Coffin Flies

by | Jun 25, 2023 | Writing the Weather

A week of summer rain, and the air so nice, I left the windows open in the kitchen and bathrooms but were getting behind on certain chores like trash day. The wet air so soft and so cool, better than air conditioning, especially because the electric bill was now hundreds of dollars a month, and keeping the windows open on nice days aired out the house and saved money on energy bills. It was so lovely, enjoying the storms with the windows open, the soft cool air washing over my nakedness in the nights when I slept with the breeze caressing my belly like a lover.

Who would have thought it could have gone on like that, so natural, so gentle, so beautiful, so free without problems. I was shocked to find there would be consequences. Coffin flies invaded the house after the rain. People had the same problem in old hospitals, my aunt, the old nurse, said. Apparently, the old hospital, the old county hospitals where she and I were born, the one that was torn down two decades ago, was a haven for coffin flies.

I had never even known what they were or seen them before. At first, I thought they were mere fruit files that moved in different ways and were interested in more than fruit.
“Did they come from the rain? Did the rain make them?” I asked my aunt.

“Yes and no,” she said, sipping her coffee from the chipped Denny’s mug. “Long ago, when they invaded the coffins to get to the bodies, there was no rain in the wooden box. The coffin sat on the table in the dining room, and mourners sat beside the body during the wake, praying away the coffin flies, pretending the coffin flies weren’t there when friends, family, neighbors, business partners, church goers, and acquaintances came to pay respect. It was very bad to have a wake during the rain. The windows needed to be open, since the house needed airing.”

This is what my aunt, the old nurse told me, as she had hard it from her great grandmother, my great-great. I sat there staring at her, refilling the coffee, as I thought to myself, my god, what people used to go through, now they must have been so careful to attempt to avoid the often unavoidable, yet I’m going through it, suffering needlessly because I was too lazy to take out the garbage and too cheap to close the windows to let the AC run during the rain.

“I thought you would have known better,” she said. “I thought we raised you better than that.”

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