“Oh my God!” My dad was panicked.
I gave him a look. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I— We— We thought something had happened.” He had his ‘worried Dad’ brow. My mom gave a nervous smile.
I bit into my banana, chewing slowly before asking. “Whhhhhyyyy?”
“Well, one of the guests from the funeral uploaded photos to Facebook and they were all of people lying on the floor on those woven mats.”
I tried hard not to laugh. “Are you Facebook stalking me?”
He didn’t miss a beat. “Yes.” Then he leaned over into the computer (like I couldn’t hear him) and whispered, “They all looked… dead.”
“Wait- what?” I shrank my Skype call and hopped on Facebook to investigate. When I found the photos he was talking about I laughed. “We were all taking a nap.” He stared at me dubiously. “It’d been a very long day,” I defended.
“Why was everyone sleeping on the floor?” His voice went back to a whisper. “It looked like you drank the Cool Aid or something.”
I laughed again. “Nope, no Jim Jonesing it here.” I shrugged, unsure how to explain this Fijian phenomenon. “Sometimes we all just nap in the living room. It’s not like there are enough beds. Plus, everyone was tired from the funeral and from eating.” I pointed my banana at him. “Did I mention we’d been up since 6 AM making sandwiches?”
He was unimpressed with my facts. This made me sad so I ate the rest of my banana to make myself feel better.
After convincing my father that I hadn’t taken part in some sort of weird suicide pact, I said goodnight, thankfully having a late afternoon with no plans (except to catch some much needed rest after previous day). I closed Talei’s laptop and laid it gently on the floor.
I was making my bed when I saw something scurry around the dresser. I sighed. Bugs here were like pigeons: no matter what you did they were everywhere.
I was actually pretty proud of myself. It’d been almost a week since I’d shuddered at the sight of ants crawling along the counters and FOUR whole days since I made a ‘bleh’ noise when I saw roaches crawling around on the buses. I considered this progress.
Then I saw Jo. “Oh,” I said calmly, only glancing at him momentarily before returning to my bed making. “Hey bud.”
Jo skittered around in reply.
I should probably clarify that Jo is the giant cockroach that lives in the guest bedroom. He’s approximately the size of an iPhone and is this hideous red color. I don’t like Jo. But Jo scares the crap out of me, so I tolerate him. Or rather, he does me. Regardless, we had an arrangement.
I promised him the first week I arrived in Fiji (and saw him creepy-crawling his way around my backpack) that if he stayed on his side of the room, I’d stay on mine. And no-one would have to scream or get squished. We shook on it… Figuratively speaking.
I think he agreed, because as far as I know, he hasn’t crossed the line of pencils I put on the floor.
This is probably a good time to mention that I hate cockroaches. Probably more than any other bug. Not only are they ugly, but I feel they are superior creatures to us and that makes me sad. How can something so tiny and hideous be so well equipped for survival? I would much rather be outranked by puppies.
I mean, not only are they armed with a giant shell, can run on two feet, fit under anything, and live in the worst conditions, they can survive a nuclear bomb. We may be larger in size but I’m pretty sure cockroaches have this evolution thing down. They are the birds with the slingshots and we are the green pigs under the blocks of ice… Well, you get the idea.
Luckily, with our arrangement, I felt pretty good sleeping in my bed. As far as I could tell, Jo was overweight and uninterested in climbing up a bed frame. (The illusion of comfort works for me, okay?)
But tonight Jo seemed a little more active than usual, towing that line between trying to freak me out and flat-out challenging me to a duel. I flailed my banana peel at him in warning. “Don’t do it, Jo. You don’t want to go there. Think of the kids…”
He considered, tapping his little ugly legs around in circles. Then he turned to face me and did something I’ve never seen any cockroach do EVER.
That son of a bitch FLEW. He flapped his giant iPod sized wings and floated effortlessly into the air, hovering like an overweight hummingbird and buzzing like the world’s angriest locust. Then he launched an aerial attack at me and my banana peel.
Naturally, I did what any self-respecting twenty-something would do…
I screamed and ran like hell.
Ro Mereani came running out of the kitchen, D’Tui fast on her heels. I jumped and shrieked and jumped and shrieked and pointed at the bedroom door.
“What? What is it?” Mereani looked out of breath and dumbfounded.
Me, of course (not understanding what she didn’t understand about this horrific moment) pointed and shrieked and pointed and shrieked.
Mereani peeked into the room and was greeted by the air assailant himself. She wasn’t fazed by his taunts. She walked to the kitchen to grab a broom. The coconut branches hit the walls with resounding whacks. I waited outside, using D’Tui as a shield until it was finished.
Ro Mereani swept out the remains of my friend turned foe. I scowled at him triumphantly down my nose.
Mereani looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “What?” I said, “I didn’t know they could FLY.”
Mereani shook her head. “This is the tropics, you know.” She put her broom away and went back to the kitchen.
D’Tui studied the dead bug and then turned to look at me. “Is Auntie afraid of cock-o-roach?”
I put my hand on my hip and tried to think of some great defense to using a three-year old as a human shield. I had squat.
D’Tui shook her head and walked away. “Auntie shouldn’t be afraid of bug. It’s just cock-o-roach.”
Minutes later, long after D’tui and Mereani had left, I shouted out to no-one in particular. “But I didn’t know they could FLY.”