“And don’t give the gold one from Switzerland to anybody. Just destroy it in a theatrical way,” I ended, before realizing he had gone back to sleep. He made being kind look so appealing. I tried to mimic his breathing and the way he held his hands.

 

The next day Abe came home to me hanging some mosquito netting over our bed. I’m just under five feet tall. I was doing a terrible job because I couldn’t reach the ceiling.

“What’s all this?” he asked. “I don’t like it. It looks like a princess’s room.”

“It’s to keep the bats out. This way they can’t bite us when we sleep.”

“We’ll just close the doors and windows.”

“They could come in through the vent or the closet with the water heater. They can fit through a nickel-sized hole.”

“Baby, I don’t think you need to be so worried about this.”

“I’m too worried to even sleep in my own bed.” I dropped down and the mosquito net fell over me.

“Okay, I’ll call the landlord.” This was a huge compromise on Abe’s part. He hated getting the landlord involved. Meanwhile, I didn’t mind forcing my landlord to grapple with the fleeting nature of life alongside me.

Later that day my landlord left a message saying he was “sending his bat man over.” I loved everything about that sentence. If I understood the transitive properties of batmen, because I was his tenant, his batman was Batman too.

A few hours later a man wearing a baseball hat and a sleeveless black tee showed up at my door. His body was round in unexpected ways. He was a series of connected circles, like a snowman. His pink cheeks, also round, were covered in gray stubble.

“I’m here about a bat,” he squeaked. I invited him in, happy that someone was as excited to talk about bats as I was.

“So, where’re the bats living?”

“Well, they’re mostly dead, but they live in my bookcase.”

“Your bookcase?”

“It’s not just mine anymore. I have to share it with Abe now.” After I said that I led him into our study. “Those books are his,” I said pointing to the top shelf.

“Well, there’s your culprit.” He pointed to an uncovered vent-hole in the wall by the bookshelf. That made sense. He went outside, clanked around in his truck, then returned with a mess of netting to cover the bat’s entryway.

We agreed it was best if he checked the rest of the house. The exterminator saw himself as a bit of a ladies’ man. As I led him around, he said “I’ve got this situation under control” and called me names like “little lady.” It came across more old-fashioned than creepy.

In the attic, he opened all of the closet doors to check for bat roosts. He shined his flashlight into the corner.

“Just what I thought. Bat droppings.” I was so happy about being right that I almost passed out. “This must be where your bats are living. I’m going to plug it up with Gorilla Glue and clean it out. Then you should be good to go.”

“Did alive bats or dead bats live there?” I crunched my eyebrows down past the start of my nose. I shared what I’d learned on google. “So does it seem like these are megabats? Is it a megabat situation… that we have here?” It became clear he wasn’t going to answer my question. I pressed forward. “Do you think these bats have rabies?”

“You’ve got a real genius for worry, little lady.” And with that, the batman shut the closet door and fled like a prophet to get the Gorilla Glue from his car.

I wasn’t trying to be his protégé. But I would have appreciated a little more information about the rabies situation in my attic. I’ll just never go in that closet. That’s fine, I thought.

I’ve got a knack for knitting tiny worries into solid fear. My batman noticed. I wondered what will happen to the batman when he dies. My guess is the same thing that will happen to me. We all probably get the same deal.

 

For Christmas, we left Chez Bats and headed to Jamaica with Abe’s family. An hour after arriving at the hotel, I was sipping a Red Stripe oceanside with Abe. The sun sunk into the ocean shedding orange tones, making everyone’s complexions glow. Abe put his arm around me. It was a moment too romantic to live up to itself.

I started to notice that my blinks were leaving a trail of darkness. The scenery began to look like a movie slowed down enough to see the black lines between the stills. This isn’t normal, I thought, and then, it’s probably all in my head.

Dizziness followed, then an awareness of my heart, bulging and condensing. There was something crude about feeling my heart thud so bodily. I stood up to get a drink of water. My vision was missing. On my way to the bar I walked into a festive lantern.

“Didn’t see that there?” a man said, whose tan revealed he was near the end of his vacation. My lips sneered up at him. What did he mean? Then another bit of blackness.

In my dream, I was somewhere futuristic. There was a lot of neon blue and orange action. I was riding motorcycles with a Jamaican man and we kept taking off our helmets and shaking our hair in luxurious ways. On one of our breaks, an enormous pair of fingers crashed through the skyscrapers and started heading toward me. I felt them prodding around my mouth. Who would do such a thing? I realized I was sleeping and licked the fingers to tell them to help.

I heard a voice ask if I’ve ever had a seizure. Then I heard my carsickness mentioned and saw Abe’s face dangling over mine.

“Why did I take a nap here?” I asked Abe, but so many people hovered above me it looked like a Baroque church ceiling, titled something like: Jamaicans and their tourists ascending to heaven.

“You passed out and had a little seizure.” Abe’s voice had so much worry in it that it stirred me like smelling salts. Luckily, his parents were medical professionals. They walked me to a bench to diagnosis me.

The sun finished setting in a drizzle of silver across the horizon. It was firmly night now. The mosquitos noticed and attacked us in swarms, then the bats swooped across the sky. Normally, I hate the way bats make my body feel temporary. This time I found the reminder pleasant. As my vision disappeared, and my heart gasped, my attitude towards death became: it’s going to happen one day.

My vision disappeared again and I just wanted to go back asleep. Abe’s mom kept me talking to her. Abe prodded her to do more, quicker. He was coated in a fear-based sweat that smelled sweet.

I was fine. My blood sugar dropped so low from a day of traveling without snacking that my nerves had seized up to get my body going again. But to Abe and me, my fall was tragic. Even after I felt better, we stayed in the hotel room, making astonished eyes at each other.

“I can’t believe that happened. I hate that festive lantern,” I said.

“You were so white. I hated that. I couldn’t handle it if anything happened to you.” Abe hugged me for existing, held my head against his chest. “Oh my goodness, I’m so happy you’re okay.” He tightened his hug till it was uncomfortable. “This is the best. You being alive is the best.”

What surprised me about fainting was the seamless transition between the two states. For the moments I was unconscious in Jamaica, nothing felt out of the ordinary. I think death will be similar. That’s not too bad. I’ll be in this other state, relaxing, not knowing any better, like a drunk in a pool.

Bodies are ethereal; I love mine. I’m sure death plays a part of that. And I love Abe. I don’t think death could change that. And I could even learn to love my attic bats.

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