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“Another one?”

Tyra looked up from her laptop - where the messy sketches of a story she thought was a good idea when waking up in a cold sweat early one Saturday morning resided. Her roommate - Airi - had her lip curled in disgust. Her pale skin caught the glow of the fluorescent light, turning it the same shade as cream. It provided a nice contrast against the coffee black hair that glided down her back.

By her feet, buried in the white carpet of her rug was a scorpion. It moved carelessly, freely, oblivious to the giant disgusted at its mere existence. Airi made a move to grab her shoe but Tyra jumped up, plastic cup in hand as she scooped up the little insect with a sheepish smile.

“Come on, Airi,” Tyra said. “It didn’t do anything.”

“Have you ever been stung by a scorpion before?” Airi asked, cocking one elegantly groomed brow that she usually had colored in but due to the late hour it had already been washed off. “I haven’t even been in Texas for two months and I already know that it hurts like all hell.”

Tyra - who had lived in Texas her entire life - simply shrugged as she had not, in fact, been stung by a scorpion. “Well it hasn’t stung anyone yet,” she said, instead. “I’ll just take it outside.”

“You’re too nice,” Airi said, shaking her head.

Tyra stuck out her tongue as if to prove Airi wrong.

It seemed to do very little because Airi just rolled her eyes, crawling back into the plush fabric of her bed. “I swear that’s the fifth one you’ve taken outside this week. We ought to make an example of them so that they’ll quit coming back.”

“It’s Texas, Airi,” Tyra said. “There’s always gonna be scorpions.”

“Whatever,” Airi said, propping up her Chemistry textbook.

Tyra tried not to think too hard about how dismissive Airi seemed - or how they had a Chemistry test tomorrow - as she slipped on her flip flops and headed out of the dorm room, her hand placed gently over the top of the plastic cup

The streets were quiet that evening. Tyra was pretty sure a party going on somewhere else in the small college town so everyone was most likely there. Tyra didn’t mind the quiet the streets offered as she bent down and tapped the cup, allowing the scorpion to slide safely onto the ground.

“You guys really need to stop following me around.”

The scorpion looked up at her - her dark skin with the faintest reddish hue. The deep brown of her hair. Her dark eyes. The scorpion looked up and saw all of these things or at least Tyra was pretty sure that it did because it said, “Your Majesty it is our duty to protect you.”

A memory. 

She was a little girl - that same dark hair of hers done up in braids. She was sniffling in the corner of the living room while her papa screamed. She couldn’t remember if he was screaming at her or whatever woman he had at the moment or if he was just screaming at the moon. A half-drunk bottle of whiskey. It formed a sticky brown puddle on the floor. Inside the bottle something thrashing.

“I’m not your queen,” Tyra said, with a long-drawn-out sigh. “He knows that I’m not into bugs. Or men.” She rolled her eyes.

The little scorpion looked up at her, its eyes unblinking. Stupid bugs. No matter how many times she tried to explain it to them they didn’t seem to get it. The scorpion king was… well, he was fine. She didn’t mind him. They could get along on occasion. But that didn’t stop her from seeing him as more a father figure than a husband.

“The scorpion king knows but he still thinks you are very precious,” the scorpion said, sounding rather stubborn. “It is our duty to keep you safe.”

“From what exactly?” Tyra asked with a smile. “Airi?”


Tyra shook her head before pushing herself up. “Airi won’t hurt me and I don’t want her to hurt you guys either. So why don’t you just try and be a little sneakier?”

The scorpion scoffed as if this were a ridiculous idea.

“I’ve got to work on my comic,” Tyra told the scorpion, though without her glasses she found it hard to make the little speck out on the cement. If anyone overheard her or happened to wander by… well, they’d probably think she was crazy. Maybe she was. Ever since that night, she swore she heard scorpions speaking to her.

The thing in the bottle was struggling. She remembered watching it. She remembered watching it and feeling such a massive stab of pain in her heart she couldn’t help it. She didn’t know it was a scorpion when she poured the remaining liquid in the bottle and the little bug into her hands as well. She didn’t know it was a scorpion when she ran outside. When her papa threw something at her. She didn’t know until she set it down on the sand, her small chest heaving.

Because the scorpion did not run away. At first, she thought it was dead. She thought she’d been too late and it had died. She could remember the sting of tears in her eyes. She could remember sinking into the sand and wailing. And then she could remember the first time in her life when an adult touched her tenderly.

The scorpion had not been dead. He had a human form. He had long hair and skin the color of the desert. He smiled at her. He lifted her chin, wiped away her tears. He said his name was Sasori. He said that she would never cry like that again. Not so long as he could help it. She had saved his life - she had saved the scorpion king’s life. 

It felt underwhelming. She had always thought that when the heroines of stories saved people they did it because they couldn’t stand to see things suffering. They did it out of kindness. She had not done it out of kindness or pity. She had done it because in her messed up life she felt like… she felt like that was the one thing she could control. Whether the scorpion king lived or died.

She chose if all scorpions lived or died. They’d followed her since that day and she’d protected them since. Every time she could, she saved a life. Not out of kindness but because… well because she could. She had the power to make a choice and so she liked choosing to do good things.

“I shall check on you again later,” the scorpion on the ground said as they always did after she told them to leave her be.

“Well don’t count on me saving you again,” Tyra said like she always did.

But she’d always save them. Over and over again.

Because she could. Because she was the scorpion queen.

May 16, 2020 03:08

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1 comment

Cassandra Durnin
16:57 Feb 02, 2021

Very creative, witty, and intriguing with a hint of humor. Well done!


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