My love is missing. Or perhaps not. Or perhaps not in a permanent way. I see her in the garden walking among the flowering trees, the elephant ears and ferns. She stops to look at butterflies and listen to the cry of a red shouldered hawk. A zephyr catches a wisp of her hair, and a delicate tendril dances on the breeze.
But then the sun peeps out from behind a cloud, a ray of light strikes her, and she’s gone. Another creature stands in her place. It looks like a woman but has the eyes of a praying mantis.
These unnatural transformations have occurred at irregular intervals since the middle of last week, and I’ve discovered, to my horror, that I harbor an attraction to the creature that is equal to my ardor for my love. I am forced to recall my spotty record in affairs of love–I’m prone to disaster when choosing mates. One woman, who nearly drove me mad, made impossible, escalating demands, and another cheated on me after we became engaged. Either one would have shortened my life if we had married, but only time gave me enough clarity to be grateful for my narrow escapes.
Mantis stands before me and holds an appendage near its mouth with a claw bent downward. I feel a perverse urge to move near to kiss it’s chitinous mouth. It has the same shape as my lover’s lips if not their tenderness. Some instinct for survival holds me back.
My love is a biologist who studies the movement of plant leaves. But she’s always shown an obsessive interest in insects, and is a fan of the Star Trek series. What if she combined her side interests and conducted experiments in insecto-human teletransportation? What if she got caught in a phased loop and crosses between dimensions? She takes the form of a woman in one and morphs into the hybrid creature in the other…
I flirt with death by decapitation every time the hypnotic reflections in Mantis‘ eyes bid me draw near. I feel the pull of my attraction to it, resist the effects of its pheromones, and try to stagger away. Some female insects devour male consorts directly after romantic encounters.
I feel like David Hedison in the final scene of the movie, “The Fly”. He’s shrunk to the size of a housefly. He gets caught in a web strung between two plants in a back yard garden and cries, “Help me! Help me!” as a spider crawls ever nearer.