Stephen del Mar
I hate winter. It’s dark when I go to work. It’s dark when I come home. Slush, snow, ice and the never-ending procession of potholes that threaten to rip a wheel off my car. I get home and I can’t even park the car in the garage. The fucking asshole I live with, aka my husband and the man I love, has filled the garage with so much shit all you can do is walk through it to get into the house. Note to self: next time I fall madly in love ask if he has hoarding tendencies.
I kill the engine and turn off the car lights. I just sit in the dark car. Hard rain pelts the windshield. Freezing rain. Tomorrow, the car will be glazed with ice and need chipping and scraping. The morning commute will be deadly. Despite the best efforts of the fleets of sand and salt trucks someone will spin out, crash, die. Yes, there will be death in the morning. But I don’t need to worry about that, because I just lost my fucking job. I don’t have anywhere to go in the morning.
I reach for the keys in the ignition. My hand is a little numb. Stress, I suppose. What are we going to do? The economy sucks and I am fifty-five; where will I find a new job? The mortgage. The house. We sunk everything into this house. Our dream of making a family. Our quarter acre in suburbia; rose bushes in the backyard and two cats by the fireplace.
I click the garage door opener clipped to the sun visor. The door rumbles over the tick, tick, tick of falling rain pellets. The automatic light of the door opener casts all of the boxes and tubs in an un-natural ghastly white light. Will we have to move? What would we do with all of this stuff? How am I going to tell him? Did I fail? Was it my fault?
I get out of the car and only slipped once getting into the garage. I stand in front of the door into the kitchen with my hand on the button to close the garage door. I look out into the blackness. The Wilsons, across the street, have their living room drapes open. They’re draping lights on a tree. Will we have a Christmas tree this year? Will we have Christmas? I push the button to close the garage door. I don’t want to look at the world anymore.
Pain. God-awful stabbing pain. Icy fire shoots up my arm. Cold, gritty concrete slams into my face. I lay there on my side. So is this it? Am I dying? Am I really going to die in the garage? I’ll be cold and stiff when Dan finds me. Dead and frozen among all of his shit. Fuck it hurts. Why was it taking so long? Isn’t there supposed to be a retrospective montage of my life? Where is the white light? Can’t I get the floaty out-of-body experience? Apparently, I can’t even get death right.
My heart is drumming. I feel like my chest is ripping open. I can’t even scream. I want to scream, to yell. To curse the world and this life while I still have some left. All I can do is look at the gritty concrete floor; why the hell didn’t we sweep more often? I don’t even think I can blink.
Something wiggles out from under one of the boxes. It’s long and skinny. It has pinchers on the end of its snake-like abdomen. It’s an earwig. I hear drumming. My heart? The bug crawls closer. I get a flash back. Not my childhood, not quite. An old black and white TV show. The sound of African drums. A doctor telling a man that an earwig had crawled into his ear, burrowed into his brain and laid eggs. He would go slowly mad as the larva ate their way out. It crawls closer, its antenna feeling the way. Pinchers in the air ready for attack. Then everything goes black.
The automatic garage door light turned off. Wind and rain pound the door. It’s getting harder to breath. Something touches my cheek and starts crawling up my face. Did I mention I wanted to scream? Did I mention I was having a bad day?