When the day slips away, the mosquitoes come out. And bare skin brings the bugs. Not so far in the distance, she can hear them shaking off stagnation among the cattails and she wishes wistfully that her jeans weren’t shoved down around her ankles. The buzzing comes drifting to her even over the bland and labored breath against her eardrum. The buzzing comes over the stink of Skoal spit pooling in the delicate pit where her shoulder meets her neck. The frantic beat of the winged cloud rising from their cool roost in the moist mud is loud, louder. Loudest. And the country air is clear, carrying the sound of the insects unobstructed. Aside from a fervent grunt and an echoed, half-ass, half moan. It occurs to her vaguely that they want her blood. Mosquitoes are party parasites, she thinks. They live short and drink hard, ten days to exist and to fuck and to die.
There’s a light tickling touch on her skin when they get brave enough to land below her waist. It isn’t unpleasant, but it never lasts. What she feels deeply is the sting of penetration and the desire to scratch an itch. And the fleeting fear of disease. She tries not to scratch and slap at the probing pests. She thinks of afternoons on the creek bank with a good looking felon who had the decency to keep a blanket and cold beer in his Mamaw’s wicker basket. She’s covered in sweat but not sweating. The bugs can smell it.
Misty Skaggs, 29, currently resides on her Mamaw’s couch way out at the end of Bear Town Ridge Road where she is slowly amassing a library of contemporary fiction under the coffee table and perfecting her buttermilk biscuits. Her gravy, however, still tastes like wallpaper paste. She is currently taking the scenic route through higher education at Morehead State University and hopes to complete her BFA in Creative Writing…eventually.
Misty won the Judy Rogers Award for Fiction with her story “Hamburgers" and has had both poetry and prose published in Limestone and Inscape literary journals. Her short series of poems entitled “Hillbilly Haiku" will also be featured in the upcoming edition of New Madrid. She will be reading from her chapbook, Prescription Panes, at the Appalachian Studies Conference in Indiana, Pennsylvania in March. When she isn’t writing, Misty enjoys taking long, woodsy walks with her three cats and watching Dirty Harry with her ninety six year old great grandmother.