KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Flash Fiction: 868 words


by Erin Darby Gesell

The cockroach is stuck in the corner of the gym shower. I consider finding a different stall, but feel like if I do and another woman finds him, she’ll scream or smash him. I set up my shower caddy, turn on the water, and hold my hand out, waiting for it to get hot.

My husband is having an affair. I know because the woman he’s sleeping with called our house this morning to tell me. She said she felt guilty, but she didn’t say she was sorry, not that I feel like giving her my forgiveness.

The cockroach goes crazy when the water hits him. I step into the spray. He tries to climb the wall, can’t, and flips over onto his back. He stays like this, upside-down, and starts to scuttle all over the tiled floor. There is shampoo in my hair and I can’t close my eyes or tip my head back to rinse it out lest the exorcist crawls over my foot.

I know God would want me to forgive her. I know God would want me to forgive him. I know we made a promise before Him to stay in this marriage, but I wonder if I can. I’m only thirty-eight. I can’t imagine lying next to my husband until I die anymore. I know my suffering is minor compared to what Jesus endured for us, but I’m not as strong.

I close my eyes and remind myself what a good thing I’m doing, letting this cockroach live. I take a quick inhale and tip my head back, letting the water wash the shampoo out of my hair. I imagine I can hear the cockroach’s shelled back clattering against the tile floor as he scuttles around. When I open my eyes I search for him and almost freak out when I don’t see him. Would I feel it if he crawled up my leg with the water coming down?

Some people believe divorce is acceptable when there is infidelity. I do not. A vow to God is a vow to God. Why can I not forgive them? I can hear the conversation I could have with my husband: The woman already told me who (her), what (fornication with my husband), when (the last two years), and where (my home, hotels, her home). Now I need to know why. Why? I would ask him. Because, he’d say. Simply because. Because he could, because he wanted to, because he did.

I find the cockroach in the corner again. He’s righted himself. I give him a push with my flip-flop, trying to get him away from the flow of water. I think that’s what’s making him run around so much. If he could just get where it’s drier, he could wait until I’m ready to grab a paper towel and rescue him. I shave my legs, thankful I’m getting rid of the hair so the cockroach won’t use it to climb up my body.

My husband wouldn’t lie—his conscience is funny. Not a religious man, he prides honor. Honor would not let him lie, but he can cheat with a clean mind because. Because he does what he wants. Because he’s a man and it’s natural for men to have needs. Because doesn’t your God say to mind your husband? As if there is any other God than the one I pray to.

That little idiot did it again. The cockroach ran right back from where I scooted him to safety. He’s in the corner again, trying to climb the wall. He flips back onto his back. Poor dumb creature. I think about crushing him to put him out of his misery, but all of God’s beings deserve our mercy and I promised to get him out alive.

This time he doesn’t scuttle around like a freak turtle that can reverse his legs to run right-side-up or upside-down. This time he just lies there and brings his hands/feet together on his stomach like he is giving up or pondering God overhead. How strange a shower must feel to a bug. I finish my other leg and gather my things and leave the stall. I stand, naked, in front of my locker, unsure of what to do. It seems strange to wear my normal clothes on this abnormal day. How does one dress when her husband has cheated on her? How does one fix her hair after another woman tells her she has lain with one’s man?

I stuff myself into the clothes I’ve brought in my bag. I rake a comb through my stringy wet hair and decide not to fix it. I go back to the shower with a paper towel to scoop the cockroach up and deliver him to the outside world to freedom. In the shower stall, he’s still lying on his back with his legs folded over his torso. I look down on him and wonder how God created us all. And why? Why do we have to suffer on this earth? I crumple the paper towel in my hand and stomp on the cockroach. I wanted a satisfying crunch to rupture under my tennis shoe, but I hear nothing.

Erin Darby Gesell
Issue 8, August 2017

is a writer, personal trainer, ultra marathon runner, yogi, and lover of chocolate, dogs, and all things fictional. From Norfolk, Nebraska, she now lives in Omaha where she obtained her BFA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in Creative Writing and Spanish. She obtained her MFA from Antioch University in Los Angeles. Her short stories have been published in various journals, including The Magnolia Review, The Riding Light Review, A Sharp Piece of Awesome, and the anthology For Books’ Sake.

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