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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: The Family That Bugged Me
By Betty Castleberry
05/26/08


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I was in the kitchen when I saw it. It was as big as a Brahma bull. Okay, maybe it wasn’t, but it was big and had long antennae jutting out of its black head. It scurried across the floor and pushed itself into the corner in an attempt to hide. I screamed, as any self-respecting female would do, and grabbed the broom. I dreaded the mess it was going to make when I whacked it and released its gooey innards.

Holding the broom up, I was about to strike a blow when I heard a faint voice. “Please don’t kill me.”

Confused, I squinted at the bug. “Are you talking?

“Yes. Please spare me.”

“But you can’t talk.”

“Oh, but I can, Sue.”

It knew my name. I looked around for the hidden camera, suspecting I was on some new reality show.

It waved its antennae at me. “I’m definitely talking. You think I can’t, because you’ve always been told bugs don’t talk. Put the broom down. I’m really not a bad guy. In fact, I’d like you to go with me.”

“Go where?”

“To meet my family. Me and my cousins live in your walls.”

“Eww. Anyway, this is ridiculous. I can’t go anywhere with you.”

“Why not? My name’s George, and I’m a harmless house beetle.”

He slipped through a crack in the corner. I watched him disappear, positive I had been dreaming.

A minute later, he poked his head back through the crack. “Coming?”

“Yeah right. I can’t get through that crack.”

“You’ve only been told you can’t. Try it.”

“But, the laws of physics…”

“Nonsense. Just try.”

Stupidly, I attempted to go through the crack. A sudden whoosh of air sucked me through and I found myself in a tiny dark corridor.

“Told ya.” George lifted a hair-like leg. “Grab hold, but be gentle and don’t pull it off.”

Shrugging, I very carefully held onto his leg while my eyes adjusted to the light. George led me into a crevice streaked with fibrous threads of pink insulation. Several bugs that looked like him lounged against the wall.

He approached one and nodded to me. “Fred, we have company.”

Fred eyed me curiously. “Welcome. We finally meet face to face.”

I’m sure I mumbled. “Yes, er, that is…”

Fred laughed. “You’ve never seen us, but we’ve lived here a long time. Our ancestors came over on the Juneflower and moved right in. Isn’t that right, George?”

“Yes indeed.”

I wasn’t sure I had heard right. “Don’t you mean the Mayflower?”

Fred shook his head. “No, the Juneflower. It sailed a little later.”

George made a sweeping gesture around the miniscule room. “This is why I insisted you come with me. I wanted you to meet my cousins and make you realize we’ve been here practically forever, but we’ve never bothered you. Fred’s mom and my mom were sisters. Do you see Harriet over there? Her dad and my mom were brother and sister. All of us cousins grew up right here in this very crevice. We’re just an ordinary family, like yours. I admit Harriet’s strange, but no stranger than your cousin Joe. There’s an odd one.”

“You know Joe?”

“Oh yes. The point is, we’re asking you not to harm us. I‘m not the first one of us you threatened. Alfred narrowly escaped your broom.”

“Sorry. Can’t you just stay in here?”

All the time?”



“Oh. Well, don’t you carry diseases?”

“Certainly not. We’re not cockroaches.”

“You look the same.”

George rolled his beady little eyes. “We don’t look anything alike. Besides, cockroaches don’t care much about their hygiene. They’re unshaven and smell like stale cigar smoke.”

Bewildered, I looked around. It did look like any normal family gathering. Fred had started a game of Pinochle. Two beetles sat together, chatting. Harriet was standing on her head. It reminded me of when all my cousins got together, only with a lot more legs. Well, and Joe never stood on his head. Poking himself in the eye was his specialty. Maybe cousins, even these cousins, were just cousins, after all.

I sighed. “Okay, I’ll try to be careful, but I need to go back now.”

George led me back to the crack. With a whoosh, I was standing in my kitchen again.

