An excerpt from Peggy and Teresa’s summer release “Angry: How Burnt-Out Stepmoms Can Reclaim Their Happily Ever-After” (working title)
We heard Gretel’s piercing scream through the open kitchen windows. My husband and I stared motionless at one another as we listened to the high falsetto of a situation gone terribly wrong. The shouts of several more children on the heals of my stepdaughter’s shrieks made us jump simultaneously toward the door. My husband reached it first, tearing it open and running outside. I followed him, frantically looking around for my daughter, Sissy. I saw her running toward me and I could hear her yell, “Mom! Mom! Gretel stepped on bees!”
I watched as Gretel crashed through the trees that lined the south side of our apartment complex. My husband picked up speed as his daughter’s cries rang through the woods. She followed her screams into the open with flailing arms. She stumbled as she emerged, falling down the sloped ground toward her father. She slapped at her legs and stomach. “Get them off! Daaadddyyyy! Get them off!” she yelled in a shrill and terrified panic.
As soon as my husband reached her he began slapping away and stepping on the small, black wasps still attacking Gretel. I watched them as they preformed a frantic, violent dance together around the menacing stingers. The scene from the movie My Girl, where a little boy is stung to death from disturbing a ground wasps’ nest, borrowed itself into my brain. I turned to Sissy and the two other neighborhood children with a look of sheer horror on my face.
“Did anyone else get stung?” I asked. The tone of my voice and the look on my face made each of their eyes widen.
“No.” They assured me in unison.
“Are you sure?” I demanded as I forcefully inspected each child’s arms and legs.
“Yes, Mom. We’re positive. No one else got stung,” Sissy reassured me as she held her hands up to my face. “Gretel was ahead of all of us, so when she stepped on the bee’s nest and started screaming, we all started running.”
I turned back toward my husband and his daughter. Their awful dance was over. Gretel sat in the grass crying hysterically from the pain of the stings. My husband picked her up and carried her into the house. His face was white and his body language indicated he had no idea what to do to help his child.
“Bring her to the bathroom,” I commanded as Sissy and I followed him through the house.
I turned abruptly, which caused my daughter to crash into me as she came to a stop. I put my hands on her shoulders and ordered her to bring me baking soda and a cup.
“Oooo ok.” Sissy’s voice trembled when she spoke. “Is Gretel going to be ok?” Her blue eyes teared up.
I didn’t know if Gretel would be OK but I nodded gently as I hugged my daughter. “Everything will be fine,” I whispered. I just wish Gretel’s mom was here to help take care of her daughter, I thought as Gretel’s agonizing wails echoed throughout our home.