The Wasp by Janet Yung.
The cat and I spent the better part of the day chasing the wasp out of the house.
Bert left for work not long after the wasp made its appearance. Whats that? he asked. He stood at the front door, lunch bag and brief case in hand.
A wasp, I shrieked. That had startled Hortense from her breakfast. The only time she heard that tone of voice was when she was discovered in the middle of the dining room table set for guests.
Where did it come from? Bert looked puzzled.
Outdoors was my first guess.
The wasps had built a nest near the porch roof. The week before, a few were on the porch. I was convinced the tiny gap between the bead board ceiling and brick wall of the enclosed back porch was their entry point. Holding open the back door, they escaped. Bert promised to look into it.
Id forgotten about it until now. In my haste that morning to fill the bird baths, Id left the door from the kitchen to the porch open which gave the wasp direct access to the house. And, a disruption to my agenda. This was the day I planned to finish a list of chores Id been putting off. Things I never found time to do on the weekend and took the day of to do so.
Well, dont get stung, were Berts parting words.
Ill try not to.
Then it was just me and the cat. I couldnt count too heavily on the cat. Other than cat toys, Hortense had no real hunting experience. And, her toys didnt make the buzzing noise the wasp did.
The first thing we need to do, I told Hortense, is isolate it.
The swinging door into the dining room whooshed closed and the door to the hall slammed shut. Hortense was on her haunches in high alert. Her tiny pink tongue licked her nose. The wasp circled the room.
My best opportunity to get it out of the house was to direct it to its point of entry. I switched off the overhead light and moved swiftly towards the porch door and swung it open.
Normally, Hortense would make a mad dash for the porch to enjoy the view from the enclosed space. Ever vigilant for the bird who might perch on the deck. This morning, though, the porch held no interest. The buzzing, whirling insect much closer and more accessible.
The wasp made a full circle of the kitchen with a couple swoops at me and Hortense. I covered my head. Hortense swatted at the air with her left front paw. Youll never get it that way, I said from beneath the front page of the morning paper. Id snatched it from the table and propped it over my head for added security. Hortense tossed a withering look at me indicating Id taken the cowardly approach to the situation.
The wasp darted towards the window over the sink. Damn, I said. It was going in every direction where there was the slightest bit of light. The wide expanse of daylight streaming in through the back door the obvious choice for me, but not the wasp.
As it moved away from the window, I edged in that direction and closed the blinds. One less place for it to head in its next trip around the room. It buzzed along the ceiling. Hortense moved her head in circles trying to keep up with its movements.
When it flew towards the porch, I gently nudged it with paper. You shouldve swatted it when you had the chance, was what Bert would say later. Easy in retrospect to know exactly what to do. Then it disappeared.
Once I determined it was best to leave the porch door open, Hortense and I waited for the wasps next move. Nothing. A hush fell over the room. Perhaps the wasp had slipped past me, but I doubted it. After a few minutes, Hortense stood at the closed door to the hall. Clearly bored with the whole adventure, she was ready to nap.
Okay, I said and slowly opened the hall door. Once Hortense and I had both slipped out of the kitchen, I pulled the door shut. No point in letting the insect roam the rest of the house.
Hortense jumped on the sofa and stuck her head between the curtains for an overview of the front lawn. Nothing exciting going on out there. She did a couple turns to find the most comfortable position and then was down for the count. I tackled my chores.
Lunch forced me back into the kitchen. Hortenses appetite alarm went off about the same time as mine. She wasnt used to a midday meal during the week, but since I was home she must have assumed it was either a holiday or shed miscalculated, and it was the weekend again.
I turned the door knob as quietly as possible and stuck my head in the kitchen. Hortense was ahead of me in a flash. I followed, careful to close the door behind me. Hortense raced to her water bowl and took a drink before turning her attention to the dry food. She sniffed at it and then looked at the empty bowl where her canned food should be.
Meow, her sad comment.
Okay, okay. I opened the refrigerator door. She was beside me as I squatted down to retrieve an already opened can of cat food. Once a clean bowl was filled, she focused on her meal.
For me, the leftovers werent very appealing, so I rooted around in the freezer. Nothing much there either. I settled for some frozen mac and cheese, read the instructions and popped it in the microwave.
While I waited for the bell to ring, I picked up a book Id been reading before the wasp surfaced -- an instructional manual on how to do everything better. I flipped to the index for a recipe to remove mustard from a white shirt. Deep in concentration, the buzzing sound behind the blind was barely audible at first. I jerked my head up from the page. The bell rang on the microwave as Hortense finished her meal. There it was again. Not a figment of my imagination, but the unmistakable sound of something trapped.
Damn, was my first reaction. Hortense looked up. Dont worry, honey, I told her, Ive got this under control.
My voice must not have conveyed the confidence Id hoped because she gave me one of her doubtful expressions. The way she looked at me when I brought out the pet taxi that only signaled a trip to the vets. If she could have bolted the room, she would have. And, I was tempted to let her slip to safety, but the wasp might go along with her.
Slowly and quietly, I turned the wand to open the blinds. There it was, hovering at the window, able to see outside, but unable to get there. It had to be frustrating. Hortense jumped on the counter.
Hortense, you stay there. Her whiskers twitched. I pulled up the blinds and the wasp flew out into the room. Hortense batted at the air. I hoped she wouldnt make herself dizzy and tumble to the ground.
From behind the shelter of the porch door, I encouraged, Here, here, but the wasp was having none of it. He kept returning to the window. My best option was to skulk beneath his flight pattern and lower the blinds; the only source of light streaming in from the porch.
Blinds closed, the wasp seem completely disoriented, and made a low swoop above Hortense who slipped across the counters slick surface. Certain I would lose her to some catastrophe, I stretched my arm out to keep her from falling when the wasp made one last low dive before returning to the closed blind.
You must be the stupidest wasp ever, was my comment. Insulted, he buzzed back towards me and in that instant finally spotted the light pouring in from the porch window. One step closer to freedom. Hortense let out a cry and jumped from her perch.
Fortunately, I was faster and managed to close the door between kitchen and porch. On the porch, I opened the outside door with the hope the wasp would get the idea. A couple trips around the tiny space and, eureka, the wasp flew into the open air.
So, how did you spend your day? Bert wanted to know.
Youd be surprised, began my tale..
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