I'm three and a half. I know that. So I don't even answer as I run into the open garage to get my tricycle, already seeing myself riding it as fast as I can up and down the driveway. It can go really fast when I peddle hard. I'm almost on top of the wasp before I see it.
I freeze. Someone has told me a wasp won't sting you if you stand still. Probably one of my brothers. They know a lot of important information that grown-ups have forgotten. I stand very still, barely breathing, watching the wasp.
He is crawling around the garage floor in no particular hurry, about two feet away, oblivious of me. I watch him, standing so still my mother wouldn't recognize me, waiting for him to fly away. The wasp does not leave. I begin to breathe again. I don't want to, but it has become necessary. The wasp doesn't notice. I know it's only a matter of time, though. The likliehood that I'll be able to stand this still for very long is not high. Worse, the wasp is walking toward me. True, it's a very slow wasp-walk, but I don't like the direction. I stand frozen, trying to think through my terror.
Don't move, my brother said. Not, don't talk.
"Mom," I say, low but urgent. No answer. But she's just inside the door a few yards away. "Mom!" I call louder, my voice high, shaking with fear. "There's a wasp!"
"Don't bother it."
I can't believe she's said that.
"Mom!" I call again, more urgently. "It's coming toward me!" I am on the verge of crying, but I don't think the wasp will respond the way my mother and brothers do. It'll probably react more like my sister, who pinches me when I cry. In wasp-talk, that means sting. My eyes tear up anyway. I'm too scared to wail, but definitely crying.
"Just back away from it!" Mom calls through the screen door, a little impatiently.
"I can't!" full wail now, although I still haven't moved. "If I move it'll sting me!" Doesn't she know this?
The screen door slaps open. I hear my mother coming. I stifle my sobs, not wanting to be stung this close to rescue. She picks me up from behind and carries me out of the garage. The stupid wasp never even notices.
"There. You're safe now," she says with a note of exasperation in her voice as she puts me down. Wiping my eyes and struggling with the residue of terror, I watch her go back inside where she's having tea with her friend. She doesn't laugh--not even when she's inside--my mother wouldn't do that. But I feel the sharp sting of embarrassment nevertheless.
This is the last time I let a wasp scare me. As a result, I am stung several times as a child --but none is as bad as the stinging embarrassment I felt that day.