Sara wasn’t one much for bugs. Growing up, her younger brother’s pets of preference were cockroaches. And, not just your average, general roach. No. He liked the three inch long, one inch wide, masters of procreating, hissing cockroaches from Madagascar. He loved them so much that his initial three expanded almost exponentially overnight because he deemed it necessary to supply them with a female companion. That day in seventh grade, when one of his beloveds decided to hitch a ride to school on Sara’s lunch box was the day she decided that in her own home she would have a zero tolerance policy regarding any bug.
So, the Friday night almost fifteen years later when she went to take out the trash and noticed a slight scurrying movement under the cupboard, there was only one thing to do. She dumped the trash outside at the dumpster and returned to the kitchen, grabbing the flash flight from her desk drawer as she went. On hands and knees she inched along the cupboard overhang, searching. In the corner her eyes locked onto the offending insect. Though nowhere close to the size of a Madagascan roach, she still shuttered as she stood up, reaching for anything with which to smash it. Back on her knees, armed with a coffee stained spoon, she trained the light in the corner again. The beetle was gone. She whipped the flashlight along the floor, seeking that distinct scuttling movement.
She stood up and shifted the trashcan. There it was! Snatching up the spoon, she went for it. But, it scuttled its butt under the standalone pantry shelving just in time to avoid certain death. She tried shifting the shelving, but to no avail. The beam of the flashlight found the beetle waiting ever so calmly on the side of the shelf, its back just skimming the wall in the tiny space. Sara tried to shove the spoon in the space, but it was too fat to reach the beetle properly. The shelves simply had to be moved.
Three hours later found the kitchen in a desperate state. The pantry items, once beautifully organized, were scattered across the floor and counters. Cupboard doors hung open. Pots and pans filled the sink, their hooks empty. Sara stood in the mess, staring at the wall usually hidden by the frying pan, when it was properly hung. The beetle had vanished there. How that was possible, Sara couldn’t fathom.
In her bedroom, the clocked beeped once, signalling midnight. And then, she heard it, that quiet rustling of beetle legs walking lazily across plastic. There! On the flour bag.
Sara grabbed the metal spatula she’d used at lunch to make a grilled cheese sandwich and advanced on the bag. Her arm slashed down hard and flour erupted in a powdery cloud. The spatula came away gutless. Sara let out a little scream of frustration. Her temples pounded and her eyes burned. It’d been a long week and she had come home tired. Most nights found her asleep by this time, but that was simply out of the question now, knowing the beetle was still in the kitchen. Every time her eyes closed she could see it scuttling across her pots and pantry items. She couldn’t, she wouldn’t go to sleep knowing it was still there. And so, the hunt continued.
At two, she began to despair that it had escaped into another room. At three she nearly crushed it with her fist before it ducked under the microwave. At four she cornered it for the eighth time only to have it magically vanish again. At five she cried for a good five minutes before it stuck its head out from under the sponge in the sink then hid among the pots and pans. The pots and pans where then scattered around the kitchen, atop the everything else.
At six she decided it was time for a quick break. Sara started the coffee pot then headed to the bathroom. The beetle had managed to escape again, despite being cornered, yet again. This time a balsamic vinegar bottle had been sacrificed in the escape. Coffee was needed now to keep going. That bottle of vinegar had come all the way from Italy, imported, expensive and perfectly ruined now.
In the bathroom Sara splashed cold water on her face. Catching sight of herself in the mirror, it seemed as if she had been the one scurrying for her life all night long and not the beetle. Perhaps she could take a short break? A short nap and then she could keep going? She opened the bathroom door and headed down the hallway. Perhaps she was being silly. It was just a beetle. Some cultures believed that even bugs shouldn’t be harmed. As she hadn’t made up her mind regarding karma and re-birth, perhaps it was best not to smash it? Coffee and sleep would help her decide how she felt about that, given the circumstances.
She walked into the kitchen and around the annihilated flour bag. Treading carefully, so as to avoid any glass, she stepped over the shattered vinegar bottled and then she felt something crunch under her heel. A dry, crispy, hallow crunch.
Sara looked at her foot briefly, then poured herself a cup of coffee and watched the sun pull itself over the mountains. Hopefully karama would take into consideration that this smashing was, really, mostly accidental. Now though, she could sleep.