The Longest Dinner Party of My Life

I am a terminal host. My body is throwing a murder mystery party and all the guests will die. Spoiler alert: I am the murderer. Some guests will die soon from Z-Paks and herbal tinctures. Other guests will fight it out and meet their maker when I meet mine. Colonel Mustard, in the Study, with the Candlestick.

Before settling themselves into the proverbial retirement home of my body, these microbes had a long and full life. Jumping from ticks to mice, to deer, to more ticks; they lived it up. I imagine they had a blast. They had children. Their children had children, multiplying faster than jackrabbits. They summered in the blood of a mouse in charming Capitola by the Sea, and wintered in the woods of the Santa Cruz mountains, in the body of a doe. Eventually, they decided it was time to settle down, so they found their way from their most recent vacation home into the belly of a tick, and now ride the wave of retirement in my bloodstream.

You might think the idea of life as a terminal host terrifying. First, the word terminal is really only positive when you don’t have to walk very far at the airport.

Terminal never ends well.

I feel similarly about the word host. Playing host is exhausting. You have to smile. You have to remember people’s names. You have to feed them. Nobody brings hostess gifts to parties anymore, anyway. The premise of a terminal host doesn’t sound great.

It does have its downsides, playing forever microbe dream house. The upkeep is expensive. Drug after drug. Test after test. Just to see how close I am to a clean house. With each wave of medication — each murder in the Ballroom with the Lead Pipe by myself and Ms. Peacock — conditions improve, and then often worsen because I just can’t keep up with the rate of my residents’ reproduction. Like any party, it’s exhausting. They want me to feed them. They eat my red blood cells and enlarge my spleen. They disturb my sleep and cause me pain. They’re the party guests that never go home when they’re really too drunk to still be at your house. They suck. They should have called an Uber two hours ago. They’re the guests you never meant to invite anyway, because you just remembered you don’t actually like them.

I pity them, I do, these microbes that have settled in my body. This is the last party they’ll ever attend. Their Last Supper. Their final hurrah. I often wonder if they regret it. Do they wished they’d picked a less aggressive host? Perhaps one that served better food? Smiled more? Committed less time to committing them to the grave? Did they know they’d face Mrs. White in the Kitchen with the Rope so quickly when they decided to stay with their terminal host? Probably not. Just as I cannot predict the weather, my microbes cannot predict my murderous strategies.

The thing is, I’m not totally angry about my univited house guests. Sure, they’ve terminally altered my life. And I’m altering theirs. But the thing is, even though I never wanted them, they’re mine now. Because I’ve got a dining room full of microbes somewhere between my heart and my liver, and they’re not going anywhere. They’ll never leave me for a cooler host or a better party. They chose me for life. People say you die alone, but I’m not so sure anymore. We live together, my microbes and I. We throw parties for people. We go out on the town. We play Clue and watch movies. Sometimes we even sleep at night. One day, my microbes and I will die. But neither of us will die alone.