The family dispute on the third upper eyelash on the left was getting so loud that the neighbours were beginning to grumble.
“It isn’t right,” old Grandma Demo, who lived one eyelash away, said. “Never a moment of peace and quiet since they moved in.”
“Oh, don’t be such a grouch, Grandma,” her little granddaughter, Folli, said. “Culo’s fun.”
“Maybe she is, I don’t know.” Grandma Demo would’ve glared if she’d had eyes. “But I’m not talking about your friend, I’m talking about her parents...and her brother.”
“You’re right there, Grandma,” Folli said judiciously. “Rum is a bit of a brat. Culo was telling me yesterday that –“
“Never mind what she told you. I’m talking about all their yelling.” Now Grandma Demo’s own voice was rising angrily. “Ever since they moved in it’s been so that nobody can find a bit of peace. It’s always screaming, screaming, at all hours of the day and night.”
“Hey, Grandma,” Dex, who lived over on the next eyelash, shouted. “Pipe down, can’t you. You’re getting too loud over there.”
“Pipe down?” Grandma bawled. “You dare to tell me to pipe down, Dex Mite? What about all the noise you make when you go out skin-crawling every night? Who are you to tell me to shut up?”
Folli closed off her ears to the noise and scraped at a drop of oil with her mandibles. She was getting quite good at ignoring shouting, really. Sometimes, Culo and she would compare notes on it.
Meanwhile the quarrel in the upper third eyelash was going on, as strong as ever.
“I don’t want to stay here,” Rum shouted, a bit muffled because of the fragmented tissue in his mandibles. “I want to go away on vacation.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” his father shouted, “or I’ll clout you one. If I’ve told you one time about politeness, I’ve told you a thousand –“
“You never let him have his say,” Rum’s mother, Bre, snapped. “It’s no wonder he acts out, not being able to say anything. Besides, you’re a fine one to talk about politeness. I remember back when I married you...”
“Vis went on vacation to the eyebrow last week,” Rum said, quite undaunted by his father’s threat. “He said it was great. I want to go on vacation to the eyebrow.”
“To the eyebrow?” his father spluttered, spewing out fragments of oil and debris. “Do you have any idea how far that is? How long it would take to get there?”
“They went there in a night,” Rum said. “And they came back in a night. So that’s how far it is.”
“What about the cost, then? Do you know how much it would cost?”
“If you only had been less exoskeleton-lazy,” his wife screamed, “you would’ve gone out and got a job, instead of eating oil all day long. And then we could’ve afforded a vacation once in a while.”
“A job doing what, exactly? You know the state of the labour market.”
“Did you even try to find a job, ever?” Bre yelled, her leg stumps quivering with fury, so that the eyelash vibrated slightly. “If I’d known what a deadbeat you were, I would’ve taken any of the other offers I was getting. Just look at you. You couldn’t cause rosacea if you tried.”
“I want to go to the eyebrow!” Rum yelled.
Both his parents rounded on him. “You shut up,” his mother snapped. “Almost ten days old, and you’d think by now you’d known how to stay out of adult’s talk, but no. What did I ever do to deserve you, I have no idea.”
“Listen to your mother,” his father added. “You should think of her once in a while, instead of your own selfish desires.”
Culo began backing carefully out of the hair follicle. She made it halfway before her parents noticed.
“And where are you going, missy?”
“I’m running away,” Culo said. “I just can’t stand it any longer. This constant squabbling is getting to me.”
“Running away, are you? And just where are you running to?” her mother asked.
Culo paused, trying to think of a reply. “Anywhere,” she said.
“If you take one step outside,” her father added, “you’re on your own. Do you get me?”
“It doesn’t matter anymore, dad,” Culo said wearily. “I’m tired of this. I’ll just move in with Folli.”
“And just what makes you think Folli would have you?”
“I just want to get some peace and quiet, OK?” Culo began backing out again. And as she did, someone poked her head cautiously over the hair follicle rim.
“Culo, is that you?” It was Folli. “Can I come in? I’ve run away.”
“I’ve run away too,” Culo said.
They both listened to the shouting inside and next door.
“Let’s run away together,” Culo suggested.
“Yes, let’s,” Folli agreed. “But where should we run away to?”
“The eyebrow,” Culo said. She giggled. “I hear it’s wonderful this time of year!”
Copyright B Purkayastha 2013