What is a fly? To a person, these insignificant pests are worth nothing more than a speck of dust on a disused shirt or a crumb of an unappetizing food left to rot on the floor. Compared to the behemoths of humanity, there is seemingly no purpose to these annoyingly persistent insects. However, there is an unseen side to these bugs that people seldom get to see. I am one of those awful beings that you humans seem to despise so much. I write this memoir in my dying hour in the hopes that one day, these gargantuan bullies to my kind shall understand our lives and struggles. If you are reading this, then this goal has been accomplished and I can now rest in peace. Here is the story of my life; I sincerely hope that it can change your mind about us flies.
My story begins on the fourteenth of May in the year of two thousand and seventeen, otherwise referred to as Mother’s Day by humans. Oh, what a bittersweet day this would be. Little did I know at the time of my birth, but my life would be too short as evidenced by my current dying condition. Did you know that houseflies can really live upwards of a month? Of course you didn’t. You’re the most ignorant of all of nature’s creations: a person. In my case however, I would be part of that stereotypical group to succumb to death within twenty-four hours of being born. My death wasn’t naturally wrought, but we’ll get to that later.
It was morning when I first escaped from my pupa prison. After being in the dark for so long, the sudden splashes of colors from the recently risen sunrise immediately blinded the many parts of my extremely powerful eyes. Of course our compound eyes are able to see light from every direction, but you probably don’t know that either. Slowly, I began to adjust to the light which I had nearly forgotten during my gestation period. The vast, awesome heavens spread out before me in the manner that it had for every baby the first time they bore witness to the sky.
In the next couple of hours before the other residents of my house awoke, I got accustomed to my body and surroundings. As a human, you probably don’t know how weird it is to have more than a couple legs, but I can assure you that it is certainly a unique attribute. On my six walking appendages, I had little hairs that would transmit how everything around me tasted. I can most definitely say that musty attic air in the middle of a damp morning is not a pleasant first taste for such a child. With time, my wings began to dry off from my long period inside of my old pupa. I must say that stretching my wings must have felt very similar to how it feels when a human wakes up in the morning and stretches their arms with a great yawn and a burst of satisfaction.
When it comes to primal instincts, flies are no exception. Just as a young child learns to crawl, I soon picked up the skills of rudimentary flight through a series of painful exercises in trial and error. Flies aren’t meant to endure much impact, so I always tend to remember this particular period of time with a wince and a groan from the aching ghost of pain.
At long last, my neighbors woke up from their sleep just as I had done earlier in the morning. After hearing the sounds of life beneath my feet, I proceeded to search for an egress from my home in order to see my roommates for the next month. If I had only known what laid in store for me…
The house belonged to a small family: a mother, father, and a young girl. There was an evident love between each of the people that I had never seen nor experienced before. If the question of my family has arisen into your mind yet, let me satisfy your curiosity. Let’s just say that I was a late bloomer. By the time I had come out of my pupa, I had been long abandoned by my friends and loved ones with only a multitude of discarded membranes and fluids to show that they had ever been there at all. I was thus forced to grow up alone for the first couple of hours of my life. However, I began to feel like part of the family of the household once I had listened to their morning conversations and words of love.
As they sat down for breakfast, I decided to go and greet my newfound friends. In the manner of a gentleman, I flew down to their table and slowly approached the hand of the young girl. After carefully inspecting the situation and tasting the delicious odors of eggs and bacon on the air, I deliberately climbed onto the hand of the child. In response to my polite introduction, the entire family immediately exploded into a frenzy of excitement and distress. Not only did the girl start to cry after she saw my slick figure on her hand, but she also tried to slap me. SLAP ME! That is no way to properly meet a guest in one’s home if you ask me. Nonetheless, the humans essentially lost their minds in a quest to kill me before I could antagonize anyone else. I rapidly flew from the table before the massive, looming hands of the adults could catch me in their grips of certain death. I flew with both regret and fear back to my place of observation.
