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The Larvae of Tree-dwelling Species Stay Where They Hatch

Story by Janna Miller (Read author interview) November 29, 2021

Photograph by Lucie Hůrková

Fifteen new species of luna moth covered the cars when we left Moxie’s birthday party, delicate and translucent. Their overlapping wings clogged vents and engines, blocked doors and jammed up underneath wheel rims like pale spreading weeds grown through an empty garden pot, with nothing happening but the passage of time and maybe a concert to a sweaty ska band and a rough but unexpected lingering hug, your collarbone sharp against my cheek. Though the moths were more insidious and not at all violent, one broke off to land on your finger, dipping its coiled proboscis into a bead of sweat along your wrist. We walked home for two hours in the heat, the pavement radiating up our knees, but you didn’t complain, because the moths hadn’t bloomed in our throats or ruined the birthday party. Even though we had to call Moxie and say why the cars needed to stay on her street forever because once you get moths twisted around your tailpipe and pushed under wheel rims, there’s nothing to do but walk away and hope insurance gives you a used Toyota or at least some bus fare. With a new species every day you have to be happy with what you get, like Moxie’s sister who can’t convince anyone to remove a five-hundred-pound robin nesting on her front porch, each egg a potential pterodactyl, and we get it, of course we do. It happens every day now and that’s just the way things are in the age of Spontaneous Creation, which descended kind of suddenly when we all thought things were dying, but maybe they were just changing into something else. Like combining the molecules of our shedding skin, the moisture droplets on our breath, morphed somehow into a new beetle highway or a rain of frogs. But I think it is more what I know and what you feel. How I get butterflies in my stomach when you are around, especially after you kissed me at Moxie’s just inside the door in an explosion of mouth, before we had a chance to even know what was happening. Making me wonder if that isn’t what created fifteen new species, which is really a lot, since I know I only had nine or ten flittering around inside me, so the rest must have come from you.

About the Author

Librarian, mother, and minor trickster, Janna spends her time annoying lobsters, sharpening the edges of paper, and refusing to take out the trash. She has published or forthcoming works in places like Cheap Pop, F(r)ction, and Andromeda Spaceways. Nominated for The Best Small Fictions. Generally, if the toaster blows up, it is not her fault. She tweets about somewhat boring, writing related topics @ScribblerMiller

About the Artist

Lucie Hůrková is a photographer based in Prague, Czech Republic.

This story appeared in Issue Seventy-Three of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seventy-Three
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Important

The SmokeLong Quarterly Comedy Prize 2021!

This competition is no longer accepting entries. The long- and shortlists have been published on the blog. The four winners of the competition will be featured in Issue 74 of SmokeLong Quarterly coming out near the end of December.