How I Survived The Hornet's Nest

“Touch it.” she demanded. It was 2nd grade and I was with my friend in the bathroom and there was a dead hornet hanging from an abandoned spider web. I was shaking, scared out of my wits, stomach churning.  It didn’t matter whether it was dead or alive, I hated bees, wasps, hornets, whatever.

“Come on, I dare you.” she hissed.

Dare. A word that carries significant weight when you’re under 10.

Do it.”

I walked towards it. I tried reaching out for it, but my mind forced my arm to retract quickly. I tried it again. But I couldn’t.

So I was punished by the swift, needle-like pinch of her fingernails, yanking the skin on my arm.

Years later she asked me why I was still her friend, why I stayed, even after how awful she had treated me. I don’t know if even now I know the answer. I know I can be a pushover, sometimes too kind for my own good, reserved, compliant.  

They say the meek shall inherit the earth. With that said, the only thing I can think that kept me going was curling up into a ball, still as stone, waiting for my inheritance. 


Gretchen is an assistant editor and staff writer at Quail Bell Magazine. She also runs On The Grid ZineGo see more of her work  on her website. She dares you.