Study on a Ladybug
During the pandemic you make friends with a ladybug. You watch it waddle across the Spanish terrace and around your fingers, gentle like a girl. You like ladybugs but not for the obvious reasons– you like them because they stop and hold still for long periods of time. They only fly little bits at once. Lucky flies. You think about your unanswered texts. The one from the teacher at the job you quit, how are you doing? Have things gotten better? And the one from the woman at group therapy in Ohio, are you staying safe? Insert a little mask-wearing sick emoji and a blue heart. You think about your walks to get pre-packaged pretzels and hummus from the hospital cafeteria. You rock slower in your wicker rocking chair because you see the ladybug flying around and you are hyper vigilant about not crushing it beneath one of your rocks. You tried to overcompensate with confidence on those cafeteria walks so the doctors wouldn’t be able to tell if you were a patient or just a guest in a fur coat. It’s not about shame, it’s about protection. Sometimes you looked them right in the eye and smiled knowingly, almost as if to say I’m sorry you’re stuck here too, fellow normal person. Except you know from TV that almost no doctors are normal and they all have terrible hidden vices that make for exciting pilot episodes, like cocaine or schizophrenia.
The ladybug rests in a guttery crack in the terrace and spins around a few times like it’s a bumper car. You think about the old amusement park you used to stop in in New Hampshire when you went up to the mountains from Boston. The excitement you felt on those trips because you and your sisters would stay in the same room as a boy, a novel experience of romance and mystery. Didn’t really matter in the end since you’re a homosexual, but all those asking permissions for sleepovers with boys made it hotter than it was. You think about the paintings your ex-boyfriend did of you in his teenage attic room. He doesn’t paint anymore, except on things like jeans and pillowcase masks. It’s a shame really, he was good. Turned to face the wall of your bedroom in your parents’ house is your favorite painting of his, a gift. It’s almost like a renaissance hunting scene, all pinks and sky blues and mustard yellows so the stags and river look like wacky cartoons. You keep it in case he ends up famous one day and you don’t. Then you’ll sell it.
The ladybug stalls diagonal from the edge of a terrace tile, almost in the sun. If the ladybug were in your online design course the instructor would tell it that the mistake of young people is leaving things too close to the edge. If only she knew. The ladybug keeps walking.
L Scully is a queer, nonbinary American emerging writer and artist currently based in Madrid. Their work focuses mainly on sexuality, gender, and mental illness, as well as love on occasion.