Saturday, December 18, 2004
Seven By Ann Graf
There are six of us who live in this house, my husband and I and our four children. There are seven in this house who use the upstairs bathroom. The aforementioned six splash water all over up there, leave wet towels, hair, particles of dead skin, slices of toenails and fingernails and assorted germy globs of toothpaste lying around. Number seven recently left a leg in my towel. As I was to discover a day later, number seven has enough legs that losing one could hardly be cause for alarm, at least no alarm to him or herself. It has caused a certain amount of alarm to me and to the two girls who use this bathroom in the middle of the night.
I used the bathroom a few days ago, washed my hands and turned to the left to wipe them on my yellow towel hanging on the back of the door. I noticed what I thought was a hair peeking out around the side of the towel, a black hair about one and a half inches long. I was about to pluck it off into the garbage and got within inches of doing so when a sudden chill spread down my spine. This supposed hair was a bit too straight and upon closer inspection, jointed. I gingerly pushed the door open with my foot and eased past the towel, hands moist, but not from the washing I had just given them. I went all the way down to the basement and asked my husband to come up and have a look. As far as I knew, there could be a body and tens of matching legs on the other side of that towel and I wasn't going to be the one to deal with it.
My husband came up and took a look, no anxiety at all evident in his manner. He flipped back the towel to reveal just the one leg and the ensuing release of air from all three females now gathered whistled through the hallway, followed by a chorus of, "Ewww, gross!" I looked carefully at the leg before my husband removed it with a tissue. How in the world did it get there? And more importantly, where the hell was the rest of it? I remembered that old joke, "What's worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm!" I was soon to find out.
The next evening before bed, I was sitting in the bathroom doing, well, you know, and sort of staring at the green and white tiles beneath my feet when the answer came to me in a flash. A flash of brownish black that raced out from beneath my feet to the right, along the threshold of the door and off into the old blue shag carpet of the hallway. It ran toward the outside wall behind the large piece of homemade furniture that used to serve as a diaper table and was now a catch-all for shoes, toilet paper, and assorted other essentials that wouldn't fit in our tiny bathroom. The resultant chill was much larger and far reaching this time, not just my spine, but my entire body froze in horror. I managed to finish what I had been doing and with bare toes curled into tight balls I ran myself into our bedroom and got my husband out of bed to hunt it down and kill it.
The vacuum was still in the hallway from the girls' afternoon attempt at cleaning their room so he plugged it in and went at it. He did the general area in front of the bathroom door and then yanked the storage unit thing away from the wall without the slightest hesitation. I jumped back and then cautiously leaned over to look behind it. There was a lot of junk back there that had fallen down over the years, a few legos, a pencil and a candy wrapper which he reached down to pick up with his bare hands, imagine! He then ran the vacuum over the revealed carpet and used the attached crevice tool to get right along the wall. This part was rather enjoyable to watch, my husband cleaning and using the crevice tool and all. Wow. I almost forgot my fear, but then he asked me to come near and help him move the furniture back against the wall. I quickly snapped out of my reverie and gingerly approached on my little curled up toes and we lifted the piece back into place, exactly matching up the pressure marks in the carpet with the furniture legs.
I wanted to leave the light on in the bathroom all night, but my husband snapped it off and grumbled back to bed. I followed him quickly, figuring he had just cut a trail through the carpet that had scared off anything nearby and I should follow as closely as possible. I lay there in the dark, trying not to think about anything in particular, especially my bladder, which through all this excitement had filled up again faster than usual. No way was I going in there! I waited as long as I could, and after about ten minutes, made my way back into the hallway, turned on the hall light and went downstairs to the small half bath outside the boys' bedroom. I would do this once more before dawn, in between tortured dreams of centipedes. I saw centipedes on our bedroom walls, groups of centipedes coming out of the outlets, streaming across the carpeting and entering from outside through the open window above my desk. There really is an open window above my desk and this fact began to concern me during my waking moments. I could not get up to close it because I would have to walk on our carpet to do so, and my anxious body was hot enough already that the breeze coming in through this window was much needed.
I finally rolled out of bed the next day around 9am when my father stopped over to pick up his hedge trimmer that I had borrowed weeks ago and never returned. My husband had taken all the kids somewhere and let me sleep. I felt rather groggy and sleepy, but managed to fish the hedge trimmer out of the garage, explaining my tense evening and lack of sleep, embarrassed to be found still in bed at so late an hour. My father just listened and smiled.
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