When I think of the moment in my life when I’ve been the most terrified, I am transported back in my mind to the time when I was 8 years old and playing in a field next to our house in Connecticut. It was a beautiful summer’s day, and I was enjoying the sunshine. Then I felt something touch the back of my leg.
When I looked down, there was this… thing. I can still see it clearly. It was the strangest bug I’ve ever seen in my life. It was about 6 inches across when you included all its long, spiny protrusions. It looked very delicate and beautiful and menacing at the same time. It was all the more scary because I had no idea what it was or what it might do. It kind of looked like a skinny colorful airborne lionfish.
I didn’t know if it was poisonous, so I froze. Then I burst into tears and screamed for my mother at the top of my lungs. Repeatedly. But she couldn’t hear me. It felt like I was stuck there for hours. My heart was pounding. I’m sure it was probably only a few minutes before it gracefully floated away. It really did look like it was floating through the air. I didn’t see any wings.
When I ran screeching into the house and described it to my mother, she didn’t take me seriously despite, or perhaps because of, my hysteria. She’d never heard of such a thing. (To this day I hate it when I’m not taken seriously.)
Two years passed, and even I was beginning to think that maybe I had imagined that creature. Then one day I was sitting on the back porch of the house we had recently moved to, and another one floated up. It landed on a decorative shell we had sitting there, and seemed to be trying to climb inside. I ran into the house to get my mother, but she wasn’t taking me seriously yet again, and by the time I got her to come out on the porch (while I stood in the doorway ready to bolt inside) the thing had moved on.
To this day I have no idea what I saw. I think I’d feel better if I knew, but when you Google “bug that looks like a lionfish” all you get, predictably, are pictures of lionfish.
From an adult perspective I know that my terror stemmed from the unknown, and the fact that I was unsure if I was safe, and realized that no one was going to come to my rescue. My continuing trauma was not being taken seriously and having to question my own sanity. No kid should have to experience that.
I sure wish I knew what that bug was.