i don’t know why . . .

June 26, 2022

I wage war against flies on a daily basis. Thanks to our porch structure, farm life, and tendency to go light on air conditioning, we often have bothersome intruders. I keep a flyswatter handy and periodically go on murderous sprees. One evening last week I started counting out loud. Peter, attempting to get in his afternoon nap, was interrupted by my periodic, gleeful announcements. 16 . . . 19 . . . 21! I know how to woo a man.

There was an old lady . . .

For 4 weeks, the petite 6 year old had been feeling a discomfort in her ear. She no longer complained of pain—though I suspect it had been there initially, dulled by the passage of time. Thanks to her lack of a social security number, her parents were ineligible for health care for her, and so they had not been able to go to a regular hospital. When she first came to us, 2 weeks ago, we did not have the right equipment. We had attempted to clear out the blockage but the machine had failed so, 45 minutes later, the doctor seeing her that day had given up, asking them to make an appointment for later, and hoping, praying, that we would be able to get the equipment in time.

We did.

The beginning of the appointment this week went smoothly enough but, after the ordeal she had gone through before, when we held up the water pic to her ear, she panicked. For the first 10 minutes, 3 of us attempted to get to her ear, trying to assure her that it did not hurt, and that it was just water. The doctor paused at one point, stood back up, touched the girl lightly on the shoulder, and asked if she wanted a break. She nodded and, as I watched, a switch seemed to flip inside her. I wondered if she realized that she had the ability to do something, and that it was up to her to be strong. She told us that she would like to sit in the chair, rather than lie down on the exam table.

The doctor gently lifted her up, placed her in the chair, and then asked, “Lista?”

Almost imperceptibly, she lifted her chin up, and back down again, and braced herself.

The machine began its whirring, and the girl’s fists clenched. But she remained still. The water streamed into the cup I held under her ear for about 5 minutes, as it filled up. Running low on water, the doctor paused and stood up. As she did so, she stopped and peered more closely into the cup. “Ohhh-los pies!”

We all stared in and there, indeed, were a pair of unmistakeable insect feet.

She quickly got up, rushing out to get more water into the machine and then, back again, we started up with the whirring. A few minutes later she once again paused, looking into the cup, and then saying, “Oh, never mind. I thought I saw something . . .”

I looked in again, and then gasped. She followed my lead, looking more closely. And then we collectively cheered. So loudly that the entire clinic was watching when we later emerged from the exam room. For there, floating in all its water-logged glory, was the largest fly I have ever seen. 

We practically danced out of the room that day. The little girl beamed from ear to ear, her ponytail dripping as if she’d just gotten out of the swimming pool. 

She took home with her not one, but two of the Imagination Library books we keep as prizes, walking out that day holding up her board books as if they were banners waving triumphantly behind her. They might as well have been.


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