Kathryn Gahl

Bed Bugs

In Healthcare, Kathryn on March 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

One morning at a writer’s colony, I awaken to bed bug bites. I count the red wheals on my legs, scratch, and then dress. There are no phones here (great for writing) so I cannot call anyone to register my dismay. I head down to the colony office, noting blue sky and green grass and soft summer wind. I am happy to be here, but bed bugs? The secretary at the office feels terrible and explains that the sheets were put on at the end of last season. She apologizes and promises to send in a housekeeper to change the sheets. Then she shrugs, we’re in the mountains. Bed bugs are nothing. Watch out for the moose. I laugh. I relax. I thank her.

When the housekeeper changes the sheets, I thank her, too. Yet that night, I think of the bed bugs. Wistfully. This is odd, ridiculous, and I puzzle over feeling a vague longing. The next morning, after a fine night’s sleep between freshly starched and ironed sheets, I wonder: could this longing be because, at night, no one nibbles? Do I miss the small advances, love in the dark playing past midnight? I think about those bed bugs. By now, they must be through the washing machine and out the hose of soapy water, splashed unto river stones or dog-paddling across a stream. I can almost hear them calling. We meant no harm, they seem to say. We were just playing and got carried away.

I squint into the bright sunlight. I am awake yet I am dreaming. I am dreaming of you with me in the morning, how I tingle, how your aliveness can touch me.

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  1. I’m not afraid of bed bugs any longer.

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