Oct 25 2016

Melissa and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Today was a DAY, you guys. Just an absolute day.

I’ve been meaning to write about the other four hundred thousand topics in my Blog Post Queue — which is obviously a very official space in a remote corner of my brain, where I carefully collect all the ideas that rush at me throughout the week and organize them into a giant heap and then place them in the Queue to die, because Peaches really needs a sandwich and Baby B is trying to see if the dog’s ears come off and I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to tend to those things first.

Right now, though, I have to abandon the Queue to talk about a regular ol’ day in the life, which is sometimes terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad, even when everyone seems relatively healthy and no bones appear to be broken.

Oh and also: this post is not pretty or polished or shareable. It’s more of a diary entry I guess, because sometimes writing stuff down is the only thing that makes a wild mind feel semi-tame, which is a big reason this blog was born in the first place.

So anyway. Even if I’m the only one who ever reads this, that’s okay. In fact, you probably SHOULDN’T read it, especially if you’re the least bit squeamish. And/or if you’re eating.

Seriously, fair warning: if you’re still with me, put down the chicken salad sandwich.

The children get up at 6:30 this morning, which is fifteen minutes earlier than yesterday and a full hour earlier than last week. (So yep, as long as that trend continues, by Christmas we’ll be on track to wake up for the day at midnight. Good times.)

Before I can even pour P’s Honey Nut Cheerios, I notice something long-ish and white under the kitchen table. What the hell is that? Rice? A piece of noodle? I am vaguely annoyed (but mostly exhausted) because I just steam mopped yesterday and WHY am I the only one interested in keeping anything clean around here?!

I reach down to pick it up. It crawls away from me, because you know what? IT IS NOT RICE. Or a noodle, as it turns out.

It is a maggot. In my brand new, obsessively sanitized, four-month-old home.

I flush it, because gross. And then I try to feed the children while remaining calm. But I know from my experience with the rental house moths that where there’s one larva, there are about a zillion more — and sure enough, another materializes not five minutes later, just inching casually across the freshly cleaned floor as if it owns the place.

I could show you the video — the one I sent my husband, along with the words YOU HAVE GOT TO BE $*^#%!&@ KIDDING ME — but don’t worry. I shall spare you. If you’re morbidly curious to see that kind of crawly disgustingness, there’s always Google.

from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Because you are supposed to do things like this just in case, I tie up our relatively empty trash bag and shove it into the plastic bin in our garage. A frantic examination of the kitchen ensues. I rummage through every single box in the pantry, pull everything out of the cabinets, look underneath appliances, search for the source. No. Nonono. This IS NOT happening again.

All the while, the children are screaming. P is all, “Mommm, I’m still hungry!” and B is just plain screaming, because he’s fourteen months old and only knows how to say his sister’s name and the word “ball,” and I’m on my hands and knees trying to peer behind the dishwasher for some kind of nest. WHAT HAPPENED? Did something die in our wall? Are they sneaking in from our still-unfinished backyard? MAKE IT STOP.

All at once, I remember something P said two-ish days ago: “Mommy! I trapped a fly! He was sitting in the trash can, and so I slammed the lid right down and I catched him!”

And it dawns on me: that effing fly — WHO WAS NOT A BOY AFTER ALL — laid some EGGS in our trash.


I race back out to the garage — already, two more maggots have escaped and are busy exploring the bottom of the bin. I yank out the trash, double bag that sucker, twist the whole thing into a knot, and drag it outside. In the house, the kids are calling for me — “Can I have some more food, Mommy? My tummy hurts! MOM!” — but I am headfirst in the plastic bin, feet in the air, smooshing the fugitive maggots.

I stagger back into the kitchen, filthy but victorious. I am so frazzled that I attempt to microwave a coffee mug with nothing in it. And because the kids are still hungry, I open the fridge and pull out the remains of a fruit tray, which promptly slides from my hand and crashes to the floor.

