I was just sitting down to write when I noticed a black horsefly on the screen window next to me. My reaction was pure instinct: shut the window closed, and then investigate. Sometimes a fly will be on the other side of the screen, giving the illusion that it’s trapped inside the house, but this guy was definitely inside, and now it was trapped, now it is trapped in this space in between the screen and the glass.
Now that the time for action has passed, I’m settling in to think about it, my first thoughts are, how did this fly get inside the house? Did something die in here? I’ve had squirrels in the basement before. This is New York City, so it’s not totally out of the question to assume mice or rats. And then the plausible gives way to the farfetched, to an imagined family of opossums setting up shop somewhere in the basement, camping out, leaving all sorts of garbage in their tracks, attracting flies, this fly in my window.
Or it could have just flown in through an opportune door opening, which is probably more likely. Now I’m stuck with this window closed right next to me. I’m deprived of my breeze. It’s summer and this overhead ceiling fan is only half of the equation, the other half being the open window from which new air comes in to replace the old air. I can feel the room, it’s a little bit less comfortable, the CO2 levels are definitely building up. I open up a window on the other side of the room, but it’s not providing the same direct circulation.
And this fly right next to me, it’s climbing up the screen, all the way to the top of the window, then it freaks out, I can hear the buzzing, and it’s back to the bottom, climbing up again. I guess there’s not really too much to do in there. And I start to feel bad.
Like, isn’t it just a little cruel for me to shut this fly in there, to sit around and wait for it to drop dead? How long does that take, at least a day or two, maybe three? Which doesn’t sound like a lot, not to a human anyway, but I remember that two or three days, that’s like an adult fly’s entire lifespan. It’s consigned to a life sentence of being trapped in that little space, the open world impossibly close, like it can probably reach its little feelers or whatever through the holes in the screen, maybe some of its fly friend might come up to it from the other side, shaking their heads back and forth, now you’ve done it bro, look what you’ve gotten yourself into.
I’m getting carried away. I’m anthropomorphizing this tiny cluster of nerves and wings. There’s no way it’s feeling anything. I think. I hope. I keep wondering what I would be like if I found myself in its position. I think that, for one thing, at least it has a little bit of space. I imagine me being trapped in a jail cell the size of a basketball court. So at least I could run around, or at least pace the perimeter, walk up and down and few times, try to keep my mind off the futility of my existence, the almost certain doom I was likely to face without any food or water.
But bad as I might feel for this little speck of existence, there’s no way I’m letting it out. Do you know how annoying a loose fly is inside a house? Even just one fly, it’s really, really irritating. They’re crazy fast, like where are they getting the energy from to fly back and forth across each room at such high speeds? And they’ll land on your leg every once in a while, or they’ll buzz really close to your ear and it’ll sound like a helicopter landing inside your head.
No, and then what? What if it’s pregnant? I’m going to get a fly infestation? No thanks. I had flies in the house when I lived in Ecuador. There weren’t any screens, so there were just always flies in the house, flies, June bugs, moths, frogs, no thanks. One time in college, yes, I lived like an animal, but for maybe a month, we had this fruit fly infestation. Fruit flies are a whole different type of nuisance, because while horseflies spend all of their time flying at high speeds across the whole house, fruit flies kind of just hover in one spot. And they’re so small that if you try to grab one, they just slip right through your fingers. It’s not happening
I just want this thing dead already. I want to not think about this fly, I want to open the window and have a very mess-free clean up, just pick it up with a napkin and throw it in the trash. But no, it’s going nuts. I’d go nuts too. I just have to put it out of my head for a while, not think about this little black dot at the periphery of my vision, a reminder of my mortality, a general symbol of all things slightly unpleasant.