The Immortal Fly Is Tired
By Dave Eggers
There is a housefly named Matthias, and he will never die. Most flies live a few days, but Matthias has been granted immortality, and for quite a long time he felt good about this, the fact that he was immortal, but lately he’s not quite as enthused. He has, he supposes, seen too many friends die, and his heart is heavy. He had long known of that notion, of having a heavy heart, but he could not relate to it until now, when his heart is just that: heavy. His heart is so heavy that he feels, when he’s flying, like he’s carrying a piano or an anvil. He’s been immortal now for about 16 years, and in that time, he guesses, has known perhaps 1,250 fellow flies, all of them now gone. Francisco, Davia, Gunther, Marco: all gone.
Over the years, to be sure, the pace has slowed. Having lost 600 or so fly friends in the first three or so years, he had to spend more time alone, to spread out his acquaintances a bit – he simply couldn’t sustain the death-a-day rate he’d been enduring. Cindy, Jasper, Anna, Khushbu: all gone. But did they, his here-today, gone-tomorrow companions, know that he was immortal? Never. Most flies don’t even know they’re going to die; they have no such foresight. They spend the day or days of their lives flying, landing on things, exploring whatever glass surfaces they can find – the feeling of antenna on glass is, oh! oh! beyond description! – and finally, they find a good windowsill or glass of orange juice, and they simply turn over and give up. And for 16 years Matthias has watched this 1,000 or so times, passing through shock and revulsion and empathy, and now he finds himself tired. He is tired of life, of death, of seeing and knowing and breathing. This is why he will, at his next opportunity, fly into your mouth or nostril, this being the only way an immortal fly can end his life. Please welcome him, forgive him, help him to the next world. Do not cough or chew.