Setting: A typical weekday evening. Sarah and Jordan are sitting on the couch, both working on their own laptops. They have just finished dinner; a few dirty dishes sit on the TV trays before them. The apartment is quiet, until, suddenly:
“Oh my god oh my god oh my god!” I start yelling as I pull my feet up off the floor. I’d spotted something moving out of the corner of my eye, and when I had looked down I’d seen a (even just writing the word gives me goosebumps) centipede crawling, with all its disgusting legs, hurriedly across the living room and toward the couch. I continue screaming, probably terrifying Jordan, until I finally manage to yell, “There’s a centipede!” just as the thing scurries under the couch.
“Where?” Jordan says.
“It just went under the couch!”
I leap up and across the room, seeking refuge on the love seat. As I stand on the cushions, feeling somewhat safer on higher ground, I continue to yell. “Oh my god oh my god oh my god!”
Jordan, always the more rational of the two of us, begins shifting the couch around, trying to see where the horrible monster has gone.
“It could be anywhere by now!” I cry as I sweepthe rest of the apartment with my eyes; the living room, the dining room, the floor, the walls, even the ceiling.
“Calm down,” Jordan tells me. I know he hates bugs, too, and it’s times like these – when he swallows his fear to capture creepy crawlies as I go to pieces – that I know I married the right man. I remain on the love seat, starting to shake slightly out of fear and disgust. We’d never seen more than a housefly in our apartment, and now there is this centipede, so alien-looking and frightening, at least five inches long and with so many legs!
As I continue to do nothing helpful, Jordan keeps scooting he couch around.
“If we don’t find it I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight,” I say from across the room. Jordan tilts the couch back and, mustering all the bravery I can, I dash to the bedroom, grab the flashlight, and return to the living room, looking under the uplifted couch (from a safe distance) for the spawn of hell that has infiltrated our home. Nothing. We check in the boxes near the door, along the wall behind the couch, under Jordan’s sweatshirt. Nothing.
I step back up on the love seat, unable to feel safe knowing the thing was still out there. Just as I’m beginning to resign myself to a sleepless night, huddled on the love seat with a blanket over my head and constantly sweeping the floor with the flashlight like a spotlight on a prison yard, Jordan yells,
“There it is!” I look and see the ugly creature swiftly moving toward our bedroom door.
“DON’T LET IT GET IN OUR BEDROOM!” I cry, images of laundry and and an unmade bed (ideal places for an insect to hide) flashing through my mind. My adrenaline rushes as I think of the thing hiding out in the room where we sleep, and I leap off of the love seat and stuff a blanket in the space under the bedroom door. The centipede senses the obstacles and makes a surprisingly quick about-face. Jordan has grabbed a water cup from the kitchen and pops it down on top of the centipede, trapping it.
“What are you going to do with it?” I ask, watching in disgust as the thing wiggles around under the cup, its long antennae flitting back and forth as it tries to crawl up the sides.
“The same thing we did for spiders,” Jordan says. In our first place we regularly found spiders, and our default tactic was: (1) trap in cup, (2) secure opening of cup with piece of paper, (3) throw spider with all your strength, and no mercy, out the front door. “I need something stiff.” We find a folder and Jordan uses that; he carried the thing out onto the balcony and throws it into the night – off of the fourth floor. Good riddance.
After my heart rate returns to normal, I try and settle into some homework, but every few minutes I check the ceiling above my head for lurking centipedes, waiting to drop down into my hair. Every shadow on the floor is a potential threat; Jordan sees one of my bobby pins and momentarily freaks out.
The next morning I call the office, and our manager informs me that pest control will come by on Friday.
As I lay in bed today, half awake and just starting to wonder if I should call to see about what time pest control will be here, I hear a knock on the door. I throw on some clothes and let the man in, feeling slightly embarrassed over our untidy apartment. Don’t judge me, pest control man, I think as he quickly sprays the edges of each room with his magic anti-centipede spray. But I don’t care that much; whatever it takes to keep those ugly things out of our home.