There is an obvious eroticism to the centipede, its smooth and fluid movements provide it a unique and alluring grace— where spiders and flies twitch and tremble centipedes seem to lithely flow between cracks and along walls. This one I have fallen in love with, in an instant. That sounds artistic, or symbolic, but it is here, and I love it. Each segment ripples along my ceiling, knitting itself to my walls, threaded into my life I can see each segment coil around the other and feel a profound ease, there is a perfect flow and calm to its motions. Each undulation presages a thousand more perfect dilations across itself. Even when it thrashes or falls there is an unspoken grace in its crisis.

There is a family of mice under my bed, under the boxes and trash, under the floor where it is warm. They impress me much less, and they barely arouse me at all. They screech and scratch and sink deeper into my home like an infected wound.

In a panic, just now, I tore all of my belongings out from under the bed, turned it on its side, and pried the hole open. I have listened, for weeks, to the family as it was conceived and reared, scraping and scratching in the silent night deep beneath my sleeping body. The hole is filled with opalescent squirming beans— I have scared the mother deeper into the floor, but I can sense her nearby. Her brood writhe, and I strain to make out any sound, other than their panicked mother’s scrapes.

The centipede’s segmented body speaks to our innate desire for order, an unspoken but universal obsession with symmetry and symmetrical function. The centipede has become a far realer thing to me in this instant. The centipede is a more erotic form than any other in the human world. It is the most perfect thing in my world. In the face of gangly bodies and wrinkled folded genitals and a million different faces, the smooth dark shell reflects the enormity of its perfection.

The centipede is massive, astonishing, it works its way slowly down my arm, I feel each fiber of my clumsy body interwoven with it. They fall away, for a second, one by one, as the centipede coils between each of my fingers. I drop him gently, with a soft gasp. The centipede writhes in the hole, perfect plastic fangs ripping apart embryonic tissue. I lie on the ground, straining to watch slower, to see everything, every second. I strain my neck into the hole; I want to pause life. I want to watch it in slow motion, to zoom in, to stare half awake into the new screen of my life. I’ve twisted my spine, desperately undulating against the cold crawling floor, my back knots, I writhe, ecstatic and lashing, my back breaks.

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