‘I’d feel calmer because people wouldn’t be bothering me with difficult questions all the time.’
‘What would it look like when you got there?’
Gran puffed up her cheeks and breathed out like she was a balloon and someone was letting all her air out. ‘I can’t be certain because I haven’t been there yet, and I haven’t talked to anyone who has either. I think it might look like that meadow over there.’
They went to have a proper look. The day was baking, the road was cracked and spattered with dried up cowpats, and all the wild flowers in the ditch were shrivelling up. They pushed open the gate and sat down in the long brown grass bending over from the weight of its seed heads. There were ripe buttercups to pick, and low spiky bushes of young blueberries hiding in the grass.
An earwig jumped off a seed head and crawled onto the old lady’s shoe. She picked a blade of grass and flicked it off.
‘Earwigs bite you know,’ said Alice.
‘Don’t think they do. I’ve been in this world eighty eight years and I’ve not been bitten once.’
‘Well, I’ve been here eighty years less, and I have. Maybe you’ve never met a cross earwig.’
It crawled away and Alice wondered if it might come back later and bite her. ‘Are there earwigs in heaven?’ she asked.
‘No,’ said the old lady firmly lying down on the grass and putting her sunhat over her face.
Always liked Tove Jansson – takes me back to childhood. I like this and think that it works as it is, taking the earwig as a metaphoric device for… well, whatever you think it is.
Thanks Chris. I like to think that’s just what Tove would have said!
Interesting one for a harmless old atheist to ponder upon. Dust of cosmic storms v Knowledge born of age and the expectancy of a worthy pay back in a place I don’t know! Beautifully written and thought provoking. Co-incidentally, at 16 years of age I once wrote a spoof letter to the Egyptian Embassy raising my concern about ‘earwig baiting’ there and even got a reply!
Thank you kind sir. The story didn’t have any deeper meaning. It was just a bit of a mardle really. Somewhere at the back of the airing cupboard I have a rather irreverent story about two chaps who create havoc in heaven. I think it might suit your sensibility nicely. It is vaguely funny too.What did the Embassy say I wonder…
Havoc in Heaven – must be like St. Peter losing the gate keys so no one can get in and a camp has to be set up outside with food parcels and a Godfam charity digging in to help out – now you see why you write and I spin off to ‘ether knows where!’
Oddly, I just posted what the Embassy said – although the pic didn’t come out again today on the Reader thing. When you write a lot of captions not having the picture showing as the ‘hook’ renders said caption somewhat pointless! Keep writing.
I thought this was completely charming. The conversation between the child and older person is perfect and it made me smile 🙂
Thank you. It’s hard to get the balance right with the dialogue and the narrative!
Yes definitely, it is spot on and I can really sense the relationship between the two, it is wonderfully evoked.
A sweet little story! I love the dialogue–it’s very authentic.
Thank you. Jansson has taught me a lot about dialogue.