Copyright is held by the author.
ONE THING you need to understand about Miss Kafer is that she always wore orange. The first time I saw her when she retired to our quiet little village, she was sashaying down the main street in a long pumpkin coloured silk skirt. In the middle of the day, no less! Still, I welcomed her to town. It was a sunny day, just before the Fall Festival. A ladybug landed on her shoulder — first one, then another — while we chatted.
“These are good luck, you know,” she gushed. “I just love the country and I think it loves me.” In ones or twos, I thought, but just wait a few weeks.
I suggested we get together for tea sometime soon, but you know how busy we all get and weeks passed by before I saw her again. You couldn’t miss her in that orange sweater and skirt.
“There’s a tree behind my house that is solidly covered in ladybugs,” she told me. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
We were at the Post Office and everyone had a remedy to suggest, from chrysanthemums and bay leaves, to a good vacuum cleaner.
“I don’t want to hurt them,” she said.
“Just don’t let them collect in the house,” I warned, “or you’ll never get rid of them.”
So, when the children came home on Halloween night with the news that Miss Kafer dressed up like a ladybug, I didn’t think much about it. Except the kids wouldn’t stop talking about it.
“You should’a seen all the bugs,” said Sam. “The walls were totally orange!”
“And she just crouched in the corner of the porch, watching us and saying nothing,” said Susie. She buried her face in my sweater and shuddered.
Suddenly we heard shrieks as Jenny from next door ran toward us. “Help! She’s coming. She’s coming.”
The gibbous moon provided little light, but we could see a reddish-orange blob the size of a shepherd skittering down the street, dragging a pile of leaves with it.
Then came the fire. The blob stood up on its hind legs, spread its wings and rose into the dark sky. Unbelievable how fast a thing that big can move. She flew back to Miss Kafer’s house, now fully engulfed in flames, and straight through the open front door.
There was little the volunteer fire department could do and in the end nothing was left but a pile of charred embers. No sign of Miss Kafer. One odd thing I came across among the leaves the bug had been dragging was a few goose feathers.