In a flailing attempt to catch it, my wrist somehow scrapes against the sharp underside of a refrigerator shelf and rips off a sizable chunk of flesh. Blood spills down my forearm and streams over my clothes.

Before I can clean myself or the fruit, a genuine scream of pain rises from the living room. The baby staggers over to me, and there is more blood — HIS this time, and pooling in his mouth.

He is still screaming.

“He fell smack on his face!” P says. As she runs to get us some paper towel, she slips on the mess of fruit and hits her head on the kitchen counter. Now there are two injured, wailing children and a mother who appears to have just slit one of her wrists.

I clean up the baby and get ice for my daughter and apply pressure to my wound, in no particular order. Then, clearly, I must pause to snap a pic of the fruit for my husband, as he will obviously be super jealous to have missed out on this kind of quality family time.

spilled fruit on floor bad day

By noon, I’m craving a tiny bit of peace and quiet, but today is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, so nobody takes a nap. I try really really realllllly hard to WILL them to fall asleep — unfortunately, my magical powers have abandoned me for the afternoon and everyone emerges from their bedrooms a whole lot crabbier than they were before.

We go outside. P skins her knee, B blows out a diaper, and we go back in. When I burn the grilled cheese so badly that the smoke detector goes off, it’s officially time to give up.

Screw it. I turn on Paw Patrol. There you go, kiddos.

I think this is the part where I’m supposed to look for the hidden lesson, where I reveal that I’m actually kind of grateful for today. So here that is: thank God Baby B was wearing his helmet when he fell, because things might have gotten really messy without it. Thank God P didn’t get a concussion when she hit the counter, and that her lack of nap caused her to go to bed just a teensy bit earlier than usual. The scar on my wrist proves we are fortunate enough to have a fridge in the first place, and the still-sticky spot on the kitchen floor means that we have fruit to spill.

And maybe I should try to say something poignant about fly eggs and food scraps and how I’m grateful to have found the larval source before it turned into a much, much bigger problem…but I don’t know if I can go quite that far. Some days are just maggot kind of days.

Too much? All right. I’ll let the pros usher us out:

My mom says some days are like that.

Even in Australia sunny California.

*With acknowledgements — and apologies — to Judith Viorst.*

About Melissa

Melissa is a SAG-AFTRA actress and former high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. She is the winner of the SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest and a past winner of the Breakwater Review Fiction Prize (selected by Susanna Kaysen, author of Girl, Interrupted), the F(r)iction flash fiction competition, and The Writer's inaugural personal essay contest, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, and The Boston Globe Magazine, among others. She has been shortlisted for both the Bridport Prize and the Bath Flash Fiction Award and was recently selected for The Best Small Fictions and the Wigleaf Top 50. Melissa is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

7 comments on “Melissa and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  1. Always extremely thankful when someone’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day appears to be worse – and funnier – than mine. Bless you.

  2. Oh, yes this happened to us when Janell was about 4 and my screaming was heard down the street – when I realized what was going on – same place, same type – we left the garbage while we went up north to the cottage – and at first I thought it was…..rice. Ha! But our lovelies made it further into the carpet – so – with a bit of screaming, and a night in well hell…. my dad – thank God, Uncle Gordon – my dad came the very next day, pulled out the carpet, got rid of the mess and new installation was ordered. I remember it being one of the most terrible, horrible, no good days ever – and no one slipped, fell or blew out a diaper. Love your words – and your gratitude.

  3. I laughed out loud at this one! Love you and miss you and yours so much. Wish I could be there to give you a rest! ❤️❤️

  4. I am a total bug-a-phobe, so the maggots would have undone me. I admire your bravery. When we first moved here, I found a cockroach. I had never seen one before. Naturally, I trapped it, called my husband at work, and did all research imaginable, completely freaking myself out. I made my husband move all our appliances sure that we were going to find a wall covered in them behind something. But, it turned out that there is an outdoor species here and since our home was also new, it was probably just left over from the building process when things were uncovered.

    I have also done a lot of research on ants in the springtime when they have tried to come in my back door.

    I think we would get along.

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