11 Sep Bugs
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Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
I remember being beaten. I remember being six years old and being beaten. I remember being six years old and having two broken arms with one sling that my father had lying around from when he was a boy and no knowledge of what a hospital was. Strange doodles bled through the cloth and onto the other side. It’s funny, though: I never was afraid of my father, maybe it was because beating was all I knew, and it was what I was used to, even at six years old. My father was even my hero. I used to wake up every morning and watch him strap on his prosthetic leg. Now that I think about it, I never did ask him what happened to the real one. He would beat me, love me, and beat me again- I couldn’t understand why he would throw his only daughter into a radiator, or through a wall, but I knew that if I held out long enough, he could change his mind and hug me again. He’d swing me around and lift me high off the ground, he’d call me his favorite. I remember, though, how quickly everything changed.
My father came home to me one night, I’d been eight years old and home alone all day, I never did get the chance to go to school until a year or so after he’d died. He fixed himself some dinner, and I threw together a nothing- sandwich, we ate together, on the green carpet in the doorway where he could sit on hours, just staring. Crumbs forming small piles in my lap, I swept them off and onto the carpet for the roaches. And damn me, he said, because I wasn’t supposed to feed the bugs, but he never did anything to get rid of them anyway. He stood up fast and held his hand low on the yellowing wall. With a finger to his lips, he pushed his sunken eyes in my direction. He jabbed one finger towards my door, and I remember running to my bedroom as fast as I could and closing the door, I jumped into my bed, a crib for a small toddler, but I could easily curl up between the bars and sleep. As my body hit the mattress, I could hear the end of a very loud knock.
Bugs. They crawled everywhere. My doorknob was caked in roach bodies, the bars of my bed. I stood up on the mattress, mortified from the buzzing and thousands of creeping legs. I tried hard to be quiet for my father, but as the roaches scuttled onto my bare legs, I wanted so badly to shake them off and scream. Their tiny legs lumbered up my body- my hair stood on end and I could see hundreds of shells of bugs. My torso shook, my lungs ached as I finally let out a bloodcurdling shriek. Seconds later I was shaking the bugs off of me and my door had opened, letting in a bit more light to reveal nothing. No bugs. No roach shells. No thousands of legs dragging themselves up my skin.
“What the fuck are you screaming at?” he slapped me hard in the face and I fell to the ground, still terrified of the imaginary insects that crept on my skin but seconds before, I scrambled quickly to my feet. He gave me a terrible glare, and a woman came clicking through the doorway, armed with a bottle of Raid! Bug Spray and fewer clothes than the girls come in with.
“Get your ass back out there.” he bellowed, still staring at me.
Cherry red lipstick formed a small frown and moved to protest, but her entire body turned, blonde hair spilling over her shoulders, and clicked away. He closed my door abruptly, I could hear his sneakers pad down the hall, and over the plywood that sat in front of the corridor.
Long after the noises in my father’s room had stopped, I found myself deep in bed, snuggled loosely under his only jacket. A faint crackling sound meandered into my room, under the door and planted itself in my ears. I still lay there, knowing the radio would shut itself off, the same way it’d turned itself on. Moments spent gazing up at the ceiling passed, the radio still purring, and I decided to leave the comfort of my father’s jacket to shut it off. His room wasn’t far from mine, they were right next to each other, actually, mine on the right, and his on the left. The door creaked as I pulled the knob towards my sweating body, my toes slapping on the carpet and over the plywood. My father’s door was cracked, I could see his sleeping body lie stretched across the bed, a glass bottle of god knows what beside him. The buzzing got louder. His body fuzzed the longer I looked at him. The sound no longer droned from the radio, but from the bed. He were motionless, though he hazed like hot pavement in the heat of summer. I drew nearer, and nearer in my courage, roaches jumping off the bed with my movements. The buzzing grew louder still, and I was, for the first time, afraid. They filled the bottle and covered his skin. The purring quaked my ears as I swallowed hard and took a final step toward the bed and found that the hazing figures and buzzing bodies were thousands and millions of tiny bugs, each running in a different direction, over one another and under each other’s insect shells. And my father could only sleep.
Credit To: MyNemphetamine