The Others that Live Here

by Regina M. Ernst

I woke up early, before the sun had fully risen, in my mini-apartment. I stumbled in the dark into my connected bathroom to discover a cockroach slowly plodding along the dim tile. He was one of those giant cockroaches, the kind that probably have wings and clumsily bump into things, the kind that crawl so confidently that they seem to have lived for centuries, the kind that seem more at home in your house than you. Naturally, I raised my foot to crush him, but paused mid-lift. He didn’t even flinch in the shadow of my flip flop. Instead, I put my foot down next to him, opened the door of my bathroom, which leads to the back patio, and encouraged him to waddle outside into the Colombian dawn.

I watched a movie before bed, the only light in my bedroom beaming from my laptop. One of the geckos hovering in the corners hurdled onto my keyboard, leathery skin smacking the keys. He watched the movie for a little, too.

I heard my host-mother scream. Sometimes, she makes noises of excitement that sound like shrieks of pain or sadness, so I didn’t think much of it. A few moments later my host-uncle, Roberto, came out back to my apartment and called for me.


I opened my door to him.

“There are bats,” he told me in Spanish.

“In the house?”

“Yes. Did you hear Damaris scream?”

“Oh, yes. Because of a bat?”

“Yes. There are many.”

I wasn’t there to see the bat, so I wasn’t sure if he meant there were many bats in the house, or many bats around in general, but it didn’t really matter. He explained that he closed the door to the main house to keep the bats out, but that I was welcome to knock and he would open the door for me, if say, I needed to use the kitchen or something.

The cockroaches, the geckos, the bats, me. We’re all the others that live here.

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