When I was a little girl I used to make friends with bugs, which you may find hard to believe if you have ever been lucky enough to see my current reaction when bugs are around. I may or may not scream like a little girl.
I had grasshopper friends, snail friends, bee friends and fly friends. I will try to remember to write posts about the first ones, but this post shall be devoted to my fly friends.
As you may or may not know, if there’s a fly and a window in the same room they’ll likely be within 3mm of each other, chatting up a storm. When I was a kid, I used to play by the sliding glass doors leading to our backyard. I’m sure I played on the porch or in the backyard as well, but I do remember playing by the doors. I don’t really know what I’d be doing there, but without fail, a fly would also be ‘playing’ by the window. I thought it was our special bonding time.
I can recall the first time I made friends with the fly. As I was sitting there, talking with the fly, I called it just that: “fly”. At one point my grandmother called from the other room “His name is George!”. I was confused and shocked; not only, was I surprised that Granny was also friends with my fly, but I was mostly shocked that Granny knew his name. I mean, he never told me his name was George. But since I
loved Granny was completely gullible, I believed her.
After that day, whenever Granny caught me with George by the window, she would stop and ask me how George was doing and if we were having fun. I’d be all “George this” and “George that”. If George was over, I’d be hanging out with him at the window.
Sometimes I wouldn’t even be playing at the window and I’d hear him from across the room.
I’d run right over and welcome him.
One day I was stopping by to say hello to George, when my cat Jenny walked by. She looked questioningly at George. I took this to mean that she wanted to meet him. I introduced my two friends to each other. George buzzed his hello to Jenny; Jenny looked intrigued.
She approached him, gave him a quick sniff and sat back with her head cocked. I started telling Jenny all about him. Next thing I know, her body language changed. Even as a young child, I was aware the dynamic in the room had shifted. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.
And then Jenny pounced on him and gobbled him right up. I was crushed. I couldn’t believe that my cat ate my fly. My friend George was dead. I was so upset. Granny came rushing into the room after I started screaming to see what the hell was going on.
Through chocked sobs, I managed to explain what had happened. Granny was very sympathetic; she wanted me to feel better, she wanted to say things that would make it all better. I started hearing the typical explanations for these sorts of things:
“Sometimes people we care about die…”
“Sometimes an animal will eat another animal…”
“I know you were friends, but he was just a fly…”
And finally, the last ditch effort to try and console me and get me to stop crying Granny told me something I’ll never forget:
“Flies don’t live that long. In fact, the fly I told you was named George probably died two weeks ago. I think a different fly comes to the window everyday.”
I was mortified. I couldn’t believe that my very best friend, George, died weeks ago, and I didn’t even know. I ran to my room and wailed all night.
… … Well, probably for at least half an hour.