A moth walks into a podiatrist’s office.
The podiatrist sits her down and asks, “So, what’s the trouble?”
And the moth says, “Trouble, doc? Trouble. I’ve got so much trouble I don’t even know where to begin.
I used to have a job I loved, but I quit to take care of my older brother after he was in a car accident. That was three years ago, and I’m still taking care of him. He’s paralyzed from the neck down. He can’t do anything. I mean, he could. If he tried. But he doesn’t try. He doesn’t want to take care of himself, so I have to do everything for him. Turn him. Feed him. Change the channel on the television. Change him. I love him, so I don’t mind doing it, but after three years, it just…takes a toll.
Like with my family, Doc. My kids…I hardly ever see them anymore. It seems like every time one of them have some kind of event I need to go to…Sally’s soccer game…Benji’s band concert…whatever it is, suddenly my brother is having some kind of emergency and I have to rush to take care of him. Sometimes it seems real, like something medical, and other times he’s just having these…I don’t know…depressive fits where he can’t stop crying. I was sympathetic at first, Doc, but he made me miss my oldest’s high school graduation! She went off to a college six states away and she won’t speak to me anymore. Oh, sure, she’ll speak to her father all the time, but if I try to get on the phone? She’s gone in an instant. The only way I can hear her voice anymore is when my husband puts the phone on speaker without her knowing, and then I have to keep absolutely quiet. I can’t say anything.
My other kids know something is wrong but they don’t know what. Or maybe they do know, I don’t know. I honestly don’t know anymore, Doc! I don’t know why I should be so surprised I can’t keep in contact with Samantha at college when I barely know anything about the kids living in my house! Every time I try to do something with them, my brother is ringing his emergency bell. Oh, sure, he can’t do anything else to take care of himself, can’t learn to use the fancy computer to send email or pull up a website or anything else its programmed to do, but he sure can hit the emergency bell and send the alert to my cell phone, he sure can do that. Hell, Doc, the only reason it hasn’t gone off during this appointment is I turned my phone off.
I’ve been doing that more and more, Doc. Just turning my phone off, leaving the house. Once he’s asleep, I leave the house and just walk the streets. It’s well lit, it’s a safe neighborhood, I’m not afraid. It’s sort of freeing, actually. Just me and the night breeze. No responsibilities. It’s getting harder and harder to turn back into my house, actually.
The only reason I do it is because of my husband. We don’t love each other anymore. I can just say that now. How could we? We haven’t been a real married couple in three years. I see more of my brother’s naked body than my husbands’, how’s that for a life? We’ve been sleeping in separate bedrooms for close to two years now, because I sleep in the master bedroom on a cot to be near my brother. In case he needs something. Yes, we gave him the master bedroom. He needed all the space for his medical equipment, you see. So he just…lords over all of us from the top floor of the house, hitting that emergency button and sending us all into a panic whenever he wants.
My husband and I…I don’t even know why we’re staying together. For the kids, maybe? Although, I know he wants to divorce me and take the kids away. He forgot to close his computer, I saw the emails to his lawyer. And you know what, Doc? I don’t blame him. He should. Get them away from that bloodsucking creature in our bedroom. But he won’t, because he’s too good a man. He’ll never just abandon me like that. And I won’t let him do it, I won’t even let him know I know, because I’m a coward.
Yes, that’s what I am, Doc. A terrible coward. Even as the weight of it all is crashing in on me I’m too scared to move. I feel like I’m buried up to my hips in the sand and the tide is coming in and I can’t do anything about it. Every time my phone goes off I want to scream.
I said my night walks were safe, Doc, but I lied. They’re not. We live in a good part of town, but we’re not far from the bad, and that’s where I go. I go and I walk and I make myself look small, just hoping that someone…anyone…will do something. Something to take me away from all this without it being my fault.
Because I’m a coward. I can’t do it. No matter how many times I stand on that bridge, or get the gun out from my husband’s safe, or stand over my sleeping brother with a pillow in my hands, I just…can’t…do it. I’m so much of a coward, Doc, I can’t free all of us from this prison we’ve all been buried in.”
And the podiatrist says, “That does sound like a whole lot of trouble, and you do sound like you need help, and lots of it. But I’m a foot doctor, why come to me?”
And the moth says, “Because your light was on.”
Inspiration credit to Norm MacDonald.