Just a Beetle

I’ve just finished a seaside lunch of grilled fish, potatoes, and rice. As I walk back to my car from the restaurant, I see it – a little black beetle crawling across the asphalt. Something about it gives me pause; I stare at it, slightly entranced, wondering. The beetle starts to cross a stretch of the parking lot that cars take to exit. “Don’t get run over by the cars,” I tell it hopefully.

I watch with care as the first car approaches. I would very much like to put my hands up, to stop the car to make sure the beetle gets to the other side safely – but I’m almost certain the driver wouldn’t appreciate it. I just say again, “Don’t get run over.” For a moment I’m afraid, but the beetle turns away from the car’s tires. I breathe a sigh of relief.

After a short while another car comes. The beetle hasn’t made it to the other side yet. “Don’t get run over by the car,” I say. The beetle evades the front tires, and I begin to relax – too early. It starts to turn back towards me, as if having second thoughts, and disappears under the rear right tire. The car drives away.

I’m shocked and almost violently saddened, staring at the blob of beetle on the ground. I start thinking about how many little creatures must get run over by cars every day. I start thinking about how unfair it is that just because a creature is small, its life isn’t given as much notice or value. Then I wonder why I’m so sad just because a beetle got run over.

Just…

My own thoughts make me feel sick. I head back to my car, and I try not to think on the way home.

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