Friday Night Story

Fire and the Grasshopper

I was camping. Grasshoppers where I lived were small, green, very obviously insects. Out here they were bloated, pale pink, and utterly alien. The only thing that seemed natural about them were the noise they made.

I was staring into the fire. A grasshopper leapt over the circle of rocks, into the pit I'd dug. For a horrified instant I imagined the immensity of the blaze to him- like running into your office building to find that the entire place is on fire.

And I began to contemplate what his life would be like if he survived. It was likely his limbs would burst into flames the second he landed near the hot coals. And even if he escaped with only burns, there was no medical care. Even if there was, he would no longer be able to feed himself, or escape predators. Would other insects bring him food out of pity, or would one of them eat him to end his misery, or even simply because he was an easy meal?

Sometime during my thoughts, I had reached my hand into the fire. My fist was balled around his hard, insect shell. I couldn't tell if he was alive, or moving, or even if he still had his limbs. And I didn't know what I should hope for for him. My hand was starting to throb, and was red, with little patches rising up. The hair on the back of my hand was gone, but I thought I might have felt something move in my palm. It seemed like a fair trade.

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