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Friday, September 2, 2011

My One Percent

Author Katrina Heimark
Written By: Katrina Heimark

It had been a long day. A long day filled with teaching thousands of English classes to scores of Peruvian. A day so long that I came up with a ridiculous limerick about being overstressed.
There once was a girl who gave classes
And taught English to the Peruvian masses
She worked so many hours
And felt overpowered,
So now she just sits on her asses

I was overworked. Out of touch. When I finally trudged through my apartment door, I felt so exhausted that all I wanted to do was read. Take off my shoes. Crawl under the covers, suit and all, and open a book. I didn’t even want to eat.

Had it not been for the low-pitched drone that emanated from every bus in Lima, I told myself, I could have gotten some reading done on the way home. I could have escaped from my self-constructed labyrinth of too many working hours and not enough me time. I needed to dedicate at least one percent of my day to activities that I enjoy, and sleeping sure the hell didn’t count. I planned to spend 14.4 minutes reading, dammit, if it was the last thing I did. Christ, I could sit out an earthquake just to read a little David Sedaris.

I climbed into bed, and opened up my book. Page one. Anyone who watches at least the slightest amount of TV is familiar with the scene...A low humming sound started right in the vicinity of my left ear. I lazily swatted it away and kept reading…An agent knocks…the humming was louder this time, and much closer. I waved my hand in the air, looking to brush that pesky bug away from my face…on the door of some… I struggled to concentrate as the humming changed into a drone. Just finish the first sentence, I told myself. Then you’ll be able to ignore that tiny fly. See, he’s just a baby, you can forget about that!

seemingly ordinary…There he was. On the edge of the book. He wouldn’t even let me finish the damn sentence. If it wasn’t the buzzing, it was this…his little poop-feet were all over my book, tracking germs and poop and who knows what all over my precious Sedaris. I shook him off the page, encouraging him to move on. “Look little fly, there are plenty of other places in my room for you to look at…” And with a shake of the wrist and a flipping of a page he flew off over my head and was gone. seemingly ordinary home or office.

I did it. I finished the first sentence. I smiled triumphantly and looked up, and there he was. He was no little baby fly. This was the Godzilla of all flies. A Flyzilla. I could see myself reflecting from his eyes. He stared at me, with a taunting expression on his face. His head was so big it was about double the size of the alarm clock he was sitting on. I could see the individual hairs on his legs. I could see bits of poop on his damn feet; and they left stains all over my alarm clock! I couldn’t figure out the cause of his joy until I saw the clock. 2.1 minutes had passed, and I had only read 1 sentence. I only had 12.3 minutes left until my one percent of the day was gone forever.

I glared at the fly, and turned back to my book. I convinced myself that I could just ignore him, no matter what. I had just focused my eyes on where I had left off, when Mr. Flyzilla put his buzzing in high gear, and circled around the book, my head and my hand.

“Oh, I see.” I told him. “You like to read, huh?” I saw him shrug his wing at me and roll his eyes. He started rubbing his enormous legs in front of my face, perched on the edge of my book. It was like he couldn’t decide whether he would take a bite out of me, or out of the book. I imagined razor sharp fangs protruding out of that suction cup mouth. He moved his wings back and forth, hovering and buzzing as loud as he possibly could.

“Mr. Sedaris is not to be shared with anyone,” I told him, and wiggled my finger in his face. “I’ll share my room with you, no problem, but this book, it’s mine. Got that?” Flyzilla decided to hiss back at me. “Move!” I shouted.

He wouldn’t budge. I shook the book. He held on as if he had claws that protruded from his legs. I saw his eyes glint red, his mouth open for what was sure to be a bite of my flesh. In my own self interest, I decided to back off. I gently set the book on my lap. I glanced at the clock. Another 3.4 minutes had gone by.

I decided a change in tactic was necessary. I informed him that I only had one percent of the day to be used for my reading. “Please little guy, I’m so tired. Can you just wait over there until I finish? Then the book can be all yours. I promise!”

