I begin cleaning the house. This is familiar. This is how it starts: bed by nine, up by dawn, organize the house, rearrange the altars. If I had more time, I’d scrub my house from bottom to top, each corner, each piece of dust with bleach and lemon oil. I’d do nothing but mop the hardwood, make the bed until the sheets are stretched so tight you can’t just hop in, you have to peel them away, sheet by sheet like a hotel. Pillows to match. The toilet would be porcelain white, the sink and tub too. My house would smell like nothing or sometimes Pine-Sol when I’m out of time or sometimes lemon oil. Incense when I’m in the cleanse. The basement would be organized into perfect squares with everything labeled.
I don’t want to think about home: the way the black dirt had caked and lined the fridge like it was part of the linoleum now as I watched with my fly swatter, beckoning the snake to stay still. It’s deference not quite apparent until it it poked it’s tongue out, tried to slide from behind the fridge and I worked it back into that corner waiting for a plan to materialize. There have been many snakes in my house but this was the first time one had the intrepidity to climb up my mother’s nightstand in the middle of the day. The cricket legs still live in corners and I’m always back at certain places; when Pepper, my beloved dog, ate the jumping spider cricket the one night I let my friends in for a sleepover. That night, the jumping cricket appeared.
“It’s technically called a Humpback Cricket,” I boast.
We sprayed it with Hotshot and watched Pepper eat it. I hugged her around the neck, kissed her head, told her she was brave. We watched her for signs of nausea, the event bonding us to her. Even Megan who said we didn’t take care of her enough or always talked about how my shorts were wrinkled or I needed to clean my nails more.
“Her nails are so long they clacked on the pavement!” she said.
She would meet me at the bus stop every day, sneaking out of the backyard between a slip in the fence and walk to the corner. I loved her so severely, her parting ruptured me, still does. She’s why I doubt my sociopathic self diagnosis. Her and Genevieve. I began taking her for walks after Megan said that though. Maybe we were inefficient people or maybe everyone else is an asshole with nothing better to do than tell everyone their expectations, whistled I, the kettle.
“We get them all the time.’
These were my neighborhood friends, not my school friends. My school friends would never be allowed to set foot in my house. No matter how many sleepovers in their three stories I attended, there was no way. My neighborhood friends didn’t mind the smallness of my house, the bugs, the animals, the lack of charcuterie and preparation for tonight. I don’t want to think about home. I bend down to get behind the corner of the lamp and I notice a giant cricket swathed in web and a lot of little balls next to it. There is a hole in the brick and I step away with reverence.
“This corner is yours, spider. Happy hunting. Please stay in the brick.”
I don’t want to think about it but it’s all I think about it. All the little deaths sometimes mean something.
“the act of naming things”