by E C Hayles
I’ve forgotten what my wife looks like.
She spends the best part of the day face down, immersed in her smart phone so I only get to see the top of her head. She also likes to multi-task by keeping the TV on so that she can listen to her favourite soaps while continuing to tap incessantly on the tiny screen in her hands. Drives me crazy. I am grateful however for the occasional grunt I receive to confirm my existence.
“Another terrorist attack in North Africa—at least 57 dead.”
“Interest rates have dropped.”
“The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker have shacked up together and plan to adopt.”
The sweat is creating a tarn in my jugular notch. It’s almost as hot as my wife’s phone battery this summer and these flies have no shame. They buzz around my head and perch on my face and arms knowing I can’t catch them. My swipes become tedious to both parties. You can almost hear tiny fly titters as they taunt me while I try to read my newspaper. I think it’s time to put up that fly paper I bought yesterday. The guy assured me it was the best on the market.
Using my small step ladder I hook the loop of red ribbon to the ceiling light shade and pull the small orange tube towards the worn hazel shag pile. I get an irritating dash of the viscous substance on my finger as I pull the lengthy strip to its conclusion. I return to my chair wiping the glue onto my jeans and wait. She hasn’t looked up once. I could be belly dancing with the neighbour right in front of her and she wouldn’t notice. Tap, tap, bloody tap.
One by one the flies succumb to the sweet aroma and land unknowing to their syrupy death. A mild struggle, a half-hearted buzz and then stillness. A contented grin creeps on my face.
Inevitably my wife rises from her catatonic state and heads towards the bathroom. A harsh breeze from the living room window takes hold of the fly paper and throws it into her face as she passes. She tries to brush away the adhesive paper but it covers her mouth and her nose making it impossible to breathe.
Frantically grappling, her hand containing the phone gets entwined in the paper and turning puce she tries desperately to free her mouth with the other but it catches near the phone entangling in a telecommunicational prayer. She tries to look my way but the mess of sticky paper forces her stare towards the phone. Her camera flashes for one final ‘selfie’. A mild struggle, a half-hearted grunt and then stillness. A contented grin creeps on my face.
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Ed Hayles is an ex would-be musician hoping one day to become an ex would-be writer. One of England’s most revered spectacle wearer, he sees fit to spend his spare four and a half minutes each day hunched over a typewriter. He, in fact, does have a hunched back.