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"Exploring the Absurd: A Dive into Magical Realism"

This is the beginning of a love story. In ways, it may seem unedited. But isn't all love?



Phantasmagoria

1: an exhibition of optical effects and illusions

2a: a constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined

b: a scene that constantly changes

3: a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage


Lepidopterology: a branch of entomology concerning the study of moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies. Someone who studies in this field is called a lepidopterist or, archaically, an aurelian.

 

Like a sputtering flame, works a brain misfiring.

 

CHAPTER – THE LAST DAYS

Only later did people realize how complicit the raccoons were with the butterflies in the commission of their crime. Once they did, it was too late. By then, everything had changed. The infestation had occurred. People could only gawp in amazement at the devastation. The size of the hole, after all, was nothing they’d ever seen before except perhaps on TV or in some natural science magazine if one took an interest in such things, things like sinkholes, but only then and only in some removed sense. Because, plainly, this was no run of the mill sinkhole. Quite the opposite.

***

They existed in their own cocoon, of sorts, the Ingalls’ did.


Janey Ingalls swiped a tress of graying hair out of her face after she heard several things that night: the trill of a Swainson’s thrush winning out against distant rolling thunder, a fox barking for its pack, a hoot owl near her bedroom window in one of the maple trees out in the circular driveway, and something scuffling on the roof, the place where twenty years before Rick asked her to marry him.


A construction zone of sorts, the sounds that night.


Back only three weeks after Rick was admitted into in-home hospice care.


“He doesn’t have long,” the doctor said. “Less than six months. Maybe less than that.”


Janey knew she might as easily climb the ladder into the attic, then exit through the attic door to peer over the expanse of the roof to find out what the hell was going on up there but, more than anything, she wanted to go back to sleep. It had been a rough day in the caregiving of Rick.


At two in the morning, sleep wasn’t forthcoming with all the racket coming from the roof, from outside in the woods, from inside their home through the floorboards of the crawl space, from Rick’s raspy breathing. For Janey, it was a matter of course—just another day living in a country home. You got roof rats? You live in the country. You got cockroaches in your sewer lines? You live in the city.


Janey preferred country living like Rick. And Rick loved rooftops and so fashioned a door—weather-sealed and tight—so that he had easy access to go up when the mood struck him, for a chance to view meteors crashing through the night sky or a moth flitting headlong into lamplight. It didn’t matter. He loved high places. He loved moths and meteors.


“I want to sprout wings and jump,” he once admitted.


“Not tonight, dear. I have a busy day tomorrow,” Janey had said. They laughed. They always laughed with each other. They had fun together whether on the ground or up high on the roof.


Since his ailment, however, she and Rick hadn’t climbed up to this favorite spot. Why in God’s name would she venture up there alone? Besides, it was their special place together and now, he couldn’t get there anymore. So, what was the point?



The time was early June on the island when the infestation descended upon Rick and Janey’s home. The takeover specific to them and them alone. Not another neighbor expressed a similar issue. And if anyone would find out about a wider problem around the island, they seemed to point a unified finger at Janey.


Neighbors took issue about everything when it came to the Ingalls.’ They took issue with their address sign at the front of her driveway, they took issue that she didn’t put up a sign for their favorite politician. Janey could barely turn left to town or right to the bay without someone giving her a sneer. She didn’t have many friends until they heard about Rick’s health. When, suddenly, everyone wanted to help.


And, by the way, how did they find out? She wasn’t offering any information. But that’s life in a small town where the rumor mill turns bright and with fervor.


Anyway, the infestation began three weeks prior converging with the news of Rick’s impending demise. The peak infestation happened one day when “these creatures of God,” as the newspapers would later describe, made their trek in concert, like someone pulling up a blanket from the woods, through the grass, up and over the walls of the Ingalls’ home. So thick, the infestation.


The community blamed Janey but not in a negative way. No, instead, they were amazed by the infestation, say, as children might be amazed.


“Get pictures!” People with their cell phones lined the Ingalls’ driveway but left soon enough when caterpillars climbed onto their pantlegs, when they dropped onto their heads and shoulders. "Good lord, they're on me!" they'd shriek, then barrel away toward the road. Toward safety.


“’S gotta be millions of ‘em.”


“Tufts of cotton,” people said when they were still cocoons. It’s what they called the boles of fuzziness, thousands upon thousands, some singly, some clustered together as if to keep warm, thirty or forty, one upon another, wild things huddled in their own cottony sanctuary, those thousands upon thousands of caterpillar cocoons.


Janey refused to have them swept off. Removing them would destroy them and in destroying them, would be the end of Rick, lover of all things moth or caterpillar: Mr. Lepidoptera.


“It’s their wings,” he’d once told Janey. “They can be so delicate yet have enough tensile strength to lift fifty times their weight.” His voice always changing when he spoke about these creatures—getting scientific and a tad pedantic, teachy. “The giant butterflies can lift unimaginable things. You’d be surprised.”


Janey watched his face when he spoke. His expression moving from amazement, to joy, to sheer love, from love to respect for everything butterfly and moth too. And we mustn’t forget meteors but meteors don’t play into what happened that final day unless you speak of the sound, the crash, the sheer force shoving air out of the way.

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