When Herb Met Meg
A small crackle came from the bush behind
Murray Hall, and then another, preceded by even more. An invasion has begun.
Everyone who lives here on this small college campus knows it happens in
the fall. The small things hatch all at the same time and swarm until they
fill every space so badly that you can breathe them in. They may be so
very cute, but when there are too many they're just plain insects, just
It was morning when it all began. Grey transitioning
into brilliant blue, this day was going to be a great day. Herb was born
that day. With a snap his little ladybug leg awkwardly poked out the top
of his egg. The wind tickled his foot. Then his tiny head popped out and
his egg rolled to the side. With a little more effort, Herb was born. He
walked around a little, getting used to his legs and he spread his wings.
Herb took a good look around. "This place
was much bigger than that cramp dark shell I was living in," he thought.
His eyes were open wide. Herb was on the soft ground and surrounded by
towering blades of grass. Climbing to the top of a blade of grass he squinted
his eyes. Herb looked up at the great structure in front of him that he
would come to know as Murray Hall. "WOW! That's millions times bigger than
me!" cried Herb. It was tall and made of brick. There were arch-like pillars
made of cement on the first level. Windows for each room went up a towering
nine floors, and lots of them were open for him to explore. This excited
"I want to see what is in those rooms," thought
Herb. Herb spread his little wings and began flapping them. He tried to
flap them faster and faster, "I can do this. Fly!" he shouted, but there
was no take off for him that day. Herb knew he was grounded until he grew
some more. And that he did, with each nibble of leaves and grass, Herb
kept growing and getting stronger. Within a short while Herb finally made
his first take-off. Perched upon a tall blade of grass, not too far from
where he was born, Herb began flapping quicker and harder. His feet pulled
away from the ground. "I'm flying!" he shouted in excitement.
As days passed Herb explored all that he could
find. He flew into trees, garbage cans, flowers, and just about anything
that was near. One day, he landed on pane of glass on the first floor window
of Murray Hall. He discovered his reflection that day. Reddish-orange he
was with eight spots of black on his back. He was flat on the bottom and
rounded on the top. Six little legs were hairy and his face was all black.
"That's me," he said in amazement. Herb lifted his front leg to wave to
himself and then he opened his wings and flew off.
One breezeless day, he found an open window
on the fifth floor and flew inside. A nice room, it had two lights on the
wall for him to buzz around. To his left he saw bunk beds; the top one
had sheets with butterflies on them and the bottom a warm afghan. To his
right was a couch with one of the lights above it. A lamp, on top of a
table, sat next to the window with plants underneath it.
Two girls lived there. And when he flew into
the room for the very first time that day he landed upon a piece of paper
one of the girls was looking intently at. She jumped taking in a gasp of
air; the little bug's landing startled the girl. Herb didn't know what
to think. He had never been so close to one of the humans before, but she
seemed kind and started talking to him. She had brown hair, an oval face,
pale skin, and a little cleft in her nose. Her eyes were a pretty green,
like the grass he was familiar with. "Hi there little ladybug," she sweetly
said as she swept her bangs away from her fair face, "I'm Melanie. Do you
have a name?" Herb tried to reply that he didn't but she couldn't hear
him. Looking at the rosemary plant beneath the lamp she said, "I'll call
you Herb, Herb the ladybug." That is how Herb got his name.
The room was nice, warm, and safe, for Herb
could come and go as he wished. The girls, Cheley and Melanie, were sweet
to him and fed him. In the room also lived a spider. Herb gave it the name
Mr. Longlegs. He made his own dwelling behind the window curtains in a
corner of the room. Mr. Longlegs was brown and very hairy. His legs stood
up tall above his body and his head was exceptionally large. He would observe
Herbs movements. In and out and all around, the thought of that fat ladybug
made the spider's mouth water. More than anything Mr. Longlegs wanted
to capture, torture, and eat Herb.
One night, when the girls and Herb went to
bed, Mr. Longlegs began his plan. Working diligently and quickly, the spider
spun a web in the open window Herb always flies through. He was so very
tired by the next morning, but he was satisfied. His plan was a brilliant
one, Mr. Longlegs thought.
When it fully became morning and the sun shone
on the lamp that Herb was laying on, Herb woke up. He stretched out his
little legs and gave a big sigh to greet the new day. Herb was really hungry,
his tummy was making all sorts of gurgling noises, but the girls were not
awake for him to take some of their food. And so, Herb decided to fly outside
and munch on a plant until they woke up.
He took off from the lamp and headed straight
for the window, he couldn't wait to feel the warm sun on his face. Getting
closer and closer to the window he spotted the spider web. Herb couldn't
stop in time; he flew right into the web. It was so sticky that he couldn't
flap his wings. His legs were caught too. Herb could barely move. He shouted,
"Help me, I'm stuck in the spider's web," but his voice was too small for
the girls to hear. Suddenly Herb heard a scream saying, "Save Me." Startled,
Herb didn't know there was someone else stuck in the web.
Another ladybug was stuck near him. She was
stuck on her side. Herb could see her back; it was much more red than his
with as many spots as his back, and her were legs flailing about. Vibrations
move along the strands of sticky thread. "Stop moving!" Herb shouted. Silence
quickly filled the air. "I'm Herb," he said shyly. "My name is Meg," her
sweet voice said, "Help me Herb, I think that the spider is coming."
Though they had stopped all movement they
still felt a series of more vibrations. They became stronger and stronger.
Meg spotted the oncoming spider. "I can see him. Please help me quickly!"
she pleaded, but there was nothing that little Herb could do for her for
he was bound. Herb heard Meg scream in terror. Her wings, trapped in the
opaque string, flapped as hard as they could. Mr. Longlegs was approaching
swiftly. He spotted Meg and then started slowly approaching her. Mr. Longlegs
raised his front leg and touched Meg's cheek. "Stop! No!" she screamed,
"Herb do something. Help me!" She begged him not to kill her but the Mr.
Longlegs was so very hungry. He slowly wrapped her up in a cocoon of silk.
More and more, with each twist her body disappeared into his web only leaving
her head outside for him to rip off. The spider stopped. Meg was waiting
for the paralyzing bite. When he was about to snap, he flew out the window.
A loud scream followed, but it didn't come from Meg or Herb.
"Yuck! I hate spiders!" Melanie said as she
danced around the room. She gave a few more high-pitched screams and then
something caught her eye. Peering into the large web she saw two spots.
She hesitantly moved her face in to see Herb and Meg. "Oh look Chely, here
is our ladybug, Herb, and look there is another," she said. Peeling away
the web, Melanie freed the two traumatized ladybugs and gently placed them
on top of the warm white lampshade. She gave them a little pieces of plant
to munch on. The two girls peered down at Herb and the new ladybug and
smiled. They watched as the two exhausted ladybugs moved in close to each
other. They greeted each other. "Meg, are you ok?" asked Herb. "Yes I am
fine," replied Meg, "but very tired. Thank you for trying to help me. I
think that you are the bravest ladybug I know." Both were very tired so
they hid their delicate, fuzzy legs inside their spotted shells and closed
their eyes. The two slept there all day, safe and cuddling together.
Thank you first to Garret Smith for having patience to listen to multiple
drafts. We may have argued but you always let me win. I would like to extend
my appreciation to Sarah Brunker, Melisse Lajoie, Lin Prisbrey, and Christina
Vogel for their exceptional suggestions and revisions. Thank you to Terry
Heller for help with ideas and making this so much fun.