Mandy came down from putting the baby to bed and looked over at David with a frown on her face.
‘It’s not like they get a choice though, it’s like, one of them ‘cultural imperative’ things!’
David looked up from the magazine he was reading and gave her a scathing look.
‘Are you still goin’ on about that!? And “cultural imperative”? What on earth are you talking about? They’re insects, they don’t have a bloody culture!’
He went back to his magazine, shaking his head. Mandy wandered over and snatched the magazine from his hands. She closed it theatrically in front of him and slapped it down onto the coffee table.
‘Well, a natural imperative then, or whatever it is. I’m just saying that the female ones have no choice but to bite the head off the males. It’s the only way they get pregnant.’
David opened his mouth to speak, but Mandy continued to talk.
‘And then even with their babies, it’s the mother’s instinct to protect them. I’ve seen nature programmes where a male Lion just abandoned a cub when it got injured. It was awful.’
‘I think you watch too many bloody nature shows, you’ll be wearing a loincloth and yodelling next. It’s just survival of the fittest hun, “The Law of The Jungle”. Why are you so concerned anyway?’
‘No reason, just making conversation.’
Mandy plopped herself down on the couch beside David, leaning away from him as she continued her train of thought.
‘But it makes you wonder though, doesn’t it? About their evolution? Like, what kind of thing in its life makes a creature decide the best way to conduct a relationship is to bite off the chaps’ head? Or leave the kids behind? Maybe they met your ancestors, eh?’
David feigned looking hurt and gave her a playful tap on the arm with his fist.
‘You’re skating on thin ice now, I’ll bite your bloody head off!’
Mandy made evil eyes at him jokingly and pointed to his crotch.
‘Yeah? Well it’s that head you should be worried about, mi lad! You’d soon cry if I bit that off.’
David winced, sucked in breath through his teeth and held up his hands.
‘Alright, point taken. I know what you mean though. I suppose they just do it for survival’s sake. Same with leavin’ their weak kids behind. As I said, “Law of The Jungle”.’
The room went quiet then as they both sat there together, lost in their thoughts. Mandy was frowning and as David leaned over to pick up his magazine again, she spoke.
‘I suppose they’d do anything to survive. Most animals would, wouldn’t they?’
‘All animals would, love. When it comes to living or dying, there’s no middle ground. It’s kill or be killed; live and let die.’
Mandy considered his reply for a moment and then looked at him.
‘Would they put their survival above their own kids, do you think?’
‘Yeah’ He replied ‘I think they probably would. Why, Mand? What’s this about?’
‘Oh, nothing. It’s ok.’
Upstairs, the baby started crying again.