A scream echoed in my ears, drawing my attention from the captivating scene in my book. I lifted my head, rubbing the back of my neck, as my gaze followed the scream of horror in the unfamiliar kitchen.
“Why are you screaming?” Holly, my eldest sister, yelled as she shut the front door. Everything in this beach house seemed so ancient, I winced everytime something creaked. With the mold seeping through the trim on the walls, the loosely screwed in appliances, and the squeaking doors, I’m surprised the house didn’t tumble with a simple push of the wind.
“There was a roach.” We all brought our attention to our mom, who was panting frantically as she spoke.
“Seriously?” Mikayla asked with annoyance. She was seated in the rocking chair by the door, patting her pregnant belly.
Mom flicked her head as she stared at us with heated eyes, “you didn’t see the size of that thing, Mikayla.”
“Kill it then,” Holly suggested.
“I’m not there yet,” Mom said, mentally preparing herself for the task.
“It probably scurried off by now,” I butted in.
“No,” I watched as a proud smile crept on Mom’s face, “I trapped it under the trashcan.”
Holly scoffed, “Just smash it.”
“Mom, just let it go,” Mikayla proposed, brushing off the severity of the issue. “It’s probably one of those water-bug-roaches.”
“Water-bug-roaches?” I asked, disgusted.
“They are these black roaches that show up in like showers. They’ll be crawling in the tub while I’m showering at the house.”
Holly’s mouth forms into a quirked ‘w.’ “Why wouldn’t you kill it?”
“We have a mutual agreement. It stays on its side. I stay on mine.” After a stare from Holly, Mikayla adds “Look, don’t judge until you have to deal with it.”
Mom waved her hand at this comment, shaking her head decisively. “It’s not that,” she determined.
“Okay, well you still can’t just leave it under the trashcan,” I point out.
“Your dad will be out of the shower at some point,” she shrugs. She still looks so frightened by the little bug that it’s hard to tell if she’s joking.
“Just smash it with the trash can,” Holly argued for the hundredth time.
“Then I will have a mess to clean,” Mom reasoned. “Chloe, grab the Raid.”
I move from my stiff position on the creaking pull-out couch. As my legs take their time to wake up, Mom rushes me to three, newly bought, cans of Raid on the shelf. Before I have the chance to grab one, she grabs it herself. I drop my arm and walk back to my position on the couch.
We all watch as Mom positions herself in front of the trashcan. She stretches her arms and rolls her neck. Squatting down, she quickly abandons the position and paces in a circle, rubbing her forehead.
“Mom, just kill it.” Holly impatiently said.
“Why don’t you kill it, Holly?” Mom stares knowingly at Holly’s shrinking figure.
But Holly never truly backs down. “Give me it, then.” She reaches her hand out, waiting for our Mom to place the can in her hand.
“No, you could get hurt.” Mom stated, as if Holly wasn’t twenty-two years old with a child of her own and the task at hand wasn’t killing a little cockroach.
Mikayla and I exchanged a knowing look as Mom got back into position. Squatting down, she held the raid in a readied stance, aiming it at the invader under the trashcan. With pinched fingers, she held the edge of the trashcan.
Reminding me of an ominous ticking clock scene in a movie, time slowed. My eyes bore into the bottom of the trashcan, waiting. Expecting.
Mom lifted the trash can, and sprayed.
We all watched in hysterical laughter as a puddle of Raid drowned the cockroach. It squirmed for the last seconds of its life, fighting the weapon of the insanely large predator.
Mom threw curses at the little bug as if she were a trash-talking boxer. My sisters and I buckled over in laughter.
About two minutes after the little bug moved its leg for the last time, Mom backed down. Standing out of the crouched position, Mom rolled her shoulders, her entire face the color of someone who ran a marathon. She slowly stepped her way around the kitchen, careful to not turn her back to the cockroach, as there is the absolutely ridiculous possibility of the little bug coming back to life. After the loads of poison she sprayed, I’m surprised we didn’t all become secondhand dead.
We all froze, unsure of what to do next. After all, none of us read the Dummies Guide to Killing a Cockroach. What’s the step after spraying the insect to death?
All of a sudden, we heard a door creak open. A bright light flooded into the room from the steamy bathroom. Without a second of hesitation, my sisters and I yell in unison, “Dad!”
He comes into the kitchen, taking in the sight of my frazzled mother and all of our expectant stares. “What?” He asks as though a murder did not just occur.
“There was another roach,” Mom stated, offended that he lacked concern.
“Did you kill it?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Mom smothered the thing to death,” Holly chuckled.
Dad smirked, his version of a laugh, finally noticing the puddle on the floor. “Do we have any Raid left?”
We all laughed, as our mother answered, “Whatever. I made sure that thing was dead.”
Dad grabbed a paper towel, scooped the cockroach up, and dropped it in the trash, completely dismissing the fear Mom felt.
“You see this guy,” Mom pointed a thumb at Dad as she went to set the raid down. “Come in here like some kind of hero or something.”
The can slipped through her hand and slammed on the ground, causing another creaking door to open.
“Stop!” I watch as my baby nephew comes into view, standing as though he were a king addressing his people.
My brother’s form shadowed behind the little boy. “Spongebob is on,” the king’s jester announced, explaining the actions of the annoyed two year old. My nephew wiggled his way back inside the room to resume his show, as my brother followed behind.
When the door sealed shut, we all laughed.
Mom returned her attention to disinfecting the floor, while Dad checked the contents of the raid. Mikayla was already back on her phone as she continued to rock, and Holly copied her actions, sitting in the chair beside me. Sensing the moment as coming to an end, I moved my gaze back to my book, shaking my head.
To this day, I have not found a valid answer of if an invading cockroach is more important than Spongebob Squarepants.