The Resiliency of Cockroaches

1) Cockroaches can climb walls.

I could feel the crackle. My knuckles pierced the round rim of the cup, my shoulder driving the bottom deeper into the shower floor. Grind. Crack. Geez. I was naked and it was night and I was sick of the cockroaches.

I stared up, craning away from the ugliness under my hand. The ceiling was blank and a sad variety of off-white. I traced the cracks in the paint and tried not to think about bugs. The air was chilly and smelled mustily of coconut shampoo and dried water. There was mold on the back wall.

It had been a minute—I rolled my head back to the cup and, with a final halfhearted twist, I lifted it up. The cockroach was still and unchanged, surely it was dead; I nudged its side with the cup to make sure—it zipped across the shower and halfway up the wall in a flurry of spindly legs.

Jesus Christ.

I dragged myself up, knees cracking into place, and there it was, at eye level. It was a sight of a creature, its back divided in two wing-like structures glistening a translucent chestnut hue. Its antennae, thin and shapely, were nearly as long as its body—spread from its nubby head in a wide angle, wavering calmly along the tile. Its legs were bent at an angle that suggested a supple strength against the ground; spiky protrusions sprouted out at regular intervals. The bug was as big as my palm.

As I stared at it, my heartbeat lost its vigor and I felt something drain. The rage, maybe, at something so disgusting crawling inside me, an intruder, stepping in the places that I thought only knew the soles of my feet, giving the bacteria of the world free rides to my most intimate corners. But the cockroach was so serene, testing the ridges in the tile with the tips of its antennae. It was almost beautiful. I couldn’t do it. I bit my lip and left; by the time my dad came, it was gone.


2) Cockroaches are invincible.

The next night, it was a blurry flash of brown when I stooped over to pick up my laptop. For a second, I considered using my Macbook Pro to obliterate it, the creepy-crawly thing, terrified and terrifying as it waved at me from behind my bed. It had lost its bathroom-lights aura—it was miserly, taunting, covetous, greedy. It was in its niche.

The slam of the metal candy tin on carpet echoed downstairs. My heart boiled over. I twisted it into the ground, grinding it down, breathing heavy. I would kill the thing. I wanted it belly-up, squashed, a pulp, for shoving my weakness in my face.

I was sure it was dead. I lifted the box for a final smash. It bolted under my bed and kept on running. I chased it, wielding my Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark, a cry rising at the back of my throat. Slam, miss. Slam, miss—it darted underneath my dresser and I pushed an old music binder under and out it came. Slam, it scurried back under my bed and as I crouched down, it was gone.

I realized, as I pushed the binder into the crevices of my room, that my teeth were bared.


3) Cockroaches live forever.

I reached for my toothbrush and it walked leisurely across the counter. It delicately curled its right antenna to its head. I grabbed a bottle of astringent instead and my cry bubbled out—thunk, thunk—and it flopped belly-up in my sink, its gnarly insides yanked an inch to the left of its exoskeleton. It was flattened and stock-still; but not its two front legs.

I watched them for a long time. They waved, one after the other. Around and around, up and down like they were trying to run away—like a marionette, up and down, their tapered spikes and angular slim, they beckoned to the rest of its dead, dead body, come on, what are you doing, get up, they didn’t understand so they kept on waving in the absence of wind and reason. In the middle of the scattered parts, two dark tendrils in the huge whiteness of the sink, they waved and waved. They did not stop. Up, down, up, down, trading futile places. They would not stop. I bit my lip and shut the door.


Deus te benedicat,

Isabella – 6/7/16


One thought on “The Resiliency of Cockroaches

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