I told my friend J. that two worrying things had happened recently and I was a little low. Instead of offering comfort that my run of dumb luck was over she looked wistfully into the middle distance.
‘You know bad things does happen in three’s. You have another thing coming.’
Having confirmed my fate was sealed she turned her attention back to her Caesar salad. I pushed my lunch away.
‘Three bad things?’
‘Yup,’ she nodded, her mouth still full of lettuce. ‘I sure as God make Moses one more thing going happen.’
Perhaps my crumbling face made her take pity and she squeezed my hand.
‘Don’t worry. Is just one more nasty slap and boops you done.’

From that moment on I was constantly on the look out for situations of impending doom. I barely slept and woke anxious that each new morn might be when The Third Bad Thing occurred. It’s been a week of this unremitting dread. Mainly I dread something rotten happening to my immediate posse. Will First or Second Born have a sailing accident? Will the next time I wave goodbye to The Husband at the airport be the last as his plane crashes? Will Jack or Rosie escape Beacon House and be run over by a speeding car? Other times the angst is more selfish. Will my hard drive suddenly crash before I have time to back up? Will I ever find an agent for my novel?

While these fears have been whirling around something odd has also been happening. Every time things don’t go too wrong I am grateful. When a driver tried unsuccessfully to sideswipe my car by Norman Niles roundabout I was grateful not to have had an accident. My usual response would have been to cuss the offending driver starting with his materfamilias and working my way through his entire clan. When First and Second Born came to blows over ownership of a t-shirt showing Bob inhaling a huge spliff I was grateful it ended without actual blood shed. Besides you can hardly see the rip if a boy tucks the t-shirt into his jeans. And as another rejection popped up on my Gmail (Dear Author, We are not sufficiently enthusiastic about your manuscript to offer representation…) I didn’t shed a tear. It wasn’t personal – hell they hadn’t even taken the time to know my name. With gratitude filling my life I was convinced that J. was wrong. I had dodged The Third Bad Thing.

But fate can only ever be postponed. If town say bad things going happen in three’s you better resign yourself and take your licks. So to round off the week not one, not two but three centipedes attempted to take up residence with us. (And FYI the proper small rock pronunciation is sen-tee-pee – the ‘d’ has been dispensed with). Some of you from foreign may not fully appreciate the gravity of this situation. Bimshire is, as its name suggests, an island of tranquil bliss. We trample through the countryside safe in the knowledge that we are free of poisonous snakes. And when we venture off terra firma into azure waters we have no fear of sharks having our limbs for lunch.

Yet even in paradise we must be reminded of how lucky we are and that role falls to the centipede. It is a disgusting, frightening, worm–like creature that slithers at some pace. It doesn’t actually have a hundred feet – our lot usually have about fifteen to twenty gruesome pairs. If you get bitten there will be pain and swelling, maybe fever and possibly shock. Buddhists warn that if you enjoy frightening others you will be reincarnated as none other than a centipede.

The first one – about 20 cm – crawled into The Husband’s office perhaps intending to study economics and finance at his feet. He claims he fearlessly decapitated the creature but I know better. He’s a vegetarian who has trouble killing mosquitoes. Our housekeeper confirmed its poisonous front claws had been crushed and the horrible creature thrown in the bush.

Jack’s incessant barking a few days later alerted us to the second centipede. The creepy, dark red creature – even longer than the first – was rushing around under the dining table. M., an Englishman with a properly stiff upper lip, instructed me to stop screaming and get him a broom. In one action he swept the centipede out from the darkness and then used the broom handle to whack the flattened body into three parts. My terror was quickly replaced by gratitude and I knew in that instant that I would be willing to share my last dhal-pouri roti and curry channa with him.

By the time I shook the third centipede out from between some cushions on the front porch I was not quite the same shaking, bawling person I had been during the previous incident. I simply went inside, locking the door behind me and called an emergency service
‘You have a what?’ asked the first responder.
‘I have a centipede in the porch.’
‘You expect us to come catch a centipede? Is how much centipede you have?’
‘Just the one. But it’s big and poisonous. I could die if it bites me.’
‘Lady, unless you bite the thing first I don’t think nothing going happen to you.’
He hung up.
But it wasn’t my time to go just yet. The housekeeper answered her phone and was more sympathetic. She came, severed head from body of the thick, long beast and threw it into the deep gully that straddles our land.

It’s over. The third unpleasant thing has happened and it did so three times. I’m due a bit of good luck any day now.

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