The Low, Malicious Hum

The ceiling was too high for a little girl, but not for the fly. Nothing restricts the fly, neither is anything impossible. The little girl knew this well. She was nothing like the fly, did not have the audacity of the fly. Such fearlessness was simply out of the question.

A fear of flies— audible, zooming, fuzzy, black, blue and brown erratic little balls had plagued the six year old’s life. Such a phobia had stretched those tiny years out of form.

The girl’s mother was frustrated by this. How can such a child fill the position of being a child with such a tiresome fear? How then, can that child become an adult if she has already been crushed by such inevitabilities, like a buzz?

“Since there is nothing too insignificant to a fly, nothing too well hidden,” the mother had once asked her little girl, “how do you intend to go about your life without meeting one?”

“By shutting every window,” the little girl had said without a pause or a blink, “by closing every door behind me, by covering myself in fly repellant chemicals.”

The mother frowned.

“No little girl,” she said, “you will not be able to breathe in such a house, nor will you spend your days in doors, nor will you damage your skin with strong chemicals.”

A day came when the mother and her little girl intended to go shopping in the town. The mother had bundled the girl in her little red puffer, had taken care to ensure the sleeves of her jumper had not bunched up uncomfortably within. She’d crouched beside the girl to coach her through her shoe laces. Now, as the mother opened the front door of their flat, she was met with an opportunity in the corridor.

Metallic blue and molten green bolted past her line of vision. The low, malicious humming of a blue bottle had seized the high-ceilinged space between their door, and the much heavier door of the shared building.

So today will be the day, the mother knew. Such a day had come for the little girl to recover her life, a perfectly crisp, pale wintery day. A fly had arrived in on the cold air, had become excitable in the unprecedented warmth.

The mother narrowed her eyes. She turned back to peer into her open doorway. The little girl, who, had she heard the commotion, would’ve shrunk away from the door long ago, was instead unzipping her coat.

“Zip it back up.”

“But it’s not cold enough Mama,” the little girl whined.

“Okay,” said the mother with hidden guile, being that the plan had seemingly hatched itself, “go and stand out there, out there in the draft with your unzipped coat, and wait for Mummy.”

The little girl’s eyes became beady, her face round and smug.

“Fine,” the girl crossed her arms, “but if I don’t feel the cold, I’m not going to wear it.”

The girl flounced into the big corridor. The mother shut the door behind her. And almost immediately, within seconds of the door meeting the frame with finality, the mother heard the wail.

“Mama!” A small fist whacked the door, “Mama there’s a fly out here!”

“It’s not going to hurt you,” said the mother, standing a mere two inches away from her daughter, “it’s not going to hurt you love.”

“I need to come in!”

The mother could hear the tears rippling on her daughter’s waterline.

The mother paused, then she said, “no. I’ve told you to wait for me there.”

She could here the little girl’s rowdy, quick footsteps. There was nowhere to go though, for the girl was too small to reach the latch on the heavier door, and too obedient. There was the sounds of hysterics, of hair-raising grief that grated in the hollow silence. Such whines and noisy cries align themselves with barbarity. The mother, though her heart raced, felt no remorse.

The fly dipped and danced around the girl. It cared not for the girl’s wet face, did not thrive off her darting around, or her eventual collapse to the ground to hug her knees. The little girl however did not know that the fly did not care about her, and would not of believed it if she had. The fly she knew was the sort to climb into her ears and rattle inside of her skull forever. There on the floor amidst the dry chunks of mud and dust, she wondered whether she’d ever see her mother again.

Two of the seven long minutes took place in complete silence. The mother was ready now, and only felt a sliver of apprehension for what she might find on the other side of the door.

She swung it open with buoyancy. The mother emerged. The little girl was standing by the main door. There was no buzz, loud or faint. The mother pressed her eyes firmly into the girl. The little girl, albeit, shiny eyed, had wiped her tears. Her coat was zipped to her neck. She did not smile when she said to her mother,

“I think it’s gone now.”

The mother smiled at her daughter’s head angled to the sky, “did it hurt you?”

The girl remained silent for a minute, then she said, “yes. But now that it has,” she remarked, “I don’t think it will ever hurt me again.”

The mother shut their front door. She took her daughter by the hand.

“I think I’d like Mcdonald’s for lunch today,” said the mother.

The little girl didn’t say anything.

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