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Ordinary Life of the Insect Collector, a YA mystery novel by Katharine
It’s only spring, but because it’s a clear day and late afternoon, it’s already hot. The sun casts a shadow in front of me as I crouch on the ground over the creature. My friend Liza sighs, for the second time, and fusses around next to our bikes. She’s getting impatient, but I don’t care. I can only focus on the insect.
“Bea, can you please hurry up?” Liza calls. “Some guys are coming down the street— they look like college kids, and I would rather not come off as a total freak, okay?”
“Nice, Liza,” I answer, “that is really a phenomenal way to treat one of your closest friends. If you don’t stop, I’ll wait until they’re right next to us and make myself look even weirder.”
“Is that even possible?” Liza says. She knows it’s no use: I’ll be ready when I’m ready. “Seriously, though, they’re cute,” Liza adds with a whine, dragging out the “u” in cute.
We were biking home from school when I insisted on stopping at the lot. It’s a sandy area, surrounded by a chain link fence, with a few patches of grass. The lot is completely undeveloped, which is almost unheard of around here. It’s technically private property, but everyone in the neighborhood uses it. There are often people throwing balls to dogs, or a few college kids hanging out and smoking cigarettes. I like it because you can find bugs you wouldn’t see in other places, because of the open spaces and sandy soil.
When we arrive, I put the kickstand down on my bike and walk back and forth across the sandy areas as Liza and I talk. I make my fourth pass, it’s going to be my last, and then I spot it: the cow killer.