A fly landed on the bottom of the saucepan that was resting on the drainer. Which was allowed. Because it was on the bottom of the saucepan, not inside it, unlike the fly that had greeted Cora when she’d opened the butter dish on Tuesday morning. It had been dead on its back, right in the middle of a nearly new slab.
The thought of it made her whack the dishcloth on the insect next to her. Bang. Bang. Dead. Dead not buried. A bee smashed into the window hard enough to make her jump. It dropped onto the windowsill and stared at her.
She was sure of it.
Which was a worry.
What if the bee was the godmother of the fly she’d just killed? Would it tell all the other bees and the mum and dad flies to storm the house and get her, the murderer, the one with red hair and brown eyes? Would they sting her and shit on her food, creep inside her ears when she was sleeping? What had she done? How would she relax again?
Cora edged towards the corpse, not taking her eyes off the bee which wasn’t taking its eyes off her, the furry body huffing and puffing up and down as if it was catching its breath. After wrapping the fly in the dishcloth she tipped it into the bin. Then she worried that flies played dead the same way mice did when cats were chasing them. She was sure she’d read that somewhere. She lifted the lid and pulled up the plastic bin bag, tying its edges into a knot. She carried it to the outside brown bin that was for household rubbish but not food, glass, paper or plastics. It was the least full one.
Lid up. Bag down. Lid down. Sorted. Except the bee had gone from the windowsill. She dodged left and right as she ran into the house. She pulled the back door shut behind her, turning the key and leaving it in the lock so it couldn’t get in that way. There was an angry buzzing next to her. The bee was head butting the kitchen window. She knew she should open it to let the insect out but what if it was a trap, a way to get its victim close. Sting. Sting. Dead. Dead if she was allergic.
The bee lay still on the bottom of the saucepan that was drying on the drainer, facing her. The dishcloth was out of reach. A knife was no good, or keys wrapped round her fingers like a knuckle duster. The bee launched itself into the air.
From now on, forever on the run from all the insects.
She tripped at the top of the stairs, then fell down them, and as she cried out she was stung on the tongue. Sting. Sting. Bang. Bang. Two dead. Three when you included the fly.
Orla Owen is the author of the novel The Lost Thumb and came second in the Sandstone Press Short Fiction competition 2020. Her second novel, PAH, is due out later this year and she’s currently working on her third novel. Her writing focuses on the dark and macabre side of family life, the parts that go on behind closed doors.
Book link: The Lost Thumb – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1916036600/
Sandstone press link: A Cat Amongst the Pigeons – https://sandstonepress.com/news/2020/5/21/sandstone-short-fiction-competition-a-cat-amongst-the-pigeons
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Cover Image by Strikers
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