We had been searching for the source of the buzzing for nearly an hour, hot and sweaty and stripped down to the bare essentials: me, a pair of red plaid boxers, and her, a blue and white striped two-piece. She was on her hands and knees in the kitchen, looking through the crack between the fridge and the counter.
“It’s got to be some sort of mosquito,” she said.
“No way. I’m guessing a wasp. Or a hornet.” I was standing in the middle of the living room, looking around slowly like I might be the one to catch whatever was haunting our afternoon. “Why are you looking behind the fridge, anyway?”
“I thought I heard it over here. Hornets don’t buzz, by the way.”
“Sure they do.”
“No, they don’t.”
“What do they do then?” I looked out toward the big windows on the far wall, the white hot July sun beaming in like its sole purpose was to illuminate our small apartment.
“They hum. Everyone knows that,” she said, standing and brushing off her legs. “At least I thought everyone knew that.”
“Well, clearly I didn’t know it,” I said, still tilting my head mechanically from side to side.
“I was always under the impression that—”
“Don’t move,” she said suddenly, her arms outstretched, shuffling toward me like she was walking on ice. “It’s right on your forehead.”
“What? How? I didn’t even hear it!”
“You were talking, that’s why. Just don’t move, okay?” I tensed as she approached, feeling the thing’s tiny feet on my skin. She bit her lip, trying not to laugh. “I’m going to have to smack it. I’m sorry.”
“Just do it quick.”
I saw her extend her arm back and closed my eyes just before it came down hard, her palm landing on the bridge of my nose with enough force to shove me back and down onto the floor.
“God!” I said touching my face, pulling my fingers away and finding blood on the tips. “That hurt.”
“Sorry,” she said, helping me up.
“Did you get it?”
“No, but at least we know what it is now.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“The meatiest house fly I’ve ever seen.”
“Told you it wasn’t a mosquito,” I said, covering my nose and looking back out onto the room we shared.
“You’re right. It wasn’t.” She smiled deeply, sweetly, touching my neck and pulling me close.
That was when I knew I loved her.
About the Author: Robert James Russell is the Pushcart Prize nominated author of Sea of Trees (Winter Goose Publishing, 2012), and the co-founding editor of the literary journal Midwestern Gothic. His work has appeared in The Collagist, Joyland, Thunderclap! Magazine, LITSNACK, and The Legendary, among others. Find him online at robertjamesrussell.com.
Story Song: "Dry the Rain” by The Beta Band