The kitchen is overrun with flies.

One night when the air was cool I opened the balcony door thinking it would make the atmosphere calming and romantic but instead all that happened was the flies. Not the tiny innocent fruit flies that seem to come from nowhere but the beefy demanding outdoor flies that zoom in like black torpedoes the second you crack a window. Since then they’ve taken up residence in the kitchen and collide rudely with my hands when I reach out to open something but are otherwise unkillable.

There’s a bottle of vodka in the freezer so I wade through the abrasive whirr of wings.

I find two. One is Żubrówka that my friend gave me as a congratulatory gift when I got into school and the other is the last sip of shitty lemon Smirnoff someone brought to a house party. For some reason there is also a half-eaten strawberry and a small heap of broken glass. I think about which vodka to drink but the thought of thinking about that depresses me and I shut the freezer door.

Instead I drop a tea bag into a mug of microwaved water and sit down at my laptop.

I get a sudden impulse to Google Courtney Love. Almost instantly her trademark smeared scarlet lipstick pops up, the familiar hard white jaws and silky pink dresses glazed with a rotten film of sweetness and decay. Mesmerized I scroll through her protruding cheekbones, taking in her glassy vacant eyes and the sad comic curve of her lips.

I think about my own lips, which, unlike Courtney’s, are not my best feature. I like to think they’re full and seductive but actually they’re kind of small and strange, strange like those porcelain masks with giant painted eyes and creepily miniature bow lips that are at once plush and unyielding. I think about a girl I knew in real life who looked nothing like Courtney Love but nonetheless resembled her in a way, the way she was all mouth, all wild speech and intensity, sweat and dripping mascara and bright veins running down her open legs.

Whenever my mascara drips it just looks messy.

I shut my laptop and pick up the copy of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly that my ex’s sister lent me for the weekend. The butterfly’s wings on the cover are tinged a dark moody red. Apparently the author composed it solely by blinking his left eyelid after a stroke and I haven’t been able to read more than a few pages at a time because I cry too much.

I realize that the butterfly and Courtney Love’s lipstick are the same color.

An angry fizz breaks the silence and I look up to see the flies committing early suicide against the kitchen lamp, their singed black bodies sparking and crackling nervously like fireworks before dropping down, immobilized, into a pile of corpses on the floor.

I put the book down and walk into the kitchen, wondering where my roommate keeps the dustpan and whether it’s better to have big eyes or a big mouth. TC Mark

image – Dan Foy

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