To the Creature Hiding Beneath My Stove:
I saw you--part of you, that is--when your body or your shell or whatever the fuck that was crawled out from beneath the stove before dashing back in. My scream was loud enough to wake the neighbors, yet no one showed up all concerned in their slippers and tighty whities on my doorstep. Not one minute later, you tried it again. The terror you arouse inside me--you can’t imagine. You probably can’t imagine anything, can you, past your next feast on my bad housekeeping. You’ve never dreamt, felt odd and disturbed, or felt a moment of joy pass through you and flit away. It’s all about your next meal for you, isn’t it. When I’m like that, I at least know enough to be ashamed. Each time I catch myself at a meal, masticating and chewing while planning the next meal, I loathe myself.
Would I kill you if you crawled out and stayed put, sniffing around or wiggling your antennas or whatever sensory input system you’ve got? Let me put it this way: when I crushed you, my lizard brain would be completely in harmony with my executive functioning. I have no idea how your body would respond to my blunt force--would vertebrae crack, would exoskeleton split--I don’t even know if you’re a mammal or what. This I do know: You’d be a goner and you’d visit me in my nightmares, making that snap, crackle, pop of death night after night.
If you’ll indulge me, I want to return to my screaming. I screamed the exact same way twice in a row, once for each time you poked out. Completely identical screams. That might have been the least calculated utterance I’ve made since infanthood. Those screams were so pure, I barely recognize them as my own. You really made me one with myself there. Congratulations.
But don’t go around bragging about it. It’s not exactly eros, what you inspired in me. However, this might make you, a barely sentient being, capable of pride: If you charged me, you’d win. You must be skeptical, thinking, There’s the top of the food chain, hovering over the kitchen table like the ogress she is. The dirty secret is that I, personally, did nothing to earn my spot at the pinnacle of the food chain. I’m just riding the coattails of my predecessors. The wheel, fire, language, electricity, the printing press, even Ikea furniture construction: none of that was me. So if you charged, I’d get the fuck out of your way.
Especially if you are fattening up down there, taking a page out of the evolution playbook. If it’s true that the most formidable and majestic of animals have evolved from tiny single-celled specks of life, you could be evolving into something no one, not even you, could predict. You peer at me from beneath the stove, fattened on my sloppiness, and your fear morphs into resentment. One day, our roles will be reversed, and I will be the nuisance. You wonder how I will sound when you deal with me.
But you weren’t as fast to hide as you might have hoped. I saw you. Twice. Sort of. I’ll deal with you tomorrow. Until then, tonight belongs to you. Enjoy your feast.
Jordana Jacobs is a single mother, teacher, and writer in Brooklyn, NY. These days, she's focusing on keeping her temper and homeschooling her kid. Her fiction has recently been published in The Lascaux Review, where it was awarded the 2019 flash fiction prize.