Antonios Maltezos

You should never have come back, she says. I want to tell her to stop, not to reach for the Black Fly, but she's already struggling with the fine print on the can. I hunker down, just in case, as she begins spraying circles on the ceiling looking for me. She tries holding her breath as the cloud of repellent starts to descend upon her, but it still finds its way into her nose, her open mouth. She's mad with rage, I tell myself. This isn't a good time. When the old table fan starts to whirl by itself, clearing the air so she can breathe better, she yips like a startled child who's been snatched from right under his mother's nose. I'm sorry, I whisper through the fan blades so she hears it choppy but unmistakable. I'll come back, I promise, and then slip through the torn screen, back outside where I've been for the longest time.