Attack of the Pollen (unless it’s just another cold). So here’s a bit of a ghost story…

Pounding, twinging, aching sinuses. I’d be 100% certain it’s allergies except my stomach is off too, although that could also be a result of having had that third coffee / second café mocha this afternoon.

I stood in a hot shower for a bit, hoping the steam and my nasal saline would help. Noticed that my shower drain is clogged, probably from rinsing out the cricket container. The drain is full of dead crickets. 

Made me think of a haunted house that I’ve heard students talk about, over on Poplar St. It sits on top of a boulder, an outcropping of Canadian Shield that bulges up and slightly over the road. A few straggly trees have grown up stubbornly between the house and the road, clinging to cracks and fissures with snarling roots.

Teens have broken into the house over the years since it was abandoned. The most popular story they tell is of the dolls: a circle of old, broken dolls positioned on the wooden floor in what used to be the living room. They say that if you leave the room to check out the rest of the empty house, when you go back in to see the creepy dolls again, they’ve moved.

Not sure how I linked dead crickets in my drain with possessed dolls in a haunted house, but there it is. The suggestion of a story, a germ of an idea. Imagine a family buying the structure because it’s all they can afford, planning to fix it up, but every time they move the dolls or throw them away, they come back… Peering out with their dead glass eyes from the bushes by the garbage bins… Lying in a semi-circle around the back door… Every day, pushing a little closer and a little closer, trying to get back to their domain…

And then one day, the mother is consumed with a need to know the truth. She goes to pick up the plastic baby doll, creased with dirt in its joints and dimples, but as soon as her fingers close around its fake pudgy belly, a hoard of insects pours out of the crack under its smiling mouth: brown crickets, black spiders, white millipedes, red ants…

Not sure how the story might end. It’s a mystery.

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Allergy Season Strikes Again! And I go to bed.

With the retreat of the snow (FINALLY!!!!) and the rise of the piles of winter doggy leavings, comes my old nemesis.

It’s the beginning of allergy season.

I feel it in my sinuses, tight and swollen and sore and congested. It’s in my eyes, sore and dry. I feel it in the tingling of the roof of my mouth, and in the tickling of my ears. The pollen is flowing, and so is my nose.

If it weren’t so physically draining (which is, in turn, mentally draining), I would try not to mind. But not even coffee can help me now. Only sleep. Precious, restful sleep.

I passed the halfway point in my WIP last night, and Adam is in an awkward position that I need to resolve. But my bed . . . it’s so soft, and warm, and welcoming. It feels like the pressure in my sinuses is drawing me to my comfy pillows, like — well, I guess I can’t say anything regarding magnets or moths because those aren’t great comparisons to make with one’s nasal cavity. But if I could walk through walls, I’d be gravitating to my bed right now.

So that is what I shall do. No word count for tonight. Adam will simply have to remain in his holding pattern, and I’ll have to catch up tomorrow.

Oh, gods . . . and do my marks for the mid-term report cards, due Monday. (sob)

My Mortal Enemy

The ritual begins at bedtime, in the early summer. 

As soon as the sun approaches the western horizon, the unscreened windows are shut tight, and suspected cracks, stuffed with cloth, are inspected for the tiniest of openings.

Food is served, but we eat while alert, bodies tensed and eyes shifting toward shadowed corners. Small flickers of movement are suspect. Wisps of breeze stirring the light hairs on the arms and backs of necks induce rapid twisting of the torso and swiping at the air.

Nerves are already tingling, raised swellings and pin-sized gouges itching incessantly at the thought of another imminent attack.

Is the whine in my ear imaginary? Or is the tell-tale song of the enemy already inflicting itself upon my senses?

The remains of previous battles still dot our walls in various places — corners too high for the mop to reach, out-of-the-way places where our eyes rarely rove — carcasses forever glued to the drywall with their own innards, petrified trophies of the victory of human over insect.

They dance on the air currents, taunting. Swatters are useless against their fairy-like grace. Our vision struggles to focus on tiny bodies silhouetted against the light, depth perception flawed by poor illumination, or tension, or frustration. 

If I move fast enough, I can catch my tormentor in my hand. I can snatch it from its uneven flight, burying it in my clenched flesh, and hope that with enough grinding friction, it will be torn or squashed enough to end its existence. But the sneaky bastard tends to be flexible and soft, nestling into the folds of my curving fingers, ready to wisp free as soon as I extend my fingers again. My reflexes are rarely quick enough to catch the thing on its escape, and I am forced to start over, hunting even as I am hunted. 

How many will have entered the house tonight? Every time I think we have killed all of the interlopers, I am called back to my child’s bedroom to seek and destroy the next. Every time I start to relax, my hackles rise before I’m quite aware of the presence of the mosquito in my space. 

I welcome spiders in my home. I invite moths to my garden, and bats are my comfort. I am grateful that blackflies don’t bite indoors, and that deer flies and horseflies are rare for those of us who live in town. But mosquitoes have always been the bane of my summer. I’m not one of the lucky ones to whom mosquitoes are not attracted, nor am I one of those who can take a bite without much reaction. I itch, and I swell. My children, too. It seems that my allergy has abated somewhat since I was small, because the swelling is much less than I recall, but the relentless irritation of the skin continues for days after the original bite. Calamine, Polysporin, Benadryl — nothing helps, or for very long. It is something I’ve learned to live with. 

I am grateful I don’t have to worry about my mosquitoes carrying dangerous fevers or malarial infections. I am hopeful that West Nile will never show up in this part of the world. I am thankful that our mosquito season is relatively short. But the frustration and tension remain, night after night. 

Here’s hoping for a pleasant sleep…