He lifted his legs and took off. I looked down, thinking I had him convinced, that I won. It was for an instant that I could no longer see him, that I imagined that the pest had transformed into the size of a gnat and would no longer bother me. I even breathed a sigh of relief, and relaxed for the first time all day. Then the little bugger flew up and crashed into the corner of my eye, right by my nose. Stunned, I reeled backwards, and hit my head on the head board.

He put his buzzer on loudspeaker, and crashed again and again into my face. The ear-splitting drone and the combination of his monster sized wings batting across my cheek were more than I could stand. I finally got over the shock and gave a hard swat at him with the back of my hand.

He landed on the open pages of the book. So, I figured, I’d squash the little bugger between the pages. No hard feelings, Mr. Sedaris, but your book became my flyswatter. Ever so slightly, and ever so slowly, while the little bloodsucker contemplated his next assault tactics, I adjusted my hands beneath the book.

I took a deep breath.

I slammed the book shut.

In the process of fly swatting, I had completely forgotten about checking the page I was on. Not only was the book going to have fly guts on it, I was going to have to page past them in order to read the rest of the chapter. Yuck. Well, I had to confirm a casualty, didn’t I? It wasn’t going to be pretty…

Wrong. I paged through the book and found no trace of fly guts. There wasn’t even a speck of blood. In my semi-professional fly-swatting experience, that means the creature is still out there, and will come back with a vengeance. I decided to continue reading, to see if I could get the rest of the measly 6.2 minutes that remained before the guy made his way back to find me.

It took two. Two minutes. Before I knew it, Flyzilla returned. Bigger and badder than ever. And he decided that face-hitting attacks weren’t enough for him. He wanted me. He didn’t take the assassination attempt lightly, that’s for sure. I looked at him sneaking his way up my bed, with new camo-gear in tow. “Don’t think I don’t see you, Flyzilla.” I cried out. “This means war!”

I took my book (hardcover, by the way) and slammed it on the end of my bed, just grazing my big toe. I howled in pain, and I swear I heard the fly howl with laughter. Laughter!

I heard him take off, just to spite me, and begin to fly around in slow circles, above my head, around my bed, circling the book. I frantically looked at the clock. I had 3.7 minutes remaining. I had to do something, and quick! His wings were the size of jumbo jets and the sound was deafening.

He must have been doing recon, because he flew in two big loops from my window to my door to my bed. I threw everything I had in reach at him, and missed and missed. He dove out of the way of a pencil that I tossed up in the air, and flew smack into my lamp next to my bed. He twitched and fell to the floor after burning his feet on the light bulb. I giggled maliciously.

My laughter faded as I watched him get up from the floor and begin to climb up the wall. His eyes filled with new determination and the noise erupting from his wings shook my apartment complex. I crouched in fear on the opposite side of my bed. No, I wasn’t going to go down as a coward! It was time to negotiate.

I stood tall, and rushed over to my door. I opened it wide, and did a spectacular interpretative dance urging Flyzilla to leave my room. I talked of open fields, piles of garbage, and many many other gringas he could visit at the wee hours of the night.

He contemplated the free world option and compared it to a world of life on the battle field, with its endless thrill-seeking, and infinite adrenaline rushes. He chose the latter.

He completed the necessary surveillance to launch a full-fledged attack on his very well-suspecting victim. Exhausted, and with less than 1 minute left on the clock, I was ready for him.

This time while he zoomed above my head, I feigned exhaustion and lazily grabbed the leg of my teddy bear, which had fallen onto the floor in the previous book-slamming commotion. I snapped upright, and with sharp-shooter’s aim, Teddy went flying into the air, and crashed against the ceiling. He landed with a poof on my bed.

I no longer heard the roaring of the jet engines. I heard a faint plink on the floor, and the sputtering fizzling halt of the mosca del infierno. He appeared on the other side of my bed. His little feet waved in what could have been a dance of surrender, or a call for reinforcements.

I promptly smashed him with my book.

Contented and pleased, I relaxed for the first time in what seemed like weeks. I rolled over, opened my book and began to read when another buzzing began…


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