The Second War of the Flies


In the morning I go to the kitchen and I smile. I’m at the age that a clean kitchen in the morning makes me happy. Since I spend my early mornings there working, it makes me extra happy. N between these times, I often wonder what disappointment my twenty-year-old self would regard me with.

The table is clean. The counter is clean. I rub my finger along the stainless-steel stovetop and find embarrassing happiness at the cleanly squeak it makes. I click the coffee maker. It’s when I turn on the tap that something disconcerting happens.

Something takes off. From the sink. Correction: somethings.

Fruit flies.

I’ve dealt with these guys before.

It was 2016 when I first dealt with fruit flies. Not really, but 2016 was the first time I cared that I had fruit flies. In the two decades before that, I acknowledged fruit flies as annoying little roommates that moved in during the summer and died in the fall. They didn’t pay rent and they only ate stuff off the counter, but I didn’t like them. They were flying around like shrapnel. Also they were judgmental. The way they flew around and made jokes about my cleaning ability in the voice of the third-grade nun.

In 2016 I waged a war of cleaning products and internet hacks.

I begin a similar campaign in 2020.

“Good morning, guys!” I say each morning when I get into the kitchen. I spend three days swatting at fruit flies like King Kong did airplanes. The counter is littered with small brown smashed corpses. But this isn’t adequate. I go to the internet.

“Good morning, guys!” I say as I come in the kitchen. The counter is an obstacle course of cellophane-covered jars with a few ounces of wine, lemon slices, and apple cider vinegar. The windows are open all night so the kitchen is frigid by morning. Throughout the day I go into the kitchen a check the jars.

“Good morning, guys,” I say throughout the day.  

The fruit flies seem more stubbornly resilient.

In 2016 I found joy in my daily victories. In 2020, this is not the case. Perhaps with so much stress and death occurring throughout the spring and summer, I feel bad being the grim reaper to another species. I lose my stomach for killing.

“Good morning, guys,” I say when I come in at the end of the week. I sit in the kitchen table and take out my journal. I write for a few minutes. “How’s it going?”

They don’t answer, of course, but they pause in the air and hang there for a minute. A collective “Eh, fine.” I wash out the jars and put them away. I don’t smash the guys when they land and no more King Kong. I encourage them to fly and land as they want. I close the window. I try to protect the little fuckers.

When my cat catches one, I realize that they are slowing down. They are dying. The war is over. I leave out grapefruit rinds with no booby traps attached. They gather round me as I write and work. We sign a contract. Well, I sign, they float in slow zigzags. The war is over.     

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