Having faked his own death for the sake of his poor family, Gregor Samsa, former salesman turned cockroach, has found a new home, across town with the Kovacs, a nice family, featuring two children, a grandmother, and a dog. So far, Gregor has been able to evade detection. He stays in the dark corners and underneath furniture during the day, and takes care of business during the night, while the other residents are asleep. It’s not a bad life, for a monstrous vermin. Christmas is coming, and Gregor is excited. Though this particular Christmas will be much different than any he has experienced before, on account of his condition, it is still his favorite time of year. It has a kind of romance.
Nov 30 – We’re almost in “the Christmas month”. I am excited to see what the Kovacs have in store, decoration-wise. They seem a tasteful sort. So far, I am quite happy with this family. They are neat enough so as not to attract other vermin, but are just messy enough that I eat quite well. I do miss my old family, but I think they were planning on killing me with a shoe.
Dec 2 – Had some trouble with the dog today. He seems uninterested in me as a food item, but he often sniffs at me. It’s not the moistness of the nose I mind (truly, I love anything moist), it’s that I’m afraid he will inadvertently crush me, so insistent and forceful are his sniffs. I feel like a truffle. If only I had some sort of stinger or pincer claw.
Dec 5 – Wow. Christmas decorations went up today, and – wow. Tack-y. First of all, the tree is artificial, so of course, I’m disappointed there won’t be a bowl of sugar water under there, like you would need for a real tree, to keep it fresh. (One of the few upsides to my condition: realizing how amazing sugar water is.) But even just on an aesthetic level: why? Is it really so much more convenient to have a fake tree? Are they really saving that much money? It smells of nothing! They set up a nativity scene that has the olive wood look, but I’m a little suspicious that it too is a fake. I’ll go up and examine it in detail once the lights are out. The worst thing of all is this “wreath” made not of fresh pine branches but of thick, green yarn. It is macramé! Ugh! Ah well. Some bits of sugar cookie fell under a chair, so I’ll grab those for dinner (if no one sweeps them up, “fingers” crossed) and then it’s up the cabinet to take a closer look at that probably-fake creche.
Dec 6 – Creche was fake. Also, the faces on each of the figurines were identical – all of them, shepherds, wise men, holy family, livestock – which makes the birth of our savior more uncanny than miraculous. Crawling down, I injured my third leg on the left side quite badly. I hate that it just drags behind me now, but there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t know if it will heal or just fall off one day.
Dec 9 – Found two really nice pubic hairs under the sofa this afternoon, real treasures. Today was a good day.
Dec 11 – We’re falling into a nice holiday routine here at the Kovacs residence. We’re all very busy, of course, but it’s that pleasant kind of bustle – like, we’re all busy towards something, not just busy for busyness’ sake. It’s nice. I try to stay out of the way during mealtimes, though I find I can linger right at the edge of the light, to watch where scraps fall and catch a little news of the outside world. And I do my nightly patrols while everyone is asleep – doing my part to keep an eye on things, plus a little cleaning up of whatever bits of filth I missed during the day, which is a win/win. You know, life together.
Dec 14 – I am contemplating doing something special for the Kovacs for Christmas. My options are limited, because I am a cockroach, but I am trying really hard to think of something. A few ideas are as follows: baking some kind of treat (probably impossible), a surprise gift for the whole family (done anonymously, of course), and preparing a special song (also probably impossible, as I can’t even talk anymore, much less sing). So, a special gift seems most likely, but what? I can see that they like macaramé, but no. I won’t do that. I certainly can’t purchase anything. The one idea that keeps coming back to me is to paint the nativity scene. It’d have to be done in one mad rush of a night and I’m not sure where I’d find the materials, but I think it’s doable. Perhaps Fritz, the cockroach who lives next door with the Orsos, would give me a hand. I could buy some beer and maybe it’d be fun. Hmm…
Dec 16 – Mrs Kovacs made gingersnaps tonight!!! Ah!!
Dec 17 – Man, I just got nothing done today.
Dec 19 – Finally had a chat with Fritz, and he is quite happy to help paint the creche. Great guy. I’ve collected most of the materials, but have had trouble finding brushes. Will venture over behind the school later; sometimes they throw out art supplies. That leg finally fell off, but I didn’t even notice when it happened!
Here the diary ends, abruptly. A gust of wind came under the door so strong it flipped Gregor onto his back. He was stuck like that for several long days of hopeless frustration, until Fritz came over to help with the creche and ate Gregor instead. A day later, the Kovacs’ youngest daughter found a paintbrush in a corner of the floor and kept it. The brush was in fairly bad shape, having already been thrown out at the school, but at 6 years old she didn’t know the difference. She liked it better than any of the gifts she received on Christmas day.