By Maia Mulcahy
I live with a crazy person who won’t kill the ants that invade our room. She says she doesn’t see the point and that more will come back anyway. So she lets ants crawl all along her desk and on her and on her yellow crop top with the white dots that’s been sitting on the floor between where my bed ends and her things begin. So now I plot my murders in secret when she’s not in the room. The ants scuttle away and it’s become my personal mission to kill all of them in the short windows of time when the crazy person isn’t in the room. Fucking pacifists.
Maybe there is no point in killing them. But it’s the sense that there is something unclean that’s blotting up my sacred space. “We’re bigger than them, so why do we have to smoosh them?” she asks. We smoosh them because we must, I want to tell her. Because the ants don’t belong where I am. Because I don’t belong where I am.
The crazy person drinks Diet Coke and eats cheeseballs out of a big plastic container. She shakes the container when she eats them because she needs to pick out the more orange ones first before eating the less orange ones. She says she’s leaving the less orange ones for everyone else, for when she’ll share them with other people. I think by other people she just means me. We don’t have visitors. I eat the cheeseballs when she’s not here. I don’t shake the container when I eat them. I don’t pick them out. I just eat them. I don’t even like cheeseballs.
I killed an ant right in front of her once when she wasn’t looking. I used a receipt she left on her desk. I think she bought the cheeseballs with that receipt. She wasn’t looking at me. She barely heard my finger press down on its body and crush its bones instantaneously. There was a thrill there. The dead ant is still collapsed underneath the receipt that I left sitting on her desk.
I feel ants crawling on me when they aren’t there. I feel them crawling into my ears, deafening me. I feel them crawling through my skull and into my brain. I want to take a receipt and kill the ants on my brain, but I can’t get to them. They crawl across my chest and make it feel tight when I breathe. They make circles around my breasts and then follow in a line down my stomach.
I don’t try to kill them anymore. I am just lying on my bed, mere feet away from my roommate, letting the ants crawl through me and into me. The crazy person won’t let me kill the ants.
When she’s gone, I wait for her to come home. I only like it when she’s not here and when she’s walking into the room. The sound of a key in our door knob reminds me that someone else is here. It is me and the crazy person and the ants, the millions of ants that all mean the same to me.