“Turn that shit OFF!” she cries, and I do, as fast as a reflex.
A moment goes by where we just stay still, both of us shocked and startled by what happened.
“Sorry,” Marnie mumbles at last. “My…eyes hurt. Allergies, maybe.” She turns towards me from her nest of blankets on the couch, her mouth turned down at the corners. “Sorry, Jessica.”
I tell her it’s fine yet I can’t help but notice how it seems like she’s faking that look, like she’s trying to form her face into the expression the way an alien would after studying tapes of human emotion.
I tell her it’s fine but it’s not, not really, I think she’s starting to crack under the pressure of her unemployment so I go quietly to my bedroom because I can’t stand to spend the rest of my night in the dark next to her.
Tomorrow, I think, I will talk to her about her state of mind. I’ll see how she’s feeling, and maybe we’ll go to lunch. Marnie may be a handful but Marnie is my friend, so we’ll figure this stuff out together. But that’s tomorrow. Tonight I need to get some rest. I close the bedroom door behind me and settle into bed with my Kindle. I try not to notice the skittering sounds of roaches in the walls.
I check my phone for a text from Landlord Jack but there’s nothing. I type “EXTERMINATOR NOW” in the message box, then erase it. I don’t like confrontation, not even over the phone, so I give myself one more day. If he hasn’t fixed this by Sunday, I’ll really let him have it.
I wake up late on Saturday. Way later than normal but I’ve missed too much sleep these past few weeks so it feels good, like I got what I needed over the course of a single night. I stretch, crack my neck, and abruptly freeze in place when I spot the long parade-line of cockroaches marching across my bedroom floor, following the trim against the wall like a beaten path.
I resist the urge to scream and instead turn on the lamp next to my bed. All at once they scatter, darting in every direction like a firework exploding in the sky. Within seconds they’re gone, hidden under the bed and in corners and behind the closet as though they never existed.
But they did, because I saw them, and I’m sick of this bullshit.