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Though my workdays are normally filled with all the commotion and stress that a thousand college students can generate, the days between June and mid-August are mine alone to enjoy. It’s only slightly ironic and more than a little unexpected to me that summer break means even more to me now than it did when I was in school, but it’s true. Never let it be said that a little separation between yourself and others is a bad thing.
Despite the fact I have plenty to keep myself busy, I also have plenty of time to myself. Time that will be spent writing. Which is what I tried to do just a bit ago, and with unfortunate results.
I had just started typing when the buzzing began. First in one ear and then the other and then back again. My right thumb punched downward on the space bar and trampolined my hand upward, waving through the air.
“Stupid fly,” I muttered.
The buzzing returned, and this time the fly actually bounced itself off my head. More waving. More missing. Then the creature circled around and landed right on top of my computer screen, staring at me.
Black, juicy one. Hairy legs and monstrous eyes. And a wingspan that seemed almost unnatural.
Where it had been and how it had gotten into my office escaped me, and I really didn’t care. All that mattered was that I went back to work. I shooed it away and went back to my typing.
Against my head again.
I wheeled my chair around and swiped at it, missing the fly but not the stack of books on the opposite table, all of which tumbled to the floor.
“Dang it, you come back HERE!,” I yelled. “I’m gonna KILL YOU!!”
I roamed around my office for the next five minutes. Found nothing, of course. No buzzing, and no kamikaze attacks. So I sat back down and started writing. Four paragraphs later,
And then after that SMACK!, it stuck. To my head. And I swear, I swear to you, that fly made a beeline toward my ear. I was convinced it was going to burrow in and eat my brain.
I jumped up, slapping at my head and flailing my arms in every direction. The fly somehow managed to retreat back to whatever hell it came from and left me alone. For the moment.
But I knew it would be back. Oh yes, I knew. Which is why I put on my cowboy hat (to prevent any future burrowing) and started to fake type.
Two minutes later, buzzing again. And just at that moment I transformed myself into some strange Jedi/Mr. Miyagi/redneck hybrid, sliced through the air with an open palm—
The fly tumbled backward through the air and crashed against the far wall.
That was five minutes ago.
I’m back at my computer now. Order has been restored. But now I’m suffering through the fits and stops of trying to write, because every sentence I’m trying to type is interrupted by more buzzing.
The fly is still alive, though just barely.
It managed to right itself a bit ago by flopping back onto its legs, but it can’t do much else. Every attempt to take to flight has been both paltry and meaningless.
And now I feel guilty.
There are certain religious adherents who would say I sinned a bit ago, that every creature is worthy of respect and life and that by denying those things to them I deny them to myself. Others would say the sin was letting both haste and anger lead me to do something I now regret.
I suppose a sort of atonement is called for now, though I’m not sure what the proper course of action is. Should I walk over and euthanize it with my boot. Or should I try to nurse it back to health with small tweezers and bits of rancid meat? I’m not sure.
I am sure of this, though. We can try to model our lives to the Good, to walk straight and never wander, to be our very best selves. And sometimes that will work. But who we truly are deep down in our broken souls will always be there, ready in an instant to bare its teeth.
That is, I suppose, why we are all three people in one—there’s the person we want to be, the person we are, and the person who must daily choose which way to lean.
To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at his blog What I Learned Today and follow him on twitter at @BillyCoffey