I told her about my immense, terrible, illogical fear of insects. One day, I said, it was one of my elementary school days, my life was phenominally fucked when a classmate saw a tiny moth flew at me. I was too young. I couldn’t control myself. I totally freaked out.
The next day, my whole class knew about it, and I almost stopped going to school. I would walk into the room, to my desk, and there it was, a dead white moth lying on the wooden surface. Sometimes it wasn’t even dead yet. Sometimes they would walk up to me with their hands balled into fists, and they would tell me that they had some gifts for me. I was skeptical, so I didn’t open my palm to recieve the gifts. Sometimes, they would open their hands to show that it was indeed empty, and call me a silly girl. Sometimes, when I would not yield my hands, they would just dump whatever insects they’d managed to obtain onto my shirt or skirt or bag. I would scream, and it would start all over again.
“I really wanted to just quit and change school, every single day was hell to me. The fear never disappears, no matter how much exposure I experienced.”
“That was awful.” She looked really upset.
“It got better when I got older. Some kids started to realize that that was a horrible thing to do, but that habit sticks. When people offer me their balled up fists, I can’t give them my open palm anymore. I have this vision in my head that when they finally open their hands, a small harmless bug will fall out.”
She listened. “Wait here,” she instructed, and got out of the room. I could hear her heavy footsteps in the hallway, as well as the sound of my own heartbeat. When she came back, she had one fist held in front of her.
“I have a gift for you,” she said.
My heartbeat sped up. In my head I saw that hand open and a lady bug come out, but when I looked from that proffered hand to her face, the image vanished. I could see that this was important to her, as much as it was to me. I gave her my open palm.
She smiled, and released whatever she was holding. A small something fell out.
When I saw what it was, I laughed, my heart pounding. This time not with fright, but with delight.
“How was it?” she asked.
“Thank you.” I stared at the thing in my hand. “This is why you’re my favorite.”
She shrugged. “I’m great, I know.”
I laughed again.
She gave me a fucking honey star.
(The next time she offered me a fist, I positioned my hand under hers in an instant, palm up. Maybe I was like a dog that way. No one could blame me though. Honey stars were very good.)