“I didn’t hear you scream last night,” I cut in before I can hear what the sticky stuff is for.
Marnie stops and frowns.
“No.” Distraction successful. I peel a banana and scarf it down, hurrying as usual. I’ve been getting less and less sleep since we first noticed the disgusting bugs but you bet my boss is sick of my lateness and won’t take roaches as an excuse. I dump the peel in the trash can.
“I’m pretty sure I screamed, Jessica,” Marnie says thoughtfully, staring at the half-eaten granola bar in her hand. “I felt it right next to my head, next to my face, and I screamed and swatted it away.”
I’m already tugging on my shoes and halfway out the door. I tell her fine, she screamed, whatever, I don’t care, goodbye, have a good day. Then I’m down the hall and on the way to my car, away from Marnie’s steadily irritating voice and the sound of cockroaches moving in the shadows that I’ve come to fear is constant.
When I get home from work it is suddenly, jarringly clear that Marnie didn’t leave the house today. She is sitting in the living room, all the lights off, watching what must be the National Geographic video she mentioned earlier on our television. Wrapped in so many blankets – what looks like all the extra blankets in the apartment – she’s barely visible, a Marnie-shaped lump. Her knees are pulled up beneath her chin and she’s staring, slack-jawed, as roaches blown up to gargantuan size trundle back and forth across the screen.
“Marnie?” I say as I kick off my shoes at the door. “Did you look for work today?”
“Couldn’t,” she says simply. This one-word reply is strange for her but I’m wondering if she feels bad about skipping out on job-hunting so I push further.
“No paper,” she says, gesturing with a limp hand towards our printer. “No résumé because we’re out of…paper.” The whole time she’s staring at the television. Her face is lit up with this creepy blue glow and she reminds me of one of those kids whose parents never make them go outside to play.
Marnie’s been out of work for a while now. I think it’s starting to get to her. I tell her it’s not a big deal, not really, but I can’t support her for much longer and I’m pretty sure she knows that.
It’s Friday and I don’t want to think about this stuff right now. I just want to relax. I drop my purse on the couch. My eyes aren’t adjusting to the darkness of the apartment, so I reach towards the switch and flip on the living room light.
Marnie lets out a shriek that sounds like the cats that mate in the alley outside my bedroom window at night.