Cover Photo: A Creature! by Katharine Valentino

A Creature!

Noise-loud-scream-female-near-Rosa!

I launch away from the kitchen sink, skid across the linoleum, tear through the bedroom, and round the corner to the bathroom. Rosa, who went to the bathroom to brush her teeth before bed, is now up against the wall, white faced and wailing.

I lean down to my granddaughter and put my hands on her shoulders. “What? What is it?”

She points, finger shaking, at the bottom shelf in the open wall cabinet, where we put our laundry. “Uh,… uh,.. a … k-kreecher!” she wails.

Whatever it is, it’s not the Creature from the Black Lagoon, I tell myself sternly, and you have an obligation to act reasonable when your granddaughter visits. She needs to see you calm and capable on her first visit. I swallow, bend down and peer into the cabinet.

Nothing.

Swallowing again, I reach into the cabinet and use my thumb and forefinger to take hold of the belt loop on Rosie’s pink shorts, worn to day camp yesterday. I pull the shorts slowly out of the cabinet and give them a little shake.

Nothing.

Next comes a green bath towel: got it, pull it out, snap it a little. All that falls out is a one of Rosa’s tiny t-shirts. Then my bra and stockings from yesterday and several pairs of Rosa’s panties. By now, I’m not handling these quite as carefully. Maybe what’s in there really is the Creature from the Black Lagoon, which anyone would agree is a fantasy. Or maybe it is a real ... something. I just moved into this rental a month ago; who knows what lurks? I give one of my work blouses a snap, and ….

Aaaarrrggh! The biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen—must be three inches long—skitters out of the cabinet, streaks across the floor between us and disappears into a crack between the baseboard and the wall. Oh, yeah, it’s definitely a creature.

Within minutes, we have a piece of duct tape over the little hole in the back of the cabinet and another covering that crack between the baseboard and the wall. And that night, my Rosa sleeps with her little-angel smile intact.

Katharine Valentino worked for 25 years at menial jobs before acquiring a BA degree in journalism from Indiana University in Bloomington. For the next 20 years, she worked at slightly more interesting jobs and occasionally was even allowed to write some technical thing or another. She retired in 2015 and moved to Oregon. She is writing her memoirs and occasionally edits and publishes others' memoirs, stories and poems. Her website is Setting Forth—on a Literary Itinerary at http://settingForth.pub.