• Marina Byrne

Flies that big

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

It's taken me over a year to put this on the website, but here it is.

This piece won first prize in the 2018 QLD Writers Centre flash fiction competition.


“I haven’t seen flies that big since…”

Mum’s voice startles me. I wait to hear the rest.

Since? I will her to continue.

My sister stills.

“Since?” she asks, her voice too loud, too needy.

But Mum’s eyes wander to the window and the curtain that hangs limp and unmoving on this airless afternoon.

We sit opposite her, my sister and I. We don’t exchange glances. The room is musty as only the rooms of the elderly can smell. The window has been opened to let in the air. We sit, carefully packing away her fine-bone china cups, layering paper around the floral teapot she treasured; the one we were never allowed to touch.

We move onto the bureau with its drawers stuffed full of photos. No one has looked at them in years. Black and white images. People I don’t know, mostly.

Except one. Mum, around eleven, hazel eyes staring, little brother on her lap. Serious eyes. What was she thinking? Who was she? What were her dreams? I want to hear her stories.

I’ve left it too late.

A breeze blows, and all three of us turn our faces toward it. The fly buzzes past me, and I swat at it. It truly is a large fly.

I haven’t seen a fly that big since I was a kid.

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