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Fiction

Horsefly

By Ariana Hughes

A fiction piece from the Summer 2021 issue.

by Ariana Hughes | Fiction | Summer 2021

Self Portrait by Chloe Casdagli

Just as I was finishing up my philosophy reading, and literally on Kant’s last few sentences, I became aware of a large horsefly
that had somehow flown into Lulu’s room. I always wondered how
these miscellaneous bugs crept their way in, and why they chose to stay. Was the space really so welcoming? The boisterous air conditioning unit fizzing, the ceiling fan hissing as it sliced through the air, our feet tapping with jerky energy as we threw ourselves into our numerous readings and assignments. Perhaps it was the leftover nibbles from a day-old scone that sat in the corner, a mellow iced tea that had become diluted and drab since the loss of its ice cubes. Was it really so amusing? Better than the vast openness of outside? This particular horsefly was wandering around in a vaguely threatening sort of way and then suddenly, distressingly, throwing itself into the air, zig-zagging awkwardly, clearly confused by the constraints of the space. It gradually zoomed closer, and I tensed up. It zagged towards me and then zigged back and then zagged closer still. Finally, I had enough.

Just as I was finishing up my philosophy reading, and literally on Kant’s last few sentences, I became aware of a large horsefly that had somehow flown into Lulu’s room. I always wondered how these miscellaneous bugs crept their way in, and why they chose to stay. Was the space really so welcoming? The boisterous air conditioning unit fizzing, the ceiling fan hissing as it sliced through the air, our feet tapping with jerky energy as we threw ourselves into our numerous readings and assignments. Perhaps it was the leftover nibbles from a day-old scone that sat in the corner, a mellow iced tea that had become diluted and drab since the loss of its ice cubes. Was it really so amusing? Better than the vast openness of outside? This particular horsefly was wandering around in a vaguely threatening sort of way and then suddenly, distressingly, throwing itself into the air, zig-zagging awkwardly, clearly confused by the constraints of the space. It gradually zoomed closer, and I tensed up. It zagged towards me and then zigged back and then zagged closer still. Finally, I had enough. Grabbing the laborious Kant I gave it a good thwack. The horsefly vanished from the air, lost for a delightful moment. Not dead or seemingly anywhere, lost in the void—and then it reappeared on the floor. Crawling, thankfully, toward Lulu. At this point the energy of the horsefly had seeped into us both, no problem or assignment could be handled until this criminal of distraction could be apprehended. Lulu commented on the somewhat bent wing it was now dragging oddly and I realized I must be responsible for this critter. At this stage, I understood that action had to be taken. The horsefly had to be put out of the misery that was this room and the thwack I had inflicted upon it. I had put it in misery, it had put me in misery. Now the misery needed to end. I held all the power. Kant was not powerful enough to take out this suffering brute, my laptop much too personal, too clean. I turned to my water bottle, it would have to suffice. And so I tracked it across the room, as it hobbled, perhaps suspecting its moments were numbered. I hesitated, and then brought the bottom of my metal water bottle straight down with an awful bang. Leaving it there for a moment, sucking in air rapidly, feeling a rush of shame. Postponing my view of whatever horror lay underneath. I raised the water bottle to find the fly dying, twitching its broken legs and wings. I brought the bottle down hard again, still moving, again, and again, harder and faster, not stopping to look at the horsefly. I was a mindless pulsing Cuisinart. When I finally stopped, it was nothing but a mush of legs and wings and horrible bug insides. Thankfully Lulu had a tissue at the ready. For a moment I felt the texture of its dead mush under the thin surface of the tissue. And then it was in the trash can, gone… problem solved… I retreated back to Kant. No more horsefly. An empty room. Lulu and I shared a nervous glance as we turned back to whatever it was that we had been doing before. The silent tension of the awful murder that had just been committed felt louder than the buzzing of the bug. Lulu tried playing music but kept skipping the songs… how could we relax and read and listen to music about love and heartbreak when we had so willingly taken a life? Not we, I. I had sacrificed another, an innocent! No, not totally innocent—a life for the benefit of my own. And all I could do was sit and avoid Kant, revolving in my guilt and the absurd amount of power I had been given. The bug was not coming back so I needed to accept its fate and move forward with my life and feel fortunate that I would never be squashed into a carpeted floor by a metal water bottle. But a rush of emotions took over, I could have trapped it with a cup, the tissue I had used for its dead carcass could have been a landing pad for a flight out of the window, I could have allowed it to continue zooming around the room—maybe it liked the small space, the nervous energy, the old scone and tea. Maybe it liked us. I couldn’t face Kant. I couldn’t face Lulu. So I took a moment for the horsefly, closed my eyes, sent out my best wishes, a silent apology, an admission of guilt, a promise to be better… 

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