A flea’s total life cycle varies from a couple weeks to months. Science dictates that optimal condition for fleas to survive is at 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity.
I’ve considered what the optimal conditions for your survival were and have determined that you thrived in fleas.
i. the egg named Denial
The story goes that there were four cats: A, B, C, and D. Each were likely to have been Patient Zero in this outbreak. The first female adult flea attached herself to Patient Zero, fed on its blood, and proceeded to lay up to 40 eggs a day in batches of 20. Due to improper vigilance, a day turned to two, which turned to three, which turned to four, five, six, and because there were four cats, well…
Fleas overran your house.
You asked me how to get rid of them. I told you to clean your house.
Your house was always a dump.
It’s not my house, you’d say.
But you live in it, I’d say.
It’s not that I ever wanted to change you. All I wanted was to help you. I reserved judgment. I never ran.
My brain is messed up, you’d tell me.
Let me in, I’d say.
I used to tell myself that I saw something in your eyes: remorse, dread.
The signs were always there, but I was too blind to see.
ii. the larvae named Anger
When larvae first emerge, they are blind. When properly fed, they will grow up to ¼ of an inch long. When properly fed, they will also begin to contemplate their existence as legless organisms.
Why had I helped you when fleas overran your house?
When you told me that you hadn’t slept in three days because you could feel the fleas bite you, I pictured you alone. You itched yourself until you bled. The fleas pounced on you, and no matter how hard you swatted at them, they held onto your flesh. And you’d scratch so hard until you realized that no amount of fight would keep them off.
So, I agreed to help you.
It was eleven o’clock at night, and I took a trip to CVS with you to buy Lysol.
Fleas detest citrus scents.
I went back to your house and I swept and mopped and vacuumed.
And the fleas bit me. They left tiny red circles in their wake before receding into the depths of your basement.
You were able to sleep again, but I did not. You see—
I saw that you were truly alone. Your grandparents had abandoned you in a flea-ridden house. Your mom had long since packed to the middle of nowhere. Your friends, stoners and losers, might as well have been non-existent.
No one else would’ve helped you clean your house. But I, your ex, did. Yet, you didn’t think of me as a person.
iii. the pupae named Bargaining
The pupae stage of the flea’s life cycle can be described as a cocoon. While the adult flea can emerge in a matter of days or weeks, there are some pupae that remain in their cocoon for months, some even years. It’s all about those optimal conditions. If conditions are not ideal, then the pupae will continue to remain in stasis. I considered what optimal conditions I needed to survive, and I determined that …
I don’t think I ever had a moment in my life where I thought, is this what it feels to be dead? But in that moment while I cried and you kept going, I thought, so this is what it feels like to be dead.
Why don’t women always report their assaults?
Because everyone will ask:
What was she wearing? What was she doing? What was she thinking? What could she have done different? What was the weather like? What was her makeup like? How did she walk? How did she talk? Did you send him mixed messages? Did she really think he didn’t have ulterior motives? Did she think? Did she think? Did she think?
And they’ll also say things like:
She should’ve known better. She put herself in that situation. She was asking for it. She was asking for it. She was asking for it. She was asking for it.
And they’ll bring up the past:
She’s sexually active anyway. She’s had one-night stands in the past. She used to date him. She used to be his girlfriend. She was his.
So, instead, I went home and showered.
The day after was so easy for you. You opened up your phone and clicked on my name and texted:
I’M SORRY ABOUT YESTERDAY.
When I asked you to clarify, you said:
And I felt sick.
the action or process of making a way through or into something.
The pupae in its cocoon stage cannot be penetrated. It isn’t until it feels the vibrations of those around it that it will determine it can finally emerge.
iv. the biting adult named Depression
Once the adult flea has emerged from its cocoon, it will begin to feed on …
The voice inside my head tells me that it was my fault. I tell myself I was stupid. I think I’m stupid. I think I’m stupid.
Initially, the adult flea will have a flat body appearance. The more it feeds, though, the larger it will become. In its large state of being, it can survive for as little as a few weeks to months, months, months.
v. the extermination named Acceptance
While difficult to achieve, the flea can be eliminated. It’s recommended that you properly clean, spray, scrub, and vacuum.
We’ve talked since, but never have acknowledged the rape.
It’s recommended to seal and remove vacuum bags after each cleaning session. I sometimes discuss the rape with my therapist, but at the end of each session, we seal up the bag, and I carry on with the afterlife.
Angelica Julia Davila is a writer, comedian and improviser. She is a PhD student in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her website, breakingthepiggybank.com, offers financial advice to fellow financial hot messes like herself and in her free time she likes to tweet at Wendy’s a lot using her Twitter @panchopiggytron.