Whoosh. A whisper of wind across her cheek jolted Mona awake. As she blinked in the darkness, she felt a tickle on her forehead. She thought about turning on the light, but then she’d have to face the facts. So she lay still, her heart thumping so loud it shook the bed.
Here were the facts:
1. A cockroach just scurried across her face.
2. Yesterday, her brother, Edward, left for college.
3. Mona didn’t know which was worse.
Mona’s house was infested with roaches, like all the houses in her neighborhood were. Just that morning, a roach had dropped like a bomb from the faucet while Mona brushed her teeth. Unfortunately, the exterminator couldn’t come for another three days. In the meantime? The roaches multiplied. They scattered by the dozens when the porch light flicked on. They lurked in cupboards and shoes and under pillows and sinks.
Edward had made it his mission to search and destroy the invaders. Sometimes he stomped on them. With a sickening pop! they’d explode into what looked to Mona like tiny piles of mashed potatoes. Sometimes he whacked them with a spatula. Once, he smashed one with his bare hand, then scraped bits of mangled exoskeleton into the trash, as if scraping food off a plate.
As Mona lay in bed, imagining the roach skittering around in her room on its sticky legs, she thought about springing out of bed to get Edward. Then she remembered: He wasn’t there anymore.