2005 – Kelcey Parker – I Heard a Fly Buzz

Fiction selection from the 2005 issue

I Heard a Fly Buzz
by Kelcey Parker

When I got married. There I was, in all my false virginal splendor, strung like a Christmas tree with the old, the new, the borrowed and blue. I looked distracted, people tell me. How could I forget how to talk, my husband wants to know. I does? He says. I does?

It was the fly, I tell him and everyone. Didn’t you see it?

We consult the wedding video, but it is grainy, and no, my husband cannot see the fly that captured my eye. But there I am, looking around and around—eyes up, eyes down, following its every zig and zag (yes, he was a quick little guy!)—at everything except my groom through my whole wedding.

To prove my case, I tell my husband where the fly would be if he could see it. Right now, I point at the screen and say, he just flew behind the minister’s head; okay now he’s over by the groomsmen; here I kind of lose him for a second in the stained glass. (This is not helping matters.) I can see myself in the video, eyes focused on the ever-moving fly, as I somehow manage to repeat after the minister: to have, hold, sickness, health.

Then, on the couch with my husband, I brace myself. It is the culmination of the vows, and the fly, behind my almost-husband’s shoulders, is zooming to the left and right at such speed! My head is moving right, left, right, left. Then I draw back my shoulders and stand taller, frozen, as the fly (which still cannot be seen on the video) is coming closer and closer to me. Do you M—— take thee P—– to be your lawful wedded spouse as long as you both shall live? I see myself part my lips and take a deep breath, so I point again at the television and say,There! See? The fly flew straight into my mouth when I opened it to speak! My husband reaches for my arm and pulls it down. We are both silent as we watch me say what sounds like, I does. When I try to correct myself, I say it again.

I does? My husband says. He says this every time he thinks about it.

This time I don’t bother telling him that it was the fly. That I tried to speak, I really did, but all that came out was the fly’s buzz. Buzz. Not, I does. I also don’t tell him how that fly has been inside me ever since that moment, how I am ever aware of the tense vibration of its wings as it circles and darts about in the cavity of my chest, how it rarely rests, how—when it does—its feet strike like pinpricks to my lungs, how sometimes it becomes agitated (especially around my husband) and flies in a fury, and how I believe it has laid eggs, and that it and its maggots are feeding, daily, upon my very heart.

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