I went bounding down our stairs and accosted Phil with a demand, "You have to come upstairs and pick something up for me." What now? his face said for him. "Now!" I said pulling him. It wasn’t something heavy but something that made me wiggle and wince into a little girl. It was a bug. Worse, "I think we have a dead frog in my office. Well, it’s not a frog. It’s on its way, or was, to becoming a frog, I think. It’s too far along to be a tadpole, but it’s close."
When we entered my writing room, I stood far away and pointed to the corner. It had been behind my boxes, where I store camp photographs and letters. I’d never seen this kind of thing before and was fairly certain it hadn’t come from my box or a lake. It was kind of clear looking, a see-through kind of gumminess. It was curled. "Are you sure it’s dead?" Phil asked upon examination.
"I don’t know! Just get it. Now is not the time to play Frogger."
"It’s a scorpion, Stephanie." A tad bit off guessing it was a tadpole. What was I thinking? A mini-frog? It’s just that I didn’t look that closely, and it was turned over, and I just saw a long tail, sort of curled, as I imagined a seahorse or tadpole to be. And the color, kind of clear and brownish red. Orange really. How was I to know what the hell a scorpion looked like? A scorpion! Can’t you die from a scorpion?! Aren’t they quite lethal? He poked it, turning it over. It was dead. I ran out of the room making audible "heebie-geebie" sounds and running my hands over my entire body, wiggling. "Now I’m all itchy!" And completely freaked out.
This was weeks ago, now. I’ve since googled the crap out of scorpions, particularly the Austin kind to learn they’re not actually insects. What we have are Tree-hugging scorpions, protesters with peace signs on their VW buggies, friendship bracelets, anklets, tie die and beards. No, I got that wrong, not tree-hugging. They’re considered "striped bark scorpions," and while not lethal here in Texas, "Body size of the victim is very important. Children, because of their small size, are at greater risk of severe envenomation than are adults." Severe envenomation? Holy fuck. I don’t know what this means but it can’t be good. And… "Some people are allergic to scorpion venom in the same way that some are allergic to honey bee venom. In such cases, very severe effects, including death, can occur very rapidly and are not related to the toxicity of the venom." And all I can think is keep honey away from babies! Bees are bad. Scorpions must be worse! I don’t know what our children are allergic to, but going down because of The Scorpion King ain’t how it’s gonna happen. Not on my watch!
Several times a day, I am certain one is crawling on me. Even now as I type this, I look down, startled when I feel something on my leg. It’s the power cord to my computer, but I was sure it was a bug of some kind. I feed one of the babies, and their foot wiggles, and I resist the urge to smack it. Every small sensation, the way my shorts fall on my leg, the lip of my shirt, all of it feels like it might be a bug. Or worse, a non-insect… a scorpion with pinchers.
Each night, before going to sleep, I turn on the lights in the writing room and check along the walls for scorpions. And there’s never anything there. I haven’t been remembering to check the ceilings, too. They’re climbers, they are. They like to live in attics and warm places. Then I look beneath the covers. This causes quite a stir if one of the beans is asleep in our room. Mostly they sleep in their own room right now, in their own cribs, but occasionally one of them will be asleep in our room, in their pack ‘n’ play (mostly Abigail because of her need to turn onto her stomach and subsequently scream bloody murder until someone repositions her to her back). And my turning on the lights to check our bed for scorpions causes her to awake and Phil to groan. "I can’t help it! I’m totally freaked out!" We’ve had Terminix come. They’ve sprayed. Assured me everything would die. "We usually charge for this service," the guy said last time of the bomb spray he applied to the exterior of our house. Days later…
I found another scorpion, in the same room, only this time it was alive. "Kill it, Phil, please!"
"Well get me something!"
I ran toward our closet. "Get me a shoe," he yelled.
"But my shoes are too nice!"
"Just get a shoe!!!"
I returned with some kind of brown hushpuppy. And we watched as the scorpion began to scuttle away. "Get it!"
And he did. I didn’t watch. But now that I’ve seen two, I’m damn near ready to move. Every time my hair whispers across my forehead or behind my ear, I get that whole jumpy twitchy reaction. "What?" Phil asks concerned as he witnesses my fit.
"Nothing. It was just my hair." And I’m scared of nearly every touch and now every creepy crawly bug and non-bug. And forget it. Now that I’ve read, "Littersize for this species is reported to be 13-47 (average 31)," I’m just beside myself, imagining a host of babies with their new pinchers crawling over mine. And worst of it all is scorpions are most active at night! So much for, "goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!"