Tania de Rozario
an excerpt from And The Walls Come Crumbling Down
THE night you called, the termites came. Hungry, wet from the rain.
They must have known the heart of the house had been emptied, must have decided to hollow out the roof while they still had time. After all, someone new might move in once I ran out of rent to pay. And this someone might demolish the buffet, tearing down the structure and cementing the walls, sealing up all the cracks in the floor that had granted them access to my life in the first place.
It felt as if one night was all it took to turn the roof protecting my head into the very thing that I was in danger of.
My house was falling apart. That is what the exterminator would tell me the next day. When I asked him to tell me something I didn’t already know, he smiled smugly and told me I had three options: I could either de-oxygenate my property (for a hefty sum of ten grand), poison the soil in my garden (inevitably killing all my plants), or spot-dust the structural wood with arsenic (inevitably killing me).
Seeing that I did not have ten grand, that I quite liked my plants and that I did not regard the idea of death as particularly uninviting at the time, I opted for the arsenic.
It was only when you put down the phone that I heard them. That tiny, insistent sound. That crackle-and-pop that resembled a cross between television buzz and garlic being fried. I had just walked back into my house when you hung up on me. You were staying at your parents’ again and I was pissed. When I was finally confronted with silence and then a dial tone, I followed what sounded like static coming from my own head, into what had been our bedroom. Into what was now my bedroom.
The termites had built miniature tunnels all down one wall. Soil and faeces like veiny fingers trailed down from the roof, the tunnels providing adequate moisture and shelter for them to conduct their chewing.
I’d never seen termites before and I called you back in a panic. Your phone was off and I was outnumbered. Without anyone to share in this nightmarish lullaby of ten thousand unwanted guests chewing with their mouths open.
© Math Paper Press
by Tania de Rozario
from And The Walls Come Crumbling Down (2016)
published by Math Paper Press