Sid slides the piece of paper across the counter and indicates where he needs the lady to sign.
Just your name, address and mobile number, in case we need to contact you.
Why would you need to contact me?
Sometimes there is evidence of abuse and we have to ask some follow-up questions.
You think I abused this animal.
I don’t make the rules.
You think I bought a pair of shoes and then abused this animal and then brought it here.
Sid shakes his head. He doesn’t think she did that at all and he wished he didn’t have to ask her.
It’s just ridiculous. You try to do the right thing and, well…
Sid pushes a pen to the lady’s side of the counter and she snatches it up, but she softens before she begins to write and she looks up at him with a long sigh.
I’m sorry. I know it’s not your fault.
Sid nods. His eyes dart around the room searching for something to rest upon but he is grateful for her apology, at least for her self-awareness. His eyes land on a bug on her shoulder crawling towards her neck and he reaches across to flick it away.
The lady steps back in shock.
What the hell are you doing?
Sid scratches his neck, feels his pulse quicken, the heat rise.
It was a lightning bug, that’s all. On your shoulder.
The lady’s face doesn’t soften as she continues to stare at Sid.
We get a lot of them outside, because of the woods out back you see. There’s a lake behind the Center and…
He thinks of telling her about how he likes to sit out there after his shift at the Center, when everyone has gone home and the sun is setting, and watch the fireflies dart above the water like fairies, and how it makes him feel so much better about the world, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t tell her because it would sound silly and to tell someone would spoil the act, would make it impure somehow. It is his, and no one else’s, and he doesn’t need to tell anyone.
The lady watches as the bug skits around the room.
Thank you. I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. I’m very anxious, although what am I talking about of course I know what’s wrong with me, it’s this damn presentation.
You’ll be fine.
Thank you. At least it means summer is on the way.
Sid looks at the lady confused.
The bug, she says. They are a sign that summer is coming, right?
She smiles again. It is a kind smile. Understated. No teeth. But genuine, thinks Sid, and he feels the fireflies in his stomach.
She refocuses on the form and fills out her name.