The Hell Butterfly

Four Down, Ten to Go

My parents have gone away to Tenerife for two weeks. They left four days ago, leaving myself and my younger (18) sister to our own devices. And I already want them to come home.

Being 3 years older than my sister, I’m supposed to be the responsible adult. I delegate the chores, make sure the sister’s fed an watered – though she’s old enough to do it herself – and I’m supposed to be the protector. If something goes wrong, I’m meant to fix it. If she gets scared or feels upset, I’m supposed to make it better. And normally, I’d have no problem. But not this time. Not this time.

When you look at the facts, the things that have tipped me over the edge are minor. To be specific there have been two minor issues. Spiders. Large ones. The first I drowned in the sink and, after some dry heaving and tears, I removed the body. The second ran across the front room last night, and I had a panic attack before I could kill it. As the responsible adult out of two people scared of spiders, it was supposed to be my job to deal with the situation. I stayed calm while she cried, I told her what to do to get her out of the situation, but when it came to the final step, I couldn’t do it.

I don’t remember the last time I was that scared.

It was my job to handle it and yet it was my sister wrapping her arms around me as I had a breakdown. And I don’t mean the kind of crying where tears fall from my eyes. I mean the kind of crying where I felt my insides cracking and the sobs were audible. It was suited more to someone grieving than to someone looking at a palm-sized spider. But I fell apart and I failed at my job.

It ran under the sofa – a large sofa so it could be anywhere – and in the panic I only just managed to communicate that I didn’t want to be downstairs. We went upstairs and shut ourselves in my sister’s bedroom, where I stayed all night until morning. I was too paranoid to even go to the toilet. It was sweltering, I slept in the clothes from the day before, but despite how uncomfortable I was I couldn’t bring myself to leave. Instead, I slept in her make-shift armchair and prayed for day.

Well, I say I slept. I didn’t, not really. We watched some tv and went to bed at about midnight. Two minutes after I turned the light out, I fell apart. I kept quiet enough for her not to notice, but I couldn’t stop. I cried for an hour and a half. It was the biggest panic attack I’ve had in almost two years. I didn’t feel safe in my own home. I wish I could convey to you all just how terrified I was to be in the house. The only thing that kept me from getting my cash and some clothes, and jumping on a train to Plymouth was the knowledge that her bedroom door was almost completely sealed all around. The spider from downstairs may have been able to climb stairs, but it couldn’t get in. I spent most of that hour and a half freaking out. I could barely breathe, the duvet was drenched with my tears and it seemed every time I thought I’d calmed down, something struck in the back of my mind and the paranoia would send me straight back to terrified.

As I said earlier, I don’t remember the last time I was that scared.

I wanted my parents back. It took everything to not call them in the middle of the night and beg for them to come back early. It’s only another 10 days, but it’s still another 10 days. I can’t call them. I knew it and I still know it. I won’t ruin their holiday. I won’t tell them how scared I am just being in the house. I won’t tell them I want them to come home. I won’t ruin it for them. It’s not like it’ll help. I call them, they get on an early plane and lose their holiday time and money. I feel guilty. I call and they stay the full length but my Mum worries the whole time and can’t enjoy herself. The holiday is ruined anyway. I feel guilty. I can’t do it to them.

Yet saying that, I was tempted to up and leave in the middle of the night, leaving her alone. I could have taken her with me if we didn’t have the guinea pigs. We can’t transport them anywhere. The only option left is to get my other, older, sister to drive over, take the animals, and me and the younger one go to my place in Plymouth. I’m considering asking my sister how her boyfriend feels about spiders, because if he doesn’t mind them, I want them to stay here this weekend. They work during the week, but I don’t want to be alone. I’m not, but in terms of the responsible adult, I feel so isolated.

Right now, I’m sitting across the room in my new desk chair, not the sofa, with my feet up on the coffee table. I want to be as far away from the sofa as I can. It may not be there anymore, but I’m not taking that chance. All doors were shut overnight, so it must still be in the house. I’ve felt sick and overheated since last night. My skin is crazy hot, and my stomach is in knots. I keep looking towards the last known sighting area and I’m on edge, expecting any moment for it to run out. If I couldn’t deal with it last night, how can I do it today? I know my sister won’t do it. We’re equally scared of spiders but she wouldn’t do it. I’m in a mixed mind about this – yes I said I’m the responsible adult, but I would also appreciate some assistance in difficult situations.

Last night the only thing I could think about was what excuse I could give to leave the house today. Leave all day and not come back until I really had to. I thought of asking a friend out for coffee that I haven’t seen in years – and I don’t drink coffee. I thought about walking the 3 miles into town to window shop for hours – and I’m uncomfortable in crowded places. I thought about how many people I could call and have a panic attack over the phone to, but concluded I could call everyone on my contacts list and I would not feel any better for one reason: they wouldn’t come to the house. As I say, I don’t feel safe in my own home, and only another adult can change that.

It seems pathetic to be so shaken by such a small thing. But it’s happened. I’m rattled, I’m on edge and I’m so scared of being here I want to vomit. I’m trying to put on a brave face for my sister, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she can see through it. I don’t think she’s ever seen me break down quite like I did last night. I’m just trying my best to stay calm. It’s very hard. I just want my parents.

Ten days to go. I hope the spider’s gone, and stays gone. I hope no more show up. And I hope beyond anything else that I can hold it together until they get back from Tenerife.


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