Cockroaches

 “Are you scared?” 

“…Yeah.”

The affirmation falls from his lips and drenches me in darkness as I lie on his body, legs intertwined, arms hugging his waist, cheek pressed into the cold “I voted” sticker that’s peeling from the pocket of his burgundy button-up shirt. He had reached toward me and asked me to stay there, with him, instead of going to bed. 

We watch as numbers change, as probabilities rise and fall. He holds me with a closeness I rarely feel. A closeness borne of fear. We cling to each other, my fingers touching his {[hated] brown} skin, his arms around my {[hated] female} shape. 

Later, I sweat and dream, of a kitchen filled with cockroaches, little pale creatures that had blended into the floor before, but when they began to move, I could see them all for the first time. They writhe around my feet, scuttling into one another, fast and blind, and I just watch them. I just watch them. 

I wake from the roaches to the urgency of his arms wrapped around me. Then another unconsciousness, another waking, I roll over and grip his chest. Both of us there, sleeping but not resting, sweating in the cold November night. 

In the morning, I make coffee. I eat two of the cookies I’d made last night before I knew, with red, white and blue sprinkles. They are dry and unsatisfactory. My stomach sinks beneath the weight of my chest, filled with a fear bigger than my body, than this kitchen, than this house. 

I am in the bathroom brushing my teeth. He walks in wordlessly and slips his arms around me again, with softness, my head resting in the crevice between his shoulder and his neck. 

“It’s going to be OK,” he says, to me, to himself, to the fear.

“How do you know?”

“…It will be.”

Maybe. But our bodies ache and tremble in this abyss.

 

Richmond, VA

Rachel lives in Richmond, Virginia, and loves lots of things, including but not limited to: running, doughnuts, books, large sweaters, nature, sitcoms, airports, things that are turquoise, and her dog, Moses.