Emma Forsberg, flickr

It had become ridiculous. Victor, a musca domestica, a common housefly, had gained passage into Ms. Myska’s apartment via the cellophane packaging of a crusty French loaf. The arrival of the groceries, having been scheduled to arrive at 11:00 a.m., had nonetheless caught Ms. Myska unawares for she had fallen asleep.

“Oh!” she said, starting bolt upright, realizing what had happened. Sure enough, the packages were on the threshold. All seemed well enough, however: All seemed in order and the milk and cream were cold.

Still, Victor had found his way in.

For days, he had bragged to Jasmine, the wild leg of a landscaping foundation plant and Ms. Myska’s porch plants – Flaming Katy and Donkey Ear – that he would find a way to observe what was happening inside and get fat from the dog food Ms. Myska put down for her little Coton.

What he hadn’t counted on was Ms. Myska’s sharp senses and reactions. Greedily, he had secreted himself away inside the cellophane for a quick snack of French bread crust while waiting for her to open the door and let him inside.

When Ms. Myska spotted him she shouted out in alarm, her second “Oh!” of the morning. She crushed him dead, instantly, while he darted about. His body was unceremoniously scraped away.

Though Ms. Myska hated this condition under which she would have to accept her bread, she acknowledged her responsibility.

Victor’s children were not far behind in gaining access for they had become concerned. He was a hard father to live with. He had never given them any breaks. Still, that did not mean they wished him dead. And he had meant his hard regimented style for their benefit as they would soon understand.

Like Victor, they all bragged to Jasmine and Donkey and Katie they would do what their father had not managed to do and live long and happy lives with Ms. Myska in their natural state of commensalism, giving birth to baby flies and getting fat.

What they had missed was the early cautionary and leavening influence of a mother who had died young while they were but pupae. “Know your limits” she would have whispered to them in their self contained infancy. “Don’t become too proud, for surely you will know death too soon.”

Victor’s children managed to ride in on packages and groceries, to squeeze in between cracks in the screened porch.

Ms. Myska kept her outside door open during certain hours of the summer to enjoy fresh air, to water and tend to her houseplants, Donkey, a succulent, and Katy, a Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, and it was mainly during these hours that Victor’s children managed to gain access.

Jasmine, the landscape plant on the other side of the porch, stepped in at times and said something. “Chillax” she hissed as she rode the waves of the wind. But they were too busy plotting their way to the grave.

“We all have self destructive tendencies,” Donkey Ear interjected sagely one afternoon from his place on the wrought iron shelf.

What did he know? thought Katy, laughing to herself. But it was so like him to sonorously opine with a wisdom beyond his abbreviated age. She allowed him this indulgence.

They would all die one day. Even Ms. Myska would die, thought Katy. They would all become husks while something inside would be set free.

Katy had heard a priest on tv read a revelatory passage from the text Ms. Myska read every morning: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Katy often wondered about this. She wondered how there were some people who thought carefully of the nature and future of the earth. She wondered if she would be celebrating along with other plants, humans, and geologic formations called mountains.

She thought the passage a little too hopeful, but she tried to stay open. Maybe there would be a new earth one day. She had to admit humans seemed insanely hopeful sometimes. But Ms. Myska seemed ok. If she wanted to read it in her book and believe it who was she.