Creature Comforts

by Ed DeCicco

I discovered the answer to all my problems while watching some Discovery Channel program. It was all clean Brit narration and greater-than-life-resolution wide lenses, dead animals propped around live ones that could smell decay - and all about meerkats. Or prairie dogs. One of those twitchy little furry things I'd rather not accidentally walk on top of were I ever to travel anywhere with actual grass or land or dirt. Pancake land, flat and expansive, potholed with the tops of prairie dog homes out there in fly over country.

That wasn't gonna happen anytime soon.

But the things burrowed. That was all I could focus on. They ate, and they hunted, and they socialized, and they fucked, but the burrowing - now that was the thing I liked the most. They dug interconnected hide-y holes like a giant ant farm God could watch. Small, dark, pockets of air - dirt pod apartments for the whole prairie dog family - lined with grasses and shed fur. The pressure of the whole Earth just a big clay quilt. Those burrows looked soft and warm, like a lover's bosom. Or so I've been told. I stayed up the rest of that night researching burrowing animals on Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. And that led to ants, which led to Hymenoptera. The word hymen caught me, though, so my 3:30 research turned into a 3:35 self-care session. Second of the day. Enough time left for a third.

When I woke up in the late afternoon I laid around in bed; the musty odor of dirty tissues and sweaty pajamas was a little more noticeable than usual. The tattered Pokemon sheets I'd had since I was 8 were stuck to my iPhone with drool. I looked up burrowing again. Those prairie dogs had the right idea. It was all I could think about behind the Walmart counter as I scanned out a pack of condoms for a kid I'd gone to high school with, though he thankfully hadn't recognized me. Probably because I wasn't wearing that sick Captain America shirt I used to wear that he complimented me on once. But anyway, when he and his girl left I kept looking up burrowing. Dark. Soft. Warm. Comfy, really, that's what it sounded like. Comfy. Mom's hugs comfy, before she stopped giving me those. Christmas cookies and milk comfy. My favorite streamer playing his favorite game comfy. I had to get me some of that.

I avoided my parents by using the back entrance. Amazon sold everything, so they definitely had to have cornered the market on comfy. After pages of sweatshop sweaters and novelty slippers I remembered something my therapist Brian mentioned before he told me that I probably didn't need meds and I dropped him, the douche. Weighted blankets! That had to be the answer. I ordered the second-best rated, wrote off most of my week's pay, and two anxious days later it was there at my door.

"How much was that?" my mother nagged. "Do you have the money for your share of the bills this month, or do your father and I - "

But I was already in my room unwrapping the blanket. Beads shifted around like compact sand as I hefted it out of the package. It felt heavy in my hands. And soft, and warm. Perfect. I opened the whole thing up wide and cocooned myself in it. Burrowed myself under a blanket with the weight of the Earth. I felt my problems hawking, the way birds circle above prairie dog homes, while I waited in the warm darkness. I knew then that I could wait forever if I had to. At least I'd be comfy.