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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

by Julie Bosma

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He is dead, my poor little pet, my clever one. His death was horrible and unexpected. I am still in shock and find it hard to talk about him, but I shall try.

Francesco came into my life on a hot, still Sunday afternoon in summer. I had just taken some meat out of the freezer, when suddenly there he was! At the time I did not know of course that Francesco was a boy and a name for him was even further from my mind. I was irritated and disgusted when I saw him first, as I am sure you would have been. That was before I discovered what a wonderful, intelligent and affectionate little beast he was.

That first day he buzzed around the kitchen and I, ignorant fool that I was, tried to swat him with the silly, yellow, duck-shaped fly swat I had bought at The Warehouse. Oh Francesco, when I think of that now I am so ashamed. There you were, desperately looking for an escape, your little heart pounding, your big dark eyes looking in all directions at once for a way out. And there was I, running around like a goose, making loud, plastic slappety-swat noises with my duck. How you must have hated me then, Francesco, although your buzz sounded as buzzy as before.

Then you landed on the table, the sun making your body bright blue and luminous, and I stopped and just stood there, silently, the useless duck swat hanging limply between two fingers. I saw your little face then and I even thought I saw a smile on your insect lips. At that moment my flatmate came in and you took flight again.

"Yuck, a blowfly," he said and reached for the can of RAID under the sink. My heart missed a beat and I snatched the can from his hands and pushed him out of the door.

"Murderer," I said, "get lost!" I could still hear his mocking laughter when he had long gone.

I sat down and watched you for a while. You were buzzily eating a grain of sugar and did not move when I came very close.

"Hello," I said. "Who are you? What is your name?" You did not answer, but wiped your mouth with several tiny hands and you gave me that secret smile again. "Are you hungry?" I asked. You nodded. "Are you scared of me?" I whispered and held my breath. You slowly shook your little head. You understood! You understood every word I said! I did ask you lots of questions that afternoon and I found out a lot about you. Then you flew to the fridge, where my little niece had left a jumble of coloured magnetic letters and you walked from one to the other as I slowly spelt the words. H.e.l.l.o. and I. a.m. s.o. l.o.n.e.l.y. I could not believe my eyes. I could talk to a blowfly! He was intelligent!

That afternoon passed so quickly, Francesco, and I had not felt so happy in ages. We discovered we had similar tastes: Our favourite book was "Lord of the Flies," our favourite song "Fly me to the Moon" and our favourite food Buzzbars! I discovered that blowflies even held important jobs working for forensic scientists who used them to find out how long a murder victim had been dead by measuring the size of the maggots near the body.

On Monday, (what a coincidence!) there was even an article about blowflies in the paper and I found out that the man who first used them for police investigations was an Italian called Francesco Pedi. And that was how you got your name, Francesco. How well it suited you, my pet.

From that day on we were inseparable. You sat on my arm when I read or ate, you crawled over the mirror in the bathroom and you buzzed happily around the bedroom until you settled down for the night on your own little pad: a Fly Buys card I had specially prepared for you on my bedside cabinet. How happy and peaceful our life was, until... I made that fatal decision.

Ironing had always been my pet hate, but I felt so good that particular evening, that I unearthed a huge mountain of wrinkled clothes, filled my steam iron with water, switched it on and made a start. I was even singing, while you, Francesco sat on my hand, which went back and forth, back and forth. Did you get bored or were you suddenly thirsty? You crawled towards the front of the iron and before I could say or do anything you had disappeared into the little hole-for-the-water! I watched in horror through the blue plastic of the water compartment. You could not swim! I saw your tiny mouth open and close. Was it "HELP!" you shouted as you waved all your little legs at me? I frantically shook the iron to get you out, but only managed to make the ironing board soaking wet. I could not save you, Francesco. There was nothing I could do, I hope you understood. Your movements became slower and then stopped as I stood there saying "sorry" while a tear fell sizzling on the still hot iron.

I would never use my iron again. I buried it in a sunny spot in the garden, not far from your beloved rubbish bin and I put your Fly Buys card like a little tombstone on the dark soil with your name, Francesco, written right across it in black felt pen.

Oh Francesco I got such a buzz out of you.

There are two things I will do to remember you by, my pet. If ever I have a daughter I will call her Margot, which is closest to maggot and a son, of course, will be Francesco.

And finally, around your grave I will personally mow the lawn.

And my lawnmower will be a Flymo.

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