Look. See it sitting here right between us. It looks like a bruise, some sort of fungus. It’s started out as black specks on the baseboards, hard to see at first, could’ve been dirt we tracked in from outside or a renegade hair from the neighborhood cat who sneaks in from time to time. But the specks would keep showing up, no matter our wiping regimen. A few days in it was clear they were spreading.
The bedroom gets good light and there’s no en suite so it’s never damp or musty. You read that cleaning blog from instagram and preach the gospel of bleach and Tide. I love cleaning (at least I’ve always nailed that part) so it’s obvious that it’s nothing we’re doing. The bleach and Tide take the specks off, but they’re back within an hour. It’s like wiping blood off my neck when I nick myself shaving. The specks must be throbbing from the inside. We’re both handy. It was easy to decide to rip up the baseboards.
That’s when it really got out of control. “The angry fungus.” That’s what you called it. Coffee ground black and growing almost in real time. It came in bulbs that stretched into distended ovals until other new growth snapped through its skin. We went to take a walk to clear our heads. Mount a counter attack. When we came back it was at the foot of our bed. We put on masks and went for the garden shears.
It was clear the bedroom was off limits by the next morning. We slept on the couch, with our heads on opposite ends and the arches of our feet pressed together. “It’s a big couch,” I said, pouring coffee. “Who needs a bed.”
We looked on the internet and we found out it couldn’t get through walls. The angry fungus needed a carrier – an untucked T-shirt or a pair of loose fitting jeans, usually – so we undressed in the bedroom, closed the door behind us, and hoped for the best.