Fly In Your Eye
By David Nickle
It drifts through your vision, a detached retina on patrol. You blink, you rub your temples, you think about seeing the eye doctor real soon. But you look again, and you realize, no, you were wrong. There's nothing remotely retinal about this thing. Six stickly legs, disco-ball eyes, a big hairy ass, brown-tinted wings stretched akimbo. Just looking through 'em makes you want to scratch.
Crawled inside through your tear-duct while you slept. Happens one time in a hundred when a tourist goes down to that place, stays one night too many in a room where the fumigation hasn't took. The locals have a name for those flies -- translates either to Sneaky Devil Bat, or Mean Little Eye Mite, depending on which edition of the Fodors you got.
Maybe given time, it'll decompose. Surely it couldn't be alive in there -- you don't know much about flies, but one thing you're pretty sure about is that flies do not have the right gills for extracting oxygen from eyeball juice. The fact that it's always in a different position when it drifts past your iris doesn't prove anything. What you're seeing's an optical illusion -- fly tilts this way or that, wings seem to have moved, proboscis extends a little further, sucks a bit back. Truth is, that fly's drowned. And drowned means dead, and before long dead has got to mean decomposition. It's only a matter of time.
You decide to wait it out. Don't much feel like leaving the house, so you order in some groceries. The phone's getting awful jangly, and you pull it out of the wall. And who needs cable television when you got yourself a fly to watch?
So garbage day comes around and you take the TV and the telephone and your hi-fi stereo set while you're at it, and lay them all out neat as you please on the curb. They're gone before the truck arrives, but you don't see who took them.
You start to wonder how big that fly in there really is. Some days, it fills your whole vision -- everywhere you look, there's the fly, looking right back. Other times, it's a teeny little speck. If you weren't looking, you wouldn't even notice it was there.
Mail comes every morning, mostly bills. But you stopped reading it, after the fly switched eyes.
You woke up that morning, and it took you the longest time to figure out what was so unusual
First you thought, maybe someone rearranged the furniture, but as you looked that didn't seem to be the case. Then you were thinking, if not that, then maybe somebody painted the walls. But no, they were the same dirty beige as they were when you moved in here. And finally, it hit you.
It was the fly.
Floating there in your other eyeball -- the clean eye, the empty eye, the eye that had no fly or so you'd thought -- brown-tinted wings pressed back all sleek and smug against the bristly little curve of its rump. Fly moved, and that's all it took: overnight, it changed everything.
So you closed your eyes and thought to yourself: the mail can wait. And you kept 'em closed, covered 'em up, because that way you don't have to look at that goddamn fly anymore as it jumps from one eye to the other, alive and well against all reason.
Awhile goes by. You don't have many friends, but the few you do have come calling, wondering if you're okay. You pretend you aren't home, and it seems to work: they leave.
Why don't you go to a doctor? Somehow, you just can't get your head around the idea that this fly's a simple medical condition. Maybe the Fodors had it right -- the first edition, not the new one -- and this fly's a Sneaky Devil Bat, come straight up from Hell to steal your soul. What's a doctor going to do for that?
You're just about ready to go to a priest this morning when you figure it out. You jump out of bed laughing, pull the bandage off your eyes. The fly's gone -- you can tell it without even looking! It was only a matter of time.
You fling open the curtains and watch the light stream in. Beautiful morning, isn't it? Middle of summer, sunshiny day, birds flying through the trees. It's a shame you can't hear their singing, over the buzzing in your ear.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.