by Carmen Price
The fly hatched from Diana on a Tuesday morning.
Diana’s phone glowed like a blue half moon. The fly hovered above her as she scrolled though it. There were social media enmeshments to keep up with and hot takes to browse. The fly was relieved to have a different set of worries now, like how she would adjust to life with an exoskeleton and big-ass eyes. The exoskeleton was kind of a drag, but the big-ass eyes were an upgrade, and she scanned her surroundings. Diana’s bedroom was not as the fly remembered it. No books about the neurological history of warfare or love addiction, no plates of half-eaten macaroni and cheese. Mmmm. Macaroni and cheese. Vomit enzymes, dissolve, slurp. The fly was briefly revolted, but this was who she was now, head, thorax, abdomen and all.
The fly drifted closer to Diana and looked out a greasy window where a mulberry tree stood alone in thick grass. It didn’t make sense. Diana lived in a city of other people’s greasy windows, of stinking garbage. Hot garbage. Succulent. The fly’s labella watered, which disgusted her, but she kind of liked it.
Diana scrolled on. A troublesome thought jolted through the fly’s nerve ganglia: She was going to die. Maybe in a week, maybe in an hour. Maybe in a day. The specifics didn’t matter so much, the point was: soon. Flies had short life cycles. It was pretty upsetting to already be thinking about that three minutes into existence, and there was –
WHOOSH! (And Diana muttered: “Stupid fly.”)
The fly fled Diana’s giant swatting hand, out of the bedroom and into the hallway. I’m a creature of no size and little agency, she told herself, her wings flapping faster than neurons could fire, surrounded by walls of inky shadows.
Then, a velvety voice from nowhere called out to the fly.
“Oh thank God!” it said. “I’ve really got to get this off my chest.”
The fly cleared her thoracic muscles, and wondered if she could even speak.“I can’t see you,” the fly said hoarsely.
What looked to be a pearl covered in ash emerged from the darkest shadow on the wall at the hallway’s end
“I’m a Stegodyphus lineatus spider,” the elegant ash-pearl said. “Call me Linda.”
The fly said she was a fly.
“Could you come a little closer?” Linda asked. “I can’t really hear you.”
The fly told Linda she wasn’t stupid and didn’t want to be eaten. Linda claimed not to want to eat the fly.
“Spiders eat flies,” the fly said, “no hard feelings.”
“But you said you didn’t want to be eaten.”
The fly regarded Linda with her big-ass eyes. “Where’s your web?” she asked.
Linda didn’t have a web because she didn’t want to mate for real, because then her babies might eat her, and the fly decided to believe her because she could relate. She flew cautiously towards Linda, and then found herself in Diana’s room again.
This time Diana wasn’t alone. She leaned against opposite ends of her bed with a man, their legs crossed, his foot tracing her nipple. Shit. The fly recognized him immediately. She remembered how he’d made her want to crack open like a pomegranate and feed every ripe seed of herself to him with a spoon.
Diana was crying. “I don’t like you,” she said to the man, “you’re not nice to me. You don’t want me, but sometimes you show up, which just makes me want to swallow you even more. Is that love?”
That’s called an attachment disorder, Diana, the fly wanted to shout. She was pretty done with this, and even managed to roll her big-ass eyes. I’m out of here, she thought, and there must’ve been some kind of insect god because the greasy window now had a crack in it, and pale yellow sunlight beckoned, as did the mulberry tree, and fresh air, and even though she was suddenly terrified of breaking her wings, she gave herself over to risk.
The mulberry tree. That was where the fly’s future was, she was sure of it. Maybe she would die there, but also live her starburst of a life to the fullest.
In the long grass, however, she spotted a puddle of mulberry pulp, oozing yet stagnant. It was every unknown of which she’d ever been afraid, every little morsel of joy she’d avoided for responsibility’s sake, the most brilliant shade of ruby brown purple and it stunk. She dove in.
It was rotten and delicious.
About Carmen Price
Carmen Price is a teacher and writer based in Stockholm, Sweden. Like many a good millennial, she collects houseplants, including a feisty little ficus and a fig tree. So far she’s doing a pretty good job of keeping them alive.