Cockroach

Last Tuesday I had to stay two more hours at work to compensate for my late arrivals last week. It didn’t bother me though, my boss wasn’t there and then, I decided to dedicate myself to seeing old photos on Facebook and reading news on the internet.
The stock market had gone down but the dollar had gone up. I didn’t get why; I asked Tom, who studies finance. He explained it to me with some graphics that he drew in a notebook that he had given him for the last student’s day; By the time he had finished, I was no longer interested.
I read an article about the killing of a forty-three-year-old woman in Rosario after she had “sex without consent”. Society is wrong, and I am quite convinced that it is largely because the media is fucked up. There should not be such a thing in the vocabulary as “sex without consent”, it is insane. It is rape. There are sex and rape. To say it in another way makes it seem like two related facts. “Falling with style” only exists in Disney, in real life, you’re flying or you’re about to smash the ground with your forehead.
On the subway, Alejandra called me; I couldn’t hear anything, probably because of the signal, the lack of it, I mean. So the call was over in less than fifteen seconds and I had not guessed a word of what she was saying. Meh.
When I got to the apartment I had to throw myself to the floor because Milo pounced on me. After the routine of kisses and paws on my stomach, he let me get up just to pour water in his bowl, after drinking it, as a child drinks a Coke with an addict frenetic look; he pushed me down again.
It was not right there lying on the floor, something was missing: dog smell, dirt. I looked to the right, next to the sofa. There was nothing, no pee, no poop. All clean. Anything.
While I was hopelessly looking inside the fridge, I called Alejandra; if there was something new… but no, it was also clean. I heard the answering machine so I hung up. I do not like talking to machines during non-working hours. (It’s not that I like to do it at all, but if someone pays me it’s not that terrible).
If my aunt had come over the refrigerator would have been full, instead of that, I had the red pepper from two days ago and the half-dried lemon of three years ago. Ever since Julian isn’t with me I forget to buy food, among other things.
I fed Milo, who was sniffing me more than usual. —And if there is someone in the closet?— Like in horror movies. I thought someone could be hiding somewhere in my fifty square meters. Maybe he was under the bed, or at the toilet, behind the bath curtain. Waiting for me to go to sleep and then go and kill my dog and after forcing me to see that tragedy, he’d practice sex without consent.
That was going to say in the newspaper.
“Tragedy in Villa Crespo: A man killed her dog and then, he had sex with her”
I couldn’t let that happen, nor letting some freak kill Milo, neither leaving Juli without a mom forever.
By the time I realized it was just paranoia it was too late; there was no benzodiazepine that would work. I was already convinced that someone was in my house and was waiting to be able to get a front page in tomorrow’s newspaper.
I screamed because I was scared and I grabbed the broom (actually I just grabbed the stick because the broom, properly speaking, came out before I finished picking it up).
Before entering my bedroom I stirred the air with the stick and repeated the movement under the bed. I was seriously hoping to hit something; someone.
I stood in front of the closet and watched as a DVD of my life passed in front of my eyes.
At some point, I liked wearing rose and hated carrots.
When I was five years old I almost drowned in Córdoba and at nine I fell down from a tree and broke my left leg. Or was it the right one?
At fourteen I used to wear a lot of makeup, LIKE A LOT.
At nineteen I had a discussion with my mom for the last time.
At twenty-one, I met Fermín.
At twenty-five we had Julián.
At twenty-nine I went to rehab for the first time.
The DVD stopped.
I grabbed the framed picture with the four of us when we went to Patagonia: Fermín is grabbing me by the waist while I’m holding Juli, whose mouth is stained with raspberries, and is giving one to Milo who is standing in two legs to reach Juli’s little hand.
My closet has sliding doors; I only moved the right one a few centimeters. Enough space for the stick to get in, too little space for something-someone to jump out without giving me the time to run away with Milo
I screamed very loudly, to warn my neighbours, before stabbing the first jacket.
I took a deep breath, before doing it again. That time was a jean shirt the dead one.
Nothing, again.
There was no air or reason to believe that there was ever someone under the bed or inside the closet.
There were no longer reasons to be afraid, but I was more afraid than ever.
I took Milo and the photograph out for a walk. The street seemed like a better place, a safer one, for sure. I met the doorman in the corner, he asked me if it was okay because he had heard a scream and thought that it was coming from my apartment.
I said yes, that it was fine but that the building had to be fumigated: I had seen a cockroach.
While I was putting the poop in a little plastic bag, I thought about that. In shit. Shit. The doorman heard me and didn’t check right away if I was alright. I could be dead if there had been someone in my fifty square meters. The doorman would have liked to speak in front of the cameras, saying what a good neighbour I was. “Clueless, but friendly, the girl from the fifth”
Friendly my ass, disgusting human being, that asshole thought that something could have happened to me and still, didn’t have the will to knock on my apartment’s door.
I never lend him a roll of toilet paper again, I thought. And I never did.
When we came back inside I was afraid of the shower and the hands that could come out from the toilet. So I went to sleep dirty and very eager to pee. I felt like calling Fermín, to know how Julián was; I didn’t; perhaps filling the void with fear was a twisted, yet valid mechanism of defence.
I cuddled with Milo in bed and thought about the last argument I had with Fermín; he reproached me that I had to grow up and stop bothering him. That I had to understand that I was not as important as I would like to be; that seven years ago we had a kid and he is waiting for another one on its way. And it was killing me the fact that I did not have a clue how to move on, anxiety has always been around. At the same time, I understood that learning to handle not knowing with some peace of mind is also growing up. It was the best thing I could do now.
That night I needed someone to make up monsters in order to force me to sleep early. Or was it that cynicism that we parents have? When we like to scare our children a little in order to have an excuse to steal a hug from them. It’s been a year since Julian believed any of my stories, but he lets me hold him tight anyway.
I realized understanding that the doorman had two daughters to worry about before getting worried about me, a woman in her thirties, who lives on a fifth floor, believes convincingly in the possibility that a two meters man fully covered in hair, with six legs, is hiding in the closet, even after checking that there was not even a foreign hair on the clothes.
Learning to control the intensity of what I think was the challenge. Being able to figure out why I invent monsters was a part of the process. To miss and shout that I’m missing, to return to the known so I can start again, was a part of the mourning.

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