My daughter gave me a homework assignment before she fluttered off to Santa Cruz for a Girl Scout sleepover:
“I need to catch a fly for Biotech class.”
Flies seem to find their way into our sunroom all the time. If one didn’t end lifeless on the window sill, I could just trap one in a cup or something.
Funny how I noticed flies for the next 24 hours, buzzing in the air and resting on things. I was patient; no hurry, no need to interrupt a conversation for the capture.
Sure enough, in the early evening, just as I’d finished a beer and was sitting in the sunroom with the empty bottle in my hand, a fly buzzed in and landed on the neck of the bottle, its buzzing coming to a stop.
Perfect. I’ll wait for him to go into the opening of the bottle, clamp my hand over the top, and voila: homework complete.
I sat still, breathing low and steady, as the fly walked jerkily around the lip of the bottle.
(Sipping beer? Enjoying the sugar?).
He rested on the white label, and I could see his body so clearly, the colors, the jaggedness of his front legs as he rubbed them together.
(Cleaning? Licking his chops?)
He crawled back up the neck of the bottle to the lip, circled twice, and finally, after a few seconds of sitting still — the bottle and me and the fly — he dropped into the opening.
But the future was not set.
I didn’t move, whether due to my unplanned habit of stillness or just a change of heart.
My hands stayed where they were.
And the fly came back out.
This wasn’t going to be the fly they used in Biotech class.
We’d shared too much time together. His backstory had been revealed (or conjured; same thing).
I knew I’d made the right decision because as I moved the bottle to the shelf, the fly didn’t fly away; he just enjoyed the ride. Had I placed my face closer to the bottle, I may have heard a miniature “Wheeeee!” and perhaps seen a solitary fly leg raise up in hopes of a high-five.
What about the science of that?
The fly and me. A quiet moment in the sunroom that changed the course of time.
The inevitable healing quality of closeness.
A gesture of hope.
But one that will surely fail Science class.