It’s 2:00 am, and I’m bent over the sink, sucking mango off the stone, juice running down my forearms and dripping onto yesterday’s dirty dishes. Seventy-two moth carcasses fill the garbage can in their crumpled Kleenex shrouds. I know. I counted as I slaughtered. I’ve still got the newspaper handy, rolled into a weapon, smudged with wing dust and squidgy moth entrails, just in case I spot another winged intruder.
You hate moths. You’d scream and squeal and hide your head under the covers, if you were here. I’ve got a toque pulled low over my ears just in case, not forgetting that story you always tell about the time your uncle got a moth in his ear and had to wait four hours in the ER for the on-call doctor to show up and fish it out. Imagine the torture of that incessant fluttering working its way to your brain, enough to drive you mad.
They swarmed in after midnight, drawn by the light, I guess. I guess mine was the only one still lit, mine the only eyes still wide, mine the only head still trying to wrap itself around that peculiar loneliness, that nagging sense of trespassing in a world to which I don’t belong.
I swatted over fifty before I figured out how they were getting in. They came marching in their droves, driven by some misguided urge of instinct, up the gap between the window panes above an air conditioner that wheezed and chugged and tried in vain to lessen the humidity. I sweated and I swatted, determined not to rest until I got them all. You’d never come back if the place were infested with moths, would you?
I catch a flutter from the corner of my eye as your departing words echo through my mind and pull a kitchen chair across to climb and smack it where it lands. You’d said you’d really had it this time—had enough of being with someone who’s emotionally unavailable, pathologically repressed, allergic to feelings. I use a tissue to wipe away the traces of another solitary male in search of eggs to fertilize, the irony of which is not lost on me. They should go climb a tree.
There are seventy-three moth carcasses in the garbage can, a mango pit, and half a box of Kleenex—two that dried my brow but not my eyes. It’s 2:17 am, and I’m curled on our too-small double bed, careful not to sweat on your half of the sheets, waiting for sleep to stop my racing mind.
I never learned how to say I love you, I whisper to the empty space I’m spooning, but I know how to kill a moth.