“FFFUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHH—” I scream like a ‘90s grunge rocker, covered in sweat, hair stringing around my face.
But wait. Lemme back up.
I don’t ask for much. I’m a simple woman. Cup of coffee and my word puzzle at the kitchen table while my kids pack their lunches and head out the door. These days, I’m spending four and a half hours a night chauffeuring them to their various activities. I have an elite swimmer and a theatre kid, and I willingly drive them to their various practices all evening long. But in the morning, I just need my coffee and puzzle.
There I was this morning, sipping and puzzling, when I hear my son’s footsteps on the stairs. I look up, and my eyes dart to the dinosaur-sized pine beetle making its way up the wall by the steps, antlers twitching. I look back up at my son, then back down at the dinosaur. If you are unfamiliar with the pine beetles of Georgia, they look like if regular cockroaches were experimented on in a lab. The regular roach is to the pine beetle as Bruce Banner is to the Incredible Hulk.
I decide to say nothing. Teen boys are skittish colts who don’t know their own strength. If you spook them, they can rear up and punch a hole in your wall with their hooves. Elliott passes the beetle without incident, and I go back to my puzzle, planning to hunt for the critter after he leaves for school. Or not. It isn’t bothering anyone. I’m only a couple sips into my coffee at this point and unable to form a solid plan.
My two middle schoolers finish getting ready, and I walk over to the stairs to check on the status of my high schooler when I see the pine beetle, or what is left of the pine beetle.
“Elliott!” I yell. “Did you smash the pine beetle into my new carpet?!”
“And you left its guts for me to deal with?!”
“I gotta go to school,” he calls over his shoulder, leaving me with the all-you-can-eat bug buffet.
Elliott and Evie head out, and Ana walks downstairs, glancing at the carnage.
I mutter, “Frick,” then head to the laundry room for the wet vac. With a sigh of relief, I find it actually plugged in, charged up, and ready to go. Excellent. I unplug it and head toward the stairs, asking Ana to hand me a paper towel. Should probably get the chunks cleaned up before I get in there with the wet vac. She quickly hands me a paper towel. That girl knows how to read a room, and she can see me getting agitated.
I’ve had two sips of coffee and I’m only one word in on my soothing word puzzle.
I use the paper towel to carefully collect the chunks of exoskeleton and scattered legs, then I turn on the wet vac. It roars to life and I hit the button that squirts the cleaning solution, only instead of a steady spray, it dribbles out a couple drops. I turn off the vac. Sigh. It’s out of solution.
I take it back into the laundry room and hunt through the cabinets for more solution. I wince as my shoulder twinges when I reach up. I’ve slept on it wrong, or breathed on it wrong, or it just decided to treat me like its little bitch today simply because I’m in my forties.
I find the solution, open the valve, and tip the bottle into the tiny hole. It’s empty.
I squeeze my eyes together. I just want coffee and to be left alone. Why do my family, the Pine Beetle Association of Georgia, and this wet vac hate me?
I hunt in the cabinet for another bottle of solution and find one in the back. I open it and tip it into the solution holder up to the fill line. Something malfunctions and pet stain solution pours out the bottom and runs all over the top of the washing machine, down the side, and all over the floor.