Moths – A Brooklyn Story

Moths Love Story Blog

My mother says we don’t need any more eccentricities in the family, as if I could possibly help it. These so-called “eccentricities” are helpful though, and can instead be seen as sound organization and storage techniques. Every time I return to my childhood home, I cautiously inspect the contents of her cabinets with industrial cleaning gloves, emptying any grain-based products into a plastic or preferably glass container. I observe the underside of Triscuit boxes, flour, and rice packages, checking for any glossy, sticky trails. 

Finding Meli moth larvae in your kitchen cabinet is unsettling, to say the least, and in my opinion, a revolting example of demons passively existing within packaged goods. The Meli moth will bite its way through food packages to lay eggs alongside the inner glue and plastic wrapping. This is to ensure that the children, once hatched, will be able to throw a writhing disco party in said food before they begin their long, arduous journey to a crevasse in, say, your cabinet or where your kitchen wall and ceiling conjoin. They will cocoon in unassuming pods, overlooked by the untrained eye, before bursting forth with aerial displays so wretched that one can feel the rumbling of Beelzebub’s envy from the deepest pits of hell.

My first encounter with these winged monsters was in my aunt’s apartment. Without divulging too much into the private matters of my late aunt, she was a hoarder, living at one with the moths. As a child, I had been paid fifty dollars a day to help her clean her apartment so the health inspector wouldn’t evict her. “As long as there’s a path,” she had told me, pointing down below the magazines and newspapers that we were precariously balanced on top of. We had to dig for solid ground and it had been my job to attempt to convince a hoarder to throw away, say, the watermelon I felt burst beneath my shoes, or the seventh set of china she had never used, all while sustaining a bombardment of kamikaze moth attacks. The fear of these creatures and my aversion to clutter has gripped me ever since. I embraced organized living and Scandinavian minimalism, even going so far as to date one.

So when my roommate pointed to the cabinet the week before his trip to LA and said casually, “damn it, there’s a moth,” I screeched, “WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?” I instinctively got low to the ground. “WHERE?” He pointed and, there it was, my greatest enemy, my mortal doom, the unclean spirit of Incubus, fluttering and perching itself on the wall, not three centimeters in length. Once you know a Meli moth you can never forget its slender shape, its brown coloring. “They’re here,” I muttered ominously, my roommate not even feigning interest. 

While I am quite capable of admiring the undulating body of a caterpillar or the majesty of a silkworm dangling from a tree branch, I recoil and howl when I see anything resembling the hairless, nude coloring of a Meli moth worm. My great weakness is the guilt I feel for killing bugs. I believe the moths can sense this.

“KILL IT, PLEASE,” I begged. With a lazy shrug, my roommate took off his shoe and smacked it. Their bodies always leave that same brown smear. I shuttered.

After our first sighting in the apartment, I had left for a week long trip. I returned just as my roommate was blissfully boarding his flight to LA. “Oh by the way and I’m sorry to say this…” he texted, “I saw five more this morning. I can help you get rid of them when I get back.” I read this text message and paused outside of my apartment, my head bowed with the weight one feels from impending doom. I opened the front door cautiously, reaching out my arm into the black abyss to flip on the light. And there, waiting for me, were three Meli moths in mid-flight, fluttering in their newfound Valhalla. I groaned. I lamented my fate. I made sure not to take a deep breath just in case one decided to make a demented, unholy soar towards my open mouth. Rushing through their social event, I retreated to my room and, as there was no time to spare, rapidly went through the five stages of grief in under fifteen minutes via texts to my roommate. 

This is not happening. How did you allow this to happen? Why didn’t you clean up while I was away? I’ll pay you to clean out the kitchen. I’ll pay someone else to clean, no, fumigate the apartment. How did I allow myself to live like this? Is it something I’ve done, is there a reason they follow me? Do they follow me? What has become of my life? Maybe I should kill myself. Or, maybe… maybe it’s time to kill them.

Two months earlier, I had started a relationship with aforementioned Scandinavian man. While I’ve had my fair share of love affairs, I’d often skirted around attaching myself to any singular male, preferring a harem instead. I chose to Pokemon, to Horcrux my emotions whittling men down to the repulsive and therefore appropriate term of “lover,” replacing their legal names with their profession, nationality, or sexual encounter. Friend favorites had been “The Trauma Surgeon”, “The Canadian”, “The Navy Seal”, “Heart Attack Guy” and of course, “Ball Pit Boy.” Curiously, the man I was currently seeing had efficiently leapt out of the icy pools of “The Scandinavian,” and became “David” in just under two months. David, just David. David the sweet, calm redheaded boy who was supposed to come over to my moth infested apartment in just under an hour.

I weighed my limited options. I couldn’twait the five days for my roommate to return. The moths would multiply. They would have more intricate socials in the living room, create a maternity ward out of my roommate’s box of Ritz crackers, elect council members in the kitchen cabinet, vote to overthrow me, the callous dictator and evict me from my own home all before my roommate would return. What if they fluttered into my room while David was over? Perhaps they’d crawl under the door gap while I slept to nest in my hair. Did they… did they want to nest in my hair?

The extermination couldn’t wait. 

I fished under my bed for the gardening gloves I used for my lovely little succulents, tied a bandana over my mouth, and snuck into the bathroom, clamoring for anything under the sink that had a long-range and deadly spray. Clutching the Lysol can like a Catholic clutches their strands of rosary beads, I prayed. 

Blasting my war cry from my phone, I busted out of the bathroom to the anti-climactic, droning voices on the BBC World News podcast. The moths gently fluttered as I sprayed, the Lysol can hissing like holy water on the possessed. The moths were far too quick to recover, rebounding off of the countertop and dodging my next shot. My conservative spritzes became biblical floods, drowning my apartment in bathroom cleaners and chemical fumes. Screaming, cursing, and soon, maniacally laughing either due to fumes or my power-hungry rage I took. Them. Out. Then, when I’d successfully put a damper on the moth meet and greet in the center of the room, I used a stool to reach Meli moth mecca. It was amongst some crackers and colon cleanser the previous roommate had left behind that I found The Arc, pairs of moths flying as one. In twos, moths were entwined, crawling away in unison in what I can only describe as a malevolent mating ritual, a wicked moth-king bonding that belonged in the third circle of hell from which they had come. Asking Saint Gratus of Aosta for strength, I sprayed.  

By the time the BBC podcast was broadcasting previews for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, I had finished. Everything was cleaned and discarded in front of the apartment building for the rats to pillage and ward over. I took a long, hot shower and emerged from the steam to a text from David. “I’m really sorry but would you mind meeting at my place instead? I’m still delayed at the airport and need a change of clothes.”

“Yea, no problem! See you soon!” I texted back with a jovial emoji, manically smiling into the digital void. On the subway, hurdling towards David’s clean, spartan apartment, I ruminated over those dead moths. I felt immense remorse for having annihilated a life form so innovative and driven to survive in grains but also oddly grateful to them, having realized I’d found someone worth cleaning up my life for.