It was there that I would ponder my existence for the first time in my brief life. Why would such a creature as I be put on this Earth only to repulse the likes of the family with whom I was sharing a house? What purpose do I serve? Could I ever be happy? Don’t act like you have never thought about these things because you would be lying. I realized that if I had died in that moment, nobody would have ever missed me. I can guarantee that not one of those glorious monsters has ever thought about the millions of my brethren that they have murdered without a second thought. Humans worry about how they will do on their frivolous tests or how much money they make, but they will never know true stress. Genuine anxiety is when you see the motion of a hand coming from the side to slap the life out of you. Real fear is knowing that a monster could, at any second, appear to kill you. Sincere stress is feeling the air around you whirl with the movement of a descending, murderous hand. Until a godlike being conspires to kill you and nearly succeeds in doing so, you will never know what true fear is.
And in that fateful corner I would sit in fear for many hours to come. Throughout the day, the family went about their business as if I wasn’t there. However, they did decide to get out the dreaded fly swatter as a means of intimidation. It worked. Even as the smells of sweet, rotting bananas from the counter, delicious garbage from the can, and the chicken roasting in the oven for dinner wafted up to me, I would not be coerced into moving ever again… that is, until I got hungry. Of course, nature took over and a growling from below told me that I needed to eat.
After waiting for the humans to leave the room, I cautiously flew down to the open waste basket and proceeded to feast. Not only were there the remains of food, but someone had also thrown a Coke into the garbage that day. The sugary crystals of pure sweetness dissolved in my saliva and I fell into a state of pure bliss. My moment was ruined yet again by a human menace who unknowingly closed up the bag and effectively trapped me inside with all of the garbage. Although I was content to stay among the trash, I knew that humans had a disregard for such things, and I realized that certain doom awaited me if I were to stay in my bag. After coming to this realization, I covertly crept out of the small hole at the top of the bag and flew back towards my hiding spot.
However, I was drawn off course by something even sweeter than the days-old banana peels that I had just digested: the sounds of the little girl playing and singing with her dolls. I followed these pleasant vibrations to a bright pink room. Inside, I saw my young roommate lying on the floor with a few of her dolls. Without hesitation, I hurriedly found another vantage point and began to observe this change of scenery. It was on top of the door frame that I eventually found a place where I could remain undisturbed. From there, I watched how the little girl would play and laugh to the point where I found myself vibrating along to her giggles. She was truly a magical child.
Stupidly, I decided to try and greet her again. I tried to rationalize this decision for a long time before actually making my move. I approached like I had last time, except I knew that there were no big humans to pose a major threat to my wellbeing at that moment. After I had warily moved toward her, she stiffened and looked at me with a fearful look. How is it possible that a human, albeit a young one, be afraid of me when she is more than capable of crushing the life out of me with a single swat of her hand? It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but I think I understand it now in retrospect. I think my unpredictability scared her in the same way that her parents had inspired fear in me.
I didn’t know what to expect. I had hoped for a warmer reception than last time, but that was not to be the case. With an antennae-splitting scream, the little girl rapidly alerted her parents to my whereabouts. They were there before I could take off and hide once more. I watched, helplessly, as the father reared his great paw back and violently smacked me across the room. I laid there stunned for a good amount of time. That awful man had destroyed my tiny body. I felt my legs broken, my thorax cracked, and my wings torn.
That night I hobbled carefully across the house back to my previous safe house near the attic. With unimaginable agony, I used whatever strength I had left to lift my sad, decrepit body up into my home. I rapidly lost my strength and spirit after that. Within an hour, I felt my life beginning to ebb. There I sat, wondering what I should do in my final hours.
I began to think back on my limited lifespan and the goals that I had accomplished. I recognized how beautiful some aspects of the world could be. There would never be a sight more glorious than the sunrise nor a taste as wonderful as the fermented banana peels and soda. There would never be as good a feeling as stretching my wings for the first time and flying. There would never be anything as amazing and profoundly moving than the show of love between the members of the family with whom I shared my residence. It was during this moment that I realized that flies aren’t that different than humans.
We too can bask in the beauty of nature’s gifts. We too can feel the sensations of pleasure and happiness. We too can feel love toward others. We too can experience the worst of pains.
I sit here in the present and wish only for you, the reader, to understand that we can live like any other creature on this planet. No matter how grotesque we may appear or how annoying we may be, flies are still living, breathing beings with feelings and the ability to live life to its fullest extent.
As I feel the worst of my death pains coming upon me, I know that my time is nigh. I feel the pressure of my existence being lifted from my shoulders as I write these final lines. If you take nothing else from this tale, at least think before you needlessly kill. Thank you for being the reader of my story.
-From the Memoirs of a Fly