Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)
TITLE: The Bluebottle Fly
By Cecile Hurst
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Outside the world flew by in waves of green. Palm trees and tiered rice paddies, ginkgos and stagnant lagoons. She hadn’t realized there was this much green left in the world.
Lolling her head from side to side she studied the space the word ‘ginkgo’ left in her mouth. Maidenhair-tree, it was also called, which proved it native to Asia. The thick fan-shaped leaves perfectly mirrored the shiny black manes of the petite Asian women, so very unlike her with her dull dishwater mop that only thinned as it grew longer.
The languid sounds of meaningless conversation ebbed as noon approached. Even the bluebottles calmed down in the heat. She hovered close, barely breathing as she moved in to take a better look at the metallic glint of their bodies reflecting off the smudged pane. Their large crimson eyes were finally still and their delicately veined transparent wings lay soft like twin silk canopies against their backs. The annoying things were beautiful.
Out of sheer boredom she leaned over and dipped the end of her pencil in a gooey puddle of black fan oil and then, as conscious as a lioness, crept her hand up the grimy train wall until, with a precise dart, she dabbed an opaque glob on the bottom of one of the largest flies. The thing buzzed and cursed at her, dancing left and right until it settled far away and began to clean itself much like a cat – legs up and over, legs up and over, legs up and over. Her cruelty amused her.
The old man with the Double Lucky cigarettes across from her muttered something and nudged his granddaughter beside him who’d been reading Doreamon books the entire time.
“My grandfather says flies never visit an egg that has no crack,” said the child, not taking the time to look up from the Japanese entertainment.
“Your grandfather’s a whack-job,” she retorted cheerfully, knowing full well there was no way the little girl would know how to translate 'whack-job'.
Slowly the world outside the train darkened and cooled like lava. At home she remembered the world looking soft at night. Here it looked sharp and jagged. She continued to eye the night warily as the first houses fled past, then stores which joined to paved roads, which led to taller buildings and lampposts until finally skyscrapers towered overhead. She gave a low sigh as the train groaned to a stop. Disembarking felt like arriving at a concentration camp. Flutes crackled over the loudspeakers as people shoved silently, funneling themselves onto the only escalator where, at the top, they scattered.
She scattered along with them and found herself finally in her stuffy little apartment at the end of a mango lined drive where, from her porch, she could still see Banana Man outside hoping to pawn off the last motley bunches of browned yellow fruit.
‘Flies never visit an egg that has no crack.’ Of all the stupid Chinese idioms to get stuck in her head…
Dumping her things unceremoniously atop a litter of her shoes and assorted umbrellas she made her way to the bathroom, peeling off articles of clothing and dropping them like breadcrumbs on her way. She took a long shower, washing every bit of grime from the train ride out of her hair. Exiting through a cloud of steam she didn’t give a second look to the mess, going straight to the bedroom and falling exhausted on the bed. After sitting for eight hours it felt great to be prostrate.
‘Flies never visit an egg that has no crack.’ This time she listened. “An egg that has no crack… so don’t leave cracked eggs out. Flies like the smell of eggs. Flies only go were decay is to follow.” She smiled. That one sounded every bit as good as the original. She frowned. What had the old man been saying? That she was like a fly? What? She was decaying? She was the crack? “Maddening!”
She thought of the oil marked bluebottle fly as her eyelids drooped and felt sorry for what she’d done. Feeling foolish yet urged, she threw the penance up to God and smiled as she thought of her heart cracking – and God visiting. Then she fell asleep.
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