From the tender age of four-years-old I wanted to be an archaeologist - or more accurately, someone who found dead things, buried them and then feigned surprise when I found them with their buggy feet in the air in the dirt. It was either archaeology or I was practicing to be a serial killer. My mother, patient woman that she is, watched from the kitchen window as her fourth child scoured the yard (and neighbor's yards) for anything that wouldn't run too quickly away from chubby hands such as worms and dolls. Off to the sandbox or garden I'd scurry like a pirate ready to bury her treasure, sidestepping the swing and trucks littering the landscape, and ready to burrow. At home this didn't turn many heads but it was more challenging at the playground.
"Mom! I found a bug! It's dead (squish), see?"
My mother, knowing what was coming next but not wanting to alarm the other parents would nod and give me the eyeball treatment where she'd wiggle her orbs in a desperate attempt to talk me out of creeping out the other children, while she smiled.
"That's great, Stacey. Why don't we go on the slide?"
"Pfffff." I would run off, looking for the right sandy soil to give it a proper burial. "Mom! Get me a stick! I can dig a hole right here next to this dog poo!" My mother, looking properly mortified would move me away from the offensive spot and distract me into the sandbox.
"Let's make a sand castle. See? Take the bucket, fill it with sand and.... Stacey, get the bug out of the castle."
"But Mom, I can just dig it out later. Then we can take it home and I'll bury it there."
"Let me see what other toys we can find, stay right there." The poor woman crossed the park to our car to check the trunk. I could see her arms flapping and her mouth moving as she practiced what to say to the psychiatrist when they finally drug me in for treatment. By the time she'd returned, she found me happily patting sand inside a plastic bucket.
"Look, Stace, I found a shovel and a... what's that poking out of the bucket?"
"It's a head." Barbie's face didn't betray the indignity of being buried with bug bits up to her neck in sand. Her blonde locks streamed out beside her in a pinwheel of tangles as I carefully combed them clear with my fingers.
"I think it's time to go home," she said with a sigh. With a nod to the mommies that had inched away from us, we gathered up our toys and headed for the car while she mentally mapped another park for future use. We were running out of sand.
Stace is still digging up old things though now she's focused on ghosts and zombies than bugs. She is the author of two books to be released Spring 2012: Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) and Zombie Tarot (Quirk), and a published short story writer. Please visit her website, facebook page and on Twitter at @staceyigraham.