Sudden Little Drops has been recently resurrected so I could talk about music! Check out the new Albums of 2011 post below, and hopefully there will be more new content coming soon.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Struggle

I am sitting on a double-decker bus. I am tucked in the back left corner with my knees propped up against the seat in front of me, listening to the monotonous dirge of the engine, feeling it churn under my stomach.

I am listening to this slow, rumbling noise when I notice a fly struggling for life against the windowpane. The fly is tiny, barely larger than an ant. It seems to be injured in some way, though it’s hard to tell how. A broken leg or a damaged wing, perhaps. Whatever it is, it has lost the fly its most treasured power – the fly can no longer fly.

Instead, it is attempting to climb up the window. With one leg held tentatively to the glass it finds its grip and starts carefully making its way up. Its steps are quite uneven and occasionally it stops and starts. I feel that this fly must be concentrating with everything it has.

It gets maybe an inch or so from the bottom when it loses its footing and drops back down. Then it tries again. I watch it do this four, maybe five times, waiting for it to give up hope, but each time it falls it just picks itself up and, unperturbed by the futility of its plight, wanders back to the glass to try again.

My eyes fixed on the window, I start to think how impossibly large it is to the fly. It cannot be more than three feet tall, but to this fly it is colossal, like a great vast sky stretching upwards. It dwarfs the poor fly so much, there can’t be any hope of it ever reaching the top. The fly simply cannot do this, I think. It will never succeed. Given infinite time, given an immeasurable number of tries. It can struggle and struggle but it cannot win.

Stupid, useless fly. I realise it is in my power to put it out of its misery.

But then I get a phone-call. I fumble around in my bag to answer it.

It’s my friend, Jimmy.

“Sam,” he says. “How are you mate? I didn’t know if you were coming tomorrow night so I thought I’d ring.”

“Coming where?” I say.

“To Fran’s. She’s having a pool party.”

“But Fran doesn’t have a pool.” I’ve still got my eyes on this fly. It’s making its way back up the window again.

“She’s borrowed one off a friend of hers. This friend has gone to the States for the summer and she’s letting Fran use her pool. Whenever she wants it.”

“Whereabouts in the States?” I ask.


“The friend. Whereabouts in the States is she?”

“How the hell should I know?” he says. “Why the hell does it matter, a thing like that? What do you want to know that for? I don’t know, ask Fran. Ask her tomorrow night, if you’re coming. Are you coming or what?”

I think for a second. The fly’s fallen off again and it’s picking itself back up.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Maybe. She hasn’t said anything to me about it.”

“She only just decided today, that’s all. She’ll want you to be there. You know Fran. She’ll want everyone to be there.”

“Well where is it?”

This fly just won’t give up. It keeps on trying. It’s pretty remarkable, really.

“The party? It’s just down the road from Fran’s place. We’re meeting there about seven and she’ll take us down.”

“Alright,” I say. “I guess I can come.”

“Sweet,” he says. That’s the kind of thing that he says, my friend Jimmy. “Listen I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow, around seven, yeah?”

“Alright, Jimmy.” He hangs up and I put my phone back in my bag.

I guess this party could be fun. Fran’s always a good laugh to hang around with. I like spending time with Fran.

I don’t really want to kill the fly anymore so I just sit there and watch it. The poor thing’s still trying.


The bus keeps rumbling along and I start to look around it, at the other people. I do this sometimes, I do it to pass the time. No-one’s talking except this one couple near the front, but they’re not really saying much. One of them mentions their kid, I think. They’re probably just saying things to keep up the conversation.

I can’t decide if I want to go to this party or not. Fran likes to have everyone she knows round to these things and I don’t always like it too much, having all these people around. I kind of wish it was just her.

Sometimes when I’m on the bus I like to make up little stories, about people’s lives. I wonder why they’re on the bus and where they’re going and who they’re going to meet. But today no-one seems to have any stories. They’re all just sitting there, not moving or talking or anything.

I wonder what Fran would think about this fly? I think she’d like it too. I think she’d understand.
I’m sort of staring into the middle of the bus, not really looking at anything, when this one woman looks straight at me. For a moment she seems to be in a right state, this woman. Her hair is all coming off her head and on her face, all bitty and wiry, and her eyes are wild and alive like fire. She thinks I’m looking at her. Or at least I think she does. But then her eyes flicker off somewhere else and I feel like she wasn’t looking at me at all.

I look back down at the fly. There’s something about this fly. I find my fingers coming near it, trying to coax it onto my hand. It starts scrambling away, but I cup my hand around it against the window. Without anywhere else to go, it starts up the window again. I follow it with my hand, ready to catch it when it falls. It gets pretty high up this time, maybe three four inches off the ground, higher than I’ve seen it get so far. But sure enough it falls eventually, landing in my palm, and I quickly take my hand away from the window so it can’t escape. I hold it up to my face to get a better look. It starts crawling around up my fingers and on my fingernails, so light I can only just feel it there.

I look out the window again. We’re just coming past a park and nearing the next bus stop. It’s the one we get off when we go see Fran. I’m looking at the window, and I can see the reflections of the couple and the woman and all the other dreary people in it. I’m looking at the window, with the fly crawling around on my fingers, and I suddenly have the urge to get off the bus.
I want to go see Fran. I’m right down the road from her place, it won’t take me long. I know I should wait till tomorrow night, but I don’t want to. I want to go see her now. It’s been so long. I can’t sit on this goddamn bus any longer.

The bus starts to slow. I don’t let myself think about it, I just pick up my bag, get up and move towards the door. No-one gives me a second glance, no-one knows that this isn’t my stop. No-one even sees the fly, still crawling around in my hand.

I’ll just get off the bus, I think, put the fly on a leaf somewhere, and go see my friend, Fran. She might not be in, but I’ll go see.

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