Upstairs by Erica Gonsalves

The black mold is back on my bedroom wall. It grows in fuzzy patches that remind me of caterpillars. But the creatures that sometimes share my room aren’t fuzzy. Daddy longlegs nestle in my doorframe. Brown and orange slugs slime their goop trails on my windowsill. I thought moving to a place with endless rain meant I could burrow. No one told me I’d have to share my cocoon.

Last week, I got a new roommate. I didn’t tell him that our house grows mold. And during the tour, I didn’t show him my bedroom. I worry that he’ll try to interpret the black thought bubbles that have formed behind my headboard and cascade their way up to my ceiling. They lead directly to the off-colored, triangular patch where the rain has seeped through. There is a window upstairs that opens onto the roof above my head, and he asked if he could crawl through and sit up there to watch the sunrise. I warned him not to go too close to that corner. When I lay my head down on the pillow before going to sleep, I stare up at the ceiling and wonder how much rain it would take for the plaster to crumble and cave in.

It’s 4AM and I hear my roommate dragging a chair across the roof to set up and paint. I know he started an herb garden up there. Every so often he brings up a book to read; he loves rereading Bradbury and Kafka. One morning I woke up to the bottom of his bare feet just above the windowsill. I’ve watched him pluck an acid green slug about two inches long from our kitchen window, smile like a little boy and hold it right up to his eyes to inspect before his morning run.

I have never been up on the roof. He ignores the sudden gusts of wind that could blow you away and dips his toes in the puddle in the corner. Maybe he wears rain boots and splashes lightly in the water. No. He’d be the type to plunge his naked feet in the wetness and saturate himself entirely. He has a way of blurring boundaries.

Once when we were both in the kitchen, he told me that we dream more in the rain. I have spent ten months in this bedroom. I’ve fallen asleep most nights to the tip-tap snare drum of drops outside. Now, there’s the addition of the gentle thud of his pacing footsteps above me. He doesn’t sleep, and I haven’t remembered a single dream.

Erica Gonsalves, originally from Connecticut, U.S, is spending the year abroad in Ireland to obtain a Masters in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway during the 2016/2017 school year. Her work has been seen in The Galway Review. Before this year, she has been teaching high school English for the past six years.

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