I grabbed my notepad and scribbled a message to myself. Pleased, I stuck it on the fridge. It read, “Never squash a bug until you sniff it for stale cigar smoke.”


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This article has been read 689 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 05/29/08
Hilarious. Does the same advice go for flying ants (aunts)?
Shirley McClay 05/29/08
Ultra creative! Who woulda thunk to write a cousin story about beetles. Great story but I am still killing any bugs I find in my house! Sorry, George!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/29/08
You have a very creative take on "cousins." I still don't like beetles, but I liked your story very much.
LauraLee Shaw05/30/08
Creative and entertaining! loved, Loved, LOVED the ending! Well done!
Joanne Sher 05/31/08
Cute and funny! A SO creative story, and I love the last line.
Joy Faire Stewart06/01/08
Loved the humor! "...came over on the Juneflower." Very creative and fun!
Marilee Alvey06/01/08
Cute, imaginative and fun! I would have related better to it if I hadn't taken a cup of coffee onto my deck today and taken a sip. I got something in my mouth. I spit out a fly! Had to go in and find some mouthwash, wash out the cup and make another cup of coffee. I say, bugs belong outside. They're not paying rent! (See how realistic your story was?) Great!
Sharlyn Guthrie06/01/08
How did you ever think of this? It's so creative and funny, too. Great job!
Cheri Hardaway 06/01/08
Love your last line! Very entertaining and creative! An enjoyable read. Blessings, Cheri
Lyn Churchyard06/02/08
And this is and example of why you are in Masters! Creativity to the max.
I would love to see this story with bright colorful pictures in a children's book.
I absolutely loved this story. Super job BettyDee.

Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
Tremendously creative, but as a certified bug-phobic, it really made me squirm. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Highly entertaining, and masterfully written. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
Joshua Janoski06/02/08
"Besides, cockroaches don’t care much about their hygiene. They’re unshaven and smell like stale cigar smoke.”

I knew cockroaches were like that! LOL! How do you come up with this GREAT material Betty? I really want to know, because I have yet to find an entry from you that isn't hilarious and ultra creative! I sure hope this places high this week, because it's my favorite so far.
Gerald Shuler 06/04/08
Is this how "Alice in Wonderland" was inspired? You could call this one "Through the Kitchen Crack".

As always, you've done a great job of entertaining.
Debbie Wistrom06/04/08
Thanks for the brick, I loved the Juneflower and the part about a regular family gathering except more legs.

What a perfect title, I loved reading this!
LaNaye Perkins06/04/08
I absolutely love your twistedly creative mind my friend. This was great!
Sara Harricharan 06/04/08
ROFL! This is sooo incredibly creative! I'm still giggling too, I loved this 'buggy' family. It was so fun to see physics go out the window and the bit with the 'stale cigar smoke' was a real kicker. Awesome writing! ^_^
Loren T. Lowery06/04/08
One gift of a writer is if they are able to suspend reality for the reader to engage them in their story ---and you certainly did this for me. However, no matter how adorable you try to make these bugs...they will always bug me! : ) Serioulsy, I'm serious, but I still really enjoyed this story! Loren
Dee Yoder 06/04/08
Betty, this story is an absolute HOOT! I love the description about bugs "lounging against the wall"-that made me laugh out loud. I hate bugs, and especially the ugly beetles that love to sneak out and scare me along about August! But, I doubt I will ever look at them in the same way again. Thanks for the laugh!
Mariane Holbrook06/04/08
You're the funniest thing. I looked up "creative" in the dictionary and Yep! There was your picture in living color! I admire your bravery. I could no more write about bugs than I could about snakes. That might make them think I liked them! You're the best, my friend!
Beth LaBuff 06/04/08
The "JUNEFLOWER" ha ha! The cockroach description and your ending are great! This is my kind of story. Love it!
Peter Stone06/04/08
What a creative take on the topic--talking beetles that are not cockroaches. Loved the last line!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/29/10
I STILL like your story.:-)