"I caught her."
He's almost 10. "She" was a bumblebee.
I thought to wonder why a bee, why his hand. Why holding, and how. But I was on the phone. We are nature people in this house, to the degree that our lifestyles afford it. We like creatures. It was pretty. I figured it was some species he had read about, that he identified as safe.
Later, I called him in from outside. He was sitting by the mailbox. On the ground. Dumbfounded "she stung me! She'll die. It hurts. It itches, too."
I said something like, "what did you think it would do?"
Later, I ribbed him further. Gave him a little grief about the bee, carrying it around like that. That just 'cuz it's furry doesn't make it a pet.
He said, "I found her on some plants at school. I carried her home on my shirt. I thought she was sick. She just stayed there. I talked to her. I told her I was going to make her better, but then she stung me. Now she will die. I killed her."
It was a leap of reasoning, a stumble of guilt.
"I thought, if she was sick, that maybe I couldn't make her better. That maybe she would have to be put out of her misery. And then? It looks like I killed her anyway. They can't live after they lose their stingers. I put her on a rose bush to die."
He sobbed. He lay his head on my lap and sobbed. That big, too-smart, eye-rolling, foot-stomping, put-upon boy broke down.
"Did she have a name?"
"Honey," his voice broke on the "-ney."
I thought of the old lady and the snake, the turtle and the scorpion. Those stories of the wounded and dangerous, made well, only to act out their nature.
He knew she was a bee when he brought her here.
"Maybe she knew, Bass. Maybe she wanted to thank you and offered her the only strong thing she had - the last bit of her 'voice.' She gave you her strength, so she could give up."
"You think so, Mom?"