Beetle Catching

Written by Rigby Celeste
Art by Bruno Cervera

My boyfriend takes care of me. He texts me when he’s out of the house. Even if he plans to tiptoe into his own bed after I’ve fallen asleep, he cradles me in my room as soon as he comes home. I’ve got in the habit of eating his frozen foods. We brush our teeth together in the mornings and the nights when I neglected my hygiene all day. He always comes when I cry at the sight of cockroaches. 

My boyfriend takes care of the roaches. He coos out reassurance and grasps me when I shake. Then, he goes for the kitchen and steals a plastic cup. He refuses to kill. Gentle, he places a cup in the path of the animal and carries it out the door. I asked him once, “Don’t the bugs scare you too?” and he told me yes, but he sees the fear in my frown, so he just keeps his cool. As long as the critters don’t run up his sleeve, he’ll rescue me. Each time he crouches down, both hands shadowed beneath the sink, I hold my breath for his final catch. In that moment, I no longer fear the bug, I fear this might be the time the bug charges towards his body and teaches him fear. The odds are stacked against me. He smells like home, after all, where I know those animals are trying to go. When he is finally confronted with the same fears I have, will he stop rescuing me? If the roach runs up his sleeve, will he walk himself outside with it?

They say memory loss from your childhood is linked to dissociation through youth. I don’t have a memory. Totally out of it. My life is a collage of grey and white noise. The noise crowds and clogs my ears. It fuzzes my eyesight until I’m too scared to get out of bed. I feel the noise scutter across the walls around me, like thick black bugs in a glittering mob. The noise-bugs are boundless; I can’t walk without stepping into their swarm. So I don’t function. Don’t make meals, don’t clean, don’t create. I am afraid of living, afraid of the sadness my brain has created everywhere I look. My body and brain have given up against the glistening creatures. They’re the new residents of this apartment and I pay their lease. 

The only way I’ve found to get rid of the noise is a friend to clear it. My sweet boyfriend has happily taken on the job. He loves me when I am sad, and guides me out of my dissociation. My lovely boyfriend greets me daily with his kindness. He lets me eat his food and crawl into his bed on the nights I can’t sleep. He lives by a “mi casa es su casa” mentality. He feeds me even when he’s low on groceries, because I am too tired to make food myself. He soothes me to sleep even after late shifts, because my thoughts are always racing. He holds me all day even if he needs space, because I am desensitized to feeling anything. I cling to him with the stubborn grasp of a spider. I have made his cuerpo my casa instead. he My sweet boyfriend who stinks of tenderness has become my live-in caretaker. Me, I have become a cockroach on his bathroom floor, and on his principles he will not let me die. He told me he isn’t afraid of the bugs unless they hop onto him, but I’ve invaded him. I’ve risked him being afraid of me. And without him, I have been afraid of everything. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. 

My New Year’s resolution is very simple: This year I will function. I have been a zombie for twenty-two years of my life. I have no confidence in my functioning abilities and no practice to boot. I have little exercise over my executive function by nature of depression. Yet I don’t find the task in front of me daunting. I know exactly what I need to do. Like a new hire, I’ve shadowed my boyfriend as he teaches me necessary skills. He has done something radical; He has shown me love to teach me self-love. My boyfriend has never made me feel like the bug in his sleeve. Instead, he’s given me patience, care, and comfort, so that now I find myself with a toolkit I’ve never known. I get out of bed alone like we start our days together. I feed myself a small meal like the oatmeal he makes me on the stove. When I can’t sleep, I hold myself in the places he favors. My gentle boyfriend, my guide to life. Just as I have been riddled with shiny black beetles, he is built of patient cups and gentle slips of paper. He leaves them behind when he is gone. By now, there is enough to carry out every creature in this apartment.