Dear reader, do I have some harrowing news to tell you and I will, just as soon as I get over my molting headache.
What's a molting headache? Oh, it's this blinding, searing pain that grips your head like a crucible, brought on by watching your mantis fall from his perch during a molt.
What does one do in this situation, dear reader? Where is the manual for such a crisis?
Did I panic? That depends on how you define the word panic.
Did I break an emergency swear vial? No, because my daughter was standing right there.
Did I lose my head and email the guy who sold me the mantis, sending him my phone number with the injunction to contact me immediately? Maybe, but I can't recall, exactly, because everything was such a blur.
When the phone remained mysteriously silent and I realized no one was sending in the marines, did I take a deep breath and say: Charles Portis is not dying on my watch?
Yes, I did, dear reader. I did. I know when it's time to buck up and make things happen. I delicately grasped what was hopefully just dead exoskeleton, though it was hard to differentiate between old and new at that point, then I created a perch using my hand.
Yes, I allowed the mantis to molt off my very own hand.
Did it work?
It did this time.
And there was never a happier girl in the whole wide world.
Oh, Charles. We've been through some close calls, you and I.
You don't get to be good friends just by sitting around eating crickets, dear reader. You've got to weather the rough patches together. You've got to ride out the storm. And when one man goes down, the other has to come out swinging twice as hard.
That's how it is with me and Charles, anyway.
Who cares if he looks slightly pained when I tell people how we finish each other's sentences, or that sometimes I think he pretends not to hear me?
Nobody said it has to be perfect.
But his way of swiveling his neck to stare in my direction, his penchant for sitting on my hand as I write, his delicate dragon body which moves on pins and joints, how I heap unsolicited praise upon him and sometimes provide escape from the deathtrap of his old skin...you can't put a price on such moments, dear reader.
No one's taking them for granted.