A few posts ago I mentioned a free story. So, here’s a flash fiction I wrote in 2006. It first appeared in the ezine Shadowed Pathways in June of that year and then as a PDF download from Dark Reveries in December, again, same year. Both magazines are now defunct, unfortunately. It’s an oldie of mine, but I think it holds a certain…charm.
by Steven J. Dines
I hate Caitlyn and flies. I hate how you land casually on her dinner plate and gorge yourself on her half-eaten Penne with pink vodka sauce. And I hate the sound of the rain rapping on our apartment window like a thousand of your associates, all of them desperate to get inside. The swatter whistles as I bring it down on the plate, and you vanish like a fleck of dust blinked from my eye. I wonder if you were ever there. I swat again, and tubes of pasta fall to the carpet like spent shells.
Ah, there you are. Up there. Boxing the ceiling light when a circle or an ellipse would make more sense. Christ, even insects contradict me. I take a wild swing and there’s a loud pop and suddenly the room is plunged into darkness. You buzz past my ear and I start cursing her for leaving, for not giving a good enough reason, for boxing around my pleas.
In the bedroom, I hunt for a flashlight, but when I hear you buzz into the room behind me I turn around. You land, nearly camouflaged, on the tip of a black-topped biro.
Caitlyn liked to steal pens. If she saw one lying unattended on a desk at work, she took it because she thought it was lonely. She would’ve become one of those old women who take in stray cats. Me, I would’ve remained one of those old men who think they’re vermin. Maybe she was right about us being wrong. Now I don’t know what the future holds. She’s left four coffee mugs of lonely pens lying on her dresser. Squatting on the pen tip, you flex your wings. The swatter comes down hard and fast, and when I check it I’m disappointed to find you’re not slowly peeling away from the underside. Meanwhile, the pens are everywhere.
I follow you into the white-tiled bathroom. It is easier to see you in here; easier to swing. I remember Caitlyn tried to yank me away from the toilet when I dangled the silver necklace I bought her for our second anniversary. “Don’t. Give it back. It doesn’t belong to you.” According to her, nothing belonged to me. I let go of the necklace and she surged forward, pushed me aside, and then thrust her arm into the toilet water. I grabbed a fistful of her hair and punched her face against the rim. The necklace faded under water quickly turning red.
I see you.
There, on the back of Caitlyn’s neck.
I raise the swatter, take aim, and bring it down. There is a loud, satisfying, but cold snap.
“Got you,” I say, the words echoing off the tiles.
That toilet seat’s been up three days now. She used to complain about me leaving it like that. So, I put it down—with her still lodged under there and too large, right now, to flush.
I loved that woman.
But I hate the flies.