The Flies at the Pool in DC by Douglas Macdonald

by JHow on May 8, 2017

in Announcements, Bonus Content, Fiction, Shorts

Wuhan / 武汉 | The black of the pool

Photo by Tauno Tõhk

Associate fiction editor Krys Malcolm Belc on today’s bonus story: Douglas Macdonald’s tiny piece starts off as a fast-paced, gorgeous picture of two kids, Vito and Avril, on a regular summer’s day, and suddenly—and shockingly—turns futuristic, otherworldly, and sinister. This story and its culminating image stuck with me long after the first read.

The Flies at the Pool in DC

Through the hedge a gleam of azure. Beyond the black iron railings the pool glistened like a layer of sky ripped out and spread before us like a blanket at a picnic. Me and Avril. No one else around. Sundays are like that in DC. So screw all those signs saying GOVERNMENT PROPERTY KEEP OUT.

—We need a fix from this fucking heat, Avril said, smoothing the hair off her forehead.

—No suits.

—So what? If we’re caught we’re caught—we’re kids.

On our bellies we crawled and squiggled under the iron pickets. We were surprised how easy. Big buidling beside the pool with antennas. Quick selfie—Avril in her panties and t-shirt and me in my polka dot boxer shorts by a lounge chair. First time I noticed her hips starting to bulge with womanhood. We held hands in the foot chill of the shallow end on the first semicircular step.

—Vito, you go first. Her voice a silver quivering wire. Sucked in my breath dove along the surface, skidding, blue shrapnel of splashing I was born anew in our rebooted universe. Soon Avril was beside me, shivering and whirling, her lips all wet tangerine lipstick. We were just old enough to start kissing and not anything much else.

When the first big furry black fly flew over the pool we scarcely noticed it. We were in the deep end now, hanging onto one of the ladders. Soon a number of flies were buzzing around, swooping over our heads, sailing off into the blue, and returning.

Avril’s scream was a shock. —It bit me, she shouted. The loud buzzing panicked us.  Once one fly found us they all learned. We ducked under. Her legs were so pale beneath the water, scissoring wildly back and forth like a hurt octopus. We thrashed to the shallow end. How to get out, get out, get out and not get stung. Avril started up the steps but the flies swarmed over her. Shrieking she fell back into the water. Couldn’t talk. Something had gotten into her mouth. I reached in her mouth with my middle finger and thumb and felt a big fly still buzzing. Felt solid. Pulled it out. It was metal. On the bottom of its belly were some tiny numbers. Shit. A man in a blue uniform was coming towards us from a door we hadn’t noticed.

Douglas Macdonald has published poetry widely and recently returned to the short story/flash scene. He has won several prizes for his short stories and poetry. Recently a story of his was published in the volume Visions of Life (2015).

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