|Centipedes are too horrifying to depict, so pretend these kittens in teacups are grotesque many-legged monsters.|
Yes, that's right. A centipede. Save your incredulous laughter until after I explain, because I promise it will be a lot funnier then. For you, that is. It still isn't super funny for me. Once upon a time in an old crumbly Victorian apartment that I share with two other people, I was the Chief Executioner of the Dreaded Centipede. The capitals are necessary because centipedes are literally just the worst. Their legs are too long and too numerous, they move too fast and they can grow way, way too goddamn big. They are the embodiment of everything that has ever ruined a person's will to live and I used to be ace at killing them. I'd stop mid-sentence, whip my shoe off and fly clear across the living room to murder one of those bastards, and I rarely ever missed. I was practically a god. What happened to my prowess, you may be asking right now, since these exploits are all clearly past tense. The truth is I have no idea what happened. I don't know what switch got flipped in my brain, or what new secretion from my amygdala changed how I respond to these abominations, but the result is still the same.
I am terrified of centipedes now. Straight up, no bullshit terrified. I think I have a phobia. So on to the "thing" that happened: the moment when I became aware of this new development. It was around four weeks ago, on a Monday night and I was just minding my own business in my own room, doing stupid stuff on Youtube and trying to convince myself I should really go to bed soon since I worked the next day. Then something moved out of the corner of my eye and I looked up. That's when I saw it. The Centipede. And he was a big sucker. And he was scurrying around way up at the top of my eight-foot-high wall, trying to find a gap between it and the ceiling to escape somewhere else. Only he was taking forever and I was freaking out harder and harder the longer he stayed up there, taunting me with his movement but never coming into the Kill Zone, AKA the area within my reach. I panicked. Really and truly, I started crying and feeling like I was gonna puke as I cringed away from him. I think I started yelling abuse at him after a while, disgusted and infuriated that he wouldn't just get the hell away from me. And then, finally, he creeped down the wall far enough for me to get at him.
Which is when I froze. I started sobbing for real and gagging and wondering since when the hell exactly was I this freaked out by centipedes, what happened to me, I used to be awesome at this! So I swallowed my horror and went for it. And missed, because I suck now apparently. He scurried back up the wall, but only just out of reach. I thought for a moment about waking up one of roommates to come help me, but that seemed pathetic and really, I could handle this. Really.
I couldn't handle it, as it turned out. I grabbed a chair from my desk, the non-rolly kind so I thought yeah, this'll be fine. I hoisted myself up, unable to control my instinctive lean away from the motionless blight on creation just hanging out on my wall. With paper towel-wad in hand I went in for the kill once more. And caught him. I thought. Until I pulled my hand away from the wall and he fell the hell off in my direction oh Christ oh shit what what where did he go....
And then I fell off the chair. For about thirty seconds I was still more concerned about where the centipede got to and there he was, on the floor scurrying away and thankfully not in my direction. I heaved a sigh of relief. Which is when the pain finally set in. Evidently I had tried "stepping" off the chair, and I say that in quotes because it clearly didn't work out too well for me. The second the ball of my foot hit the floor my ankle gave out and rolled under me. In retrospect it's pretty lucky I fell the way I did. Too far of a lunge backwards and I probably would have knocked my head on my desk which was, oh, right directly behind me. That's the second time now I've fallen over in this narrow-ass apartment and managed to avoided braining myself. Hooray? Anyway, I sprained my ankle pretty bad and I was sort of stuck there where I fell, hyperventilating and trying not to vomit for real because my roommates were asleep and hadn't heard me fall and I was too far from my phone to call for outside help. Obviously all that got resolved and in reality it only lasted about fifteen minutes before I could drag myself back to my bed, but it felt like an eon while it was happening.
It has gotten a bit better since then, I can walk sort of okay now, but only ever with a brace and I still use one crutch if I have to go any kind of long distance. The main concern right now is the fact that my toes are kind of wonky and don't want to function correctly. They don't really hurt, and they never got super swollen they just...seem to have forgotten how toes work. It's annoying. Tomorrow I'm going to cave and get an X-ray, entirely too late into my recovery period but I have issues coping with stress and apparently the only way I could get on with my life was to just keep pretending it "wasn't that bad," which is a practice espoused by my father, the man who has had four different knee surgeries before the age of 60. But I managed to shave my legs in the shower today for the first time in four weeks and I walked to my neighborhood Starbucks without any crutches so, y'know. Little victories and all that.
But that centipede is of course still out there. Lurking. Watching. Waiting for the perfect moment to emerge from the ceiling and fall in your hair oh god run run kill it with fire!
It's only a matter of time...