Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine's Tale

The most important item in the fiction writer's toolbox is the question "What if...?" The most memorable stories have emerged from possibilities that sprung up in the minds of writers who posed that question. Yet, sometimes you do have to wonder what goes on in the minds of authors...For example, what could possibly have prompted to Kafka to ask, what if a man woke up transformed into an insect? Yet, he did, and now we continue to read and ponder Metamorphosis. 

For today's tale, I've taken it one step further. What if instead of waking up as a giant insect, you were sleeping next to it? Would love prevail? I thought I'd share my very short story with you today on Valentine's Day. 

Metamorphosis: A Love Story

Greta Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams to find a hideous insect beside her on the bed. Leaping up in horror, she screamed out for her husband.

"Gregor! Get the bug spray. There's a giant cockroach in our bed."

Greta ran into the hall bathroom and slammed the door. After several minutes, she cracked the door and strained to hear evidence of her husband in the bedroom, doing the deed. 

Hearing no noise at all, Greta ventured out. "Gregor? Are you there?" She thought she heard rustling in the bedroom. Maybe Gregor was cleaning up the mess. Greta tiptoed to the bedroom door and peeked inside. She gasped. The enormous brown insect was stretched out on its back, all tangled up in Gregor's University of Prague T-shirt.  "Gregor! Gregor!" she screamed again and again.

Every time she shouted Gregor's name, the bug flailed its dozen or so legs, like it was having some kind of spastic contraction. When Greta quieted down, so did the movement on the bed.

She scurried to the kitchen to find out what was keeping her husband. But Gregor was not in the kitchen or anywhere else in their tiny, cold flat. Greta groaned. She'd have to take care of this herself. Alas, a woman has to do what a woman has to do when there's no man to do the dirty work.

Summoning all her courage, she armed herself with a can of insecticide and returned to the bedroom. As she moved into the room, spray-can held in her outstretched arm, she stared at the monstrosity still prone on her bed. 

The closer she came to the bed, the more agitated the bug became. Was the wretched thing trying to communicate with her? With its jaw flapping and legs twitching, it seemed to be directing her attention to the nightstand. She stopped in her tracks. On the small table next to Gregor's side of the bed was a red, heart-shaped gift box, propped up next to their wedding picture.

Forgetting her mission for a moment, Greta rushed to examine the contents. Her favorite chocolates! Her joy faded to dismay as she realized she still had work to do before she could enjoy her gift.

Closing in on the insect, she tripped over Gregor's slippers, kicking one under the bed. As she bent to retrieve it, she came face to face with the bug. Could it be smiling at her? Something was familiar about that lopsided mouth.

"Good God, Gregor. It's you!" She dropped the can and sat on the bed. After several moments of sobbing, she took one of his appendages in her hand.

"My darling, don't worry. We'll get through this somehow." As she stroked his head, she realized she had two choices: she could alter the ski cap she had knit him for Valentine's Day to accommodate his antennae, or pick up the bug spray and blast away.

Greta reached over, plucked a truffle from her gift box and popped it in her mouth, letting the savory treat melt on her tongue while she contemplated her decision. She stood up, rubbed her hands together and sighed. There was work to do.

* * *

Hope you enjoyed the story and that your day is filled with welcome Valentine surprises!

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