My New Year’s Resolution of two years ago was to stop murdering.
Yes, from a young age I had been a devotee of insecticide. It all started with the casual swatting of a mosquito and culminated in the systematic poisoning of an entire family of earwigs.
If I hadn’t have stopped when I did, I might have ended up as the Osama Bin Laden of insects, emptying a kettle over an ant hill. And for what? Politics?
But on January 1st 2012, I stopped. With a rolled-up newspaper hovering over a moth, I asked myself: does the world need more death in it? My bug-bludgeoning days were behind me.
Today — almost two years to the day of my resolution — I took pause to notice just how far I’ve come.
There had been a fly buzzing around our apartment for almost a week. He was one of those lethargic flies, committed only to his desire to pass through a single window pane, so I hadn’t been motivated to kick him out. Besides, it was twenty below zero outside and my non-killing rule had cornered me into granting asylum.
As a point of fact, the fly had been around for so long that it felt rude not to gave him a name. Flyey.
I suppose I could have chosen a name that was easier to pronounce but there was just something about him — the fact that he was a fly, perhaps, and seemed pretty enthusiastic about flying — that made the name so right for him.
My human friend Anton is a pilot and spends a lot of time in flight. I suppose he could be named Flyey too, but he’s not a fly and so Flyey has two claims to the name for Anton’s paltry one. Besides, Anton is called Anton presumably because he has an ant on, though I’ve never been able to spot it.
Flyey was around for so long that I had begun to wonder when natural causes would take him off my hands, but I didn’t like to think about it.
This morning, after a total of eight days of Flyey’s company, my girlfriend found his tiny body on the window ledge.
She said: “Ew, gross, there’s a dead fly over here” or some other callous thing.
Could it be?
I went over to investigate.
“No!” I said, “Flyey!”
It seemed to me he lived his life like a fly candle in the fly wind.
“It’s only a fly,” said my girlfriend.
“That,” I said, “was Flyey. And he was the best darn…”
But I couldn’t finish.
And then it occurred to me. There could still be time.
I remembered hearing something on the radio about how to cheer up an ailing bee with a spoonful of royal jelly. Flyey had never shown an interest in honey though.
“Quick!” I said, thinking on my feet, “fetch me a spoonful of turds.”
Mercifully a neighbour heard the commotion and came to our assistance. It’s amazing how quickly and selflessly human beings can act in a crisis.
It was all too much for my girlfriend’s feminine sensibilities and she quite understandably left the room.
Doubtless, you will be relieved to hear that we were able to resuscitate Flyey. You should have seen the look on his fly face. Somewhere in the confusion, I knew he was glad to be back from the fly dead. It was not yet his fly time.
The neighbour and I drove him to the emergency room, where Flyey now regains his strength, supping meekly upon the tear duct of a generous volunteer.
Blimey, I just realised something. None of this happened. I must have replaced murder with lying. That’s the problem with giving up habits. It’s one in, one out.