Survival of the Fittest

An illustration of a hand holding a cockroach.

Written in the form of a stage play script, Ara’s work managed to convey the essence of queer ecology as originally theorised by Timothy Morton. In the words of their cockroach character, “Gay penguins, lesbian squirrels, bisexual dolphins, sex-changing fishes… all sorts of things are out there. Nature doesn’t have a label for all these things.” Who could say no to a cockroach philosopher?

Trigger warning: This story contains a depiction of a suicide attempt.

Quiet. We see a dark, empty room. A dim light falls upon a chair, a noose hanging above it. A person staggers into the room. They sit, crying. After a while, they slowly step onto the chair and reach for the noose. They are about to hang themself when a cockroach flies in and smacks onto their face.
    COCKROACH
Stop right there!

    X
Crap—a talking cockroach!?

    COCKROACH
Yeah. I’m not going away till we have a talk.

    X
Get off me!

    COCKROACH
You can’t move till we’re done talking.

    X
Shoot. Fine.

    COCKROACH
Now, why are you doing this?

    X
Because I don’t want to live.

    COCKROACH
Why?

    X
I shouldn’t be alive. I’m… unnatural.

    COCKROACH
Anything that exists is natural.

    X
Yeah, but… I’m weird. I’m neither a man nor a woman.

    COCKROACH
So? You have a body and it works, right?

    X
But I hate my body.

    COCKROACH
But it works to keep you alive. That’s the body’s job. Now your job is to decide what to do with it.

    X
But I should do what a man or a woman does, right?

    COCKROACH
And who decides that? It’s your body. Us cockroaches just eat, explore, socialise, reproduce. But humans, you give meaning to these things. You make things as simple or as complicated as you want.

    X
But what if I like… you know…?

    COCKROACH
You’re not special. Gay penguins, lesbian squirrels, bisexual dolphins, sex-changing fishes… all sorts of things are out there. Nature doesn’t have a label for all these things. Maybe you shouldn’t either. We’re simply celebrating the diversity of living beings!

    X
I still don’t see my life worth celebrating.

    COCKROACH
Then celebrate being alive in the chaos of things.

    X
Chaos?

    COCKROACH
Yes. In the chaos of the universe, ecosystems somehow created you. You exist.
 
    X
Living is exhausting when people hate you.

    COCKROACH
Hey, look at me! I survive off the scraps and margins of society! Humans despise me but still I survive! I thrive on spite! I outlive all expectations!
    (beat)
We figure things out and see if they work out. If they do, great. If they don’t, we fall, we cry, we complain, then we figure out how to do things differently.  

    X
Sounds stupid.
 
    COCKROACH
Trying is never stupid.
 
    X
I guess…
 
    COCKROACH
So, before you do anything else tonight, I will give you a task: figure out who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to live, then try it. Try it before you decide nothing else works out. Can you do that?
 
    X
Not sure if I can…
 
    COCKROACH
If you can’t, then I’ll keep you company the whole night. 

    X
Fine. I’ll try.
 
    COCKROACH
Try what?
 
    X
I’ll try to figure out who I am and how to live on my own terms.
 
    COCKROACH
Good. That’s what I want to hear.
 
    X
Getting complimented by a cockroach isn’t on my goals though.
 
    COCKROACH
    (laughing)
You have to live it to believe it.
Cockroach flies off the room. The person slowly steps down. They fall back on the chair and try to take a deep breath.
    COCKROACH
    (off stage)
May those that fit who they truly are survive.

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