When the wasps were dead for certain, you emptied the jars into the shallow lid of a shoe box and snuck the bodies upstairs to the attic window, where they’d dry in the sun and the tindery heat. Even after they had become dried and hollow, it was hard not to be somewhat wary of the bigger ones, still sleek and dangerous looking, if you forgot that they were dead inside and had started to blanch in the sun. The wasps looked the same dead as alive: you could be fooled by their sci-fi armor into treating them more warily than they deserved. That was why, when you slipped one of them into your mouth and the wings and legs dissolved and you silently rolled the hard skeleton over your tongue, you were swallowing fear itself.

That was the trick, their only trick: from the outside they looked the same dead as they had alive. That was why, when you slipped one into your mouth and the hard body rolled over your tongue and kept you silent, you felt strength in your quiet. You could’ve sat and pushed the wasps around the box top with the end of a pencil until Judgment Day and they would never have come back to life. And there was a mystery in that.

You picked them up by the wings with the tips of your fingers, carried them in the cup of your palm; they weighed absolutely nothing in your hand. And you placed the best of them into a white Sucrets tin and carried the tin with the wasps in your back pocket to deliver strength.