It had been a sultry early summer day in the city, and we had spent most of it in air conditioned comfort. My husband was asleep upstairs because he worked nights. The children had been outside playing in the sprinkler and wading pool, occasionally coming in, but usually remembering to close the screen door of the foyer each time before opening the kitchen door to keep the cool air in and flies out.
I went out to pick vegetables for dinner, brought them in, finished final preparations, and then called the children to eat. While cooking, nothing had been unusual so as I prepared to serve dinner and saw two fat flies buzz by, it wasn’t out of the ordinary – this kind of thing sometimes happens in warm weather – but they would disrupt dinner.
I got the swatter, killed them in the windows, hung it up and prepared to serve dinner…and two more flew by.
Annoyed, I got the swatter and hunted them down. I put them in the garbage, turned to the stove…then two more flew by.
Odd, but it was only two. Perhaps we hadn’t been careful enough with the door, but why hadn’t I seen them before? I grimly pursued and eliminated them, and as I dropped them in the garbage…two more flew by.
I rapidly searched the air. Where had they come from? How many was that now – eight? With that many flies they should have been buzzing everywhere before! I pursued them with mounting intensity.
In the midst of the fray an idea I had been suppressing became a conscious thought: a few days ago we had found a particularly large slug in the garden and, instead of killing it we brought it inside and put it in a terrarium with a lid to observe it. Somehow (??) it had escaped and we hadn’t located it yet. No… I dismissed the thought.
The uncanny pattern continued. They came by two’s. Relentlessly.
I would eliminate a pair…then two more would fly by.
I moved plants and other items away from the windows to allow for clear shots. As my eyes darted around the room after each skirmish, I started muttering “OK, where are the next two?” for they appeared without fail.
The children were now crying that they were hungry, but I was past attending. It all became a blur. When my husband came down at 8:30 p.m., the remains of over 20 flies were in the waste basket…then two more flew by.
I paused just long enough to quickly serve the children, but for me there was no time; the battle wasn’t over. I strove on. My husband grabbed the other swatter and joined the fray by taking a position in the living and dining room.
By 9:30 p.m., darkness was nearly total and we were up to 30…then one more flew by. Just one.
Victory was within our grasp! I chased it up into the fluorescent fixture where it became trapped inside. I left it to die of starvation – that was good enough for me!
The children had long since gone up to their rooms, and as I finished my own long-delayed dinner and cleaned up I wondered, not for the last time, how there could have been so many without me seeing any of them before. Just where had they come from – a bad potato, onion, or something I had missed? I had checked everything. Certainly not the windows, they were new. The enigma remained, but the onslaught seemed to be finally over.
As the trapped fly buzzed futilely in the fixture up above, one more flew by and vanished into the darkened living room.