I spot it flitting around, perched atop a light beige potato, mid-bump.
My hands shoo it away and I return to rummaging around my distracted mind.
There are dishes to wash, errands to run. A small fruit fly represents a black speck in the intergalactic constellation of tasks I am to accomplish that day.
Days ramble by. In between frantic runs around my home, I notice the speck multiplied. At least twenty fruit flies now amble around, taunting, flirtatious, convening for a casual bug conference of some kind.
I grab my fly swatter; my superbly crafted, intelligently designed, beloved fly swatter. I may have a lot of compassionate inside my five-foot-four frame, but I allocate none of it for pests.
Bam! Splat! Bleep! Glip!
Red specks of evil fly goo mark up my cream cabinet doors, the tarnished sight a victory flag for my eyes.
My arms fly, knees launching off the ground, and my children watch, wide-eyed, pausing to look up from Netflix, as Mommy dives around the house dislocating fruit fly bodies.
Split! Splat! Gloomp!
Days go by. Armed with my blue swatter, about to go about another daily, blood-thirsty splatting routine, I look around- on the walls, the ceiling, and the hallway- and I see.
I see that despite my regimented killing sprees, there are hundreds of flies still perched, calmly eyeing me. There are many, many more than the night before, just when I thought I was making headway.
My shoulders slump, and my hearts turns onto itself. My fly swatter slips out of my loose fingers, barely registering a ping as its delicate frame bounces. It’s over. There are five or six hundred bugs, at least, witnessing my defeat.
“Infestation,” my mouth finally utters, my lips crawling around that word and hoping for mercy by the damning verdict.
Visitors who enter our home at first laugh when I preempt them with our situation, and then, their eyes darting around as they take in the full reality, rock back and forth uneasily, not knowing whether to sit down or to run, how much fear to show, or if fruit flies, like dogs, can sense fear.
Husband arms himself with the vacuum cleaner for a few days, determined to suck up the invaders, but he, too, throws it down to the floor in despair. We are no match for the magical, horrible bug that never dies; the ones that disappear post-killing rampage, only to reemerge in greater numbers the next sunrise.
“Where?” we wonder, running out of our invaded home every morning as soon as we are able,“Where is our cure, our salvation?”
It comes quickly when the hearty exterminator opens up the door below the sink, and reveals a broken pipe and a standing puddle; the breeding ground, the pool party for our fruit flies.
Like the broken rib that revealed RBG’s lung cancer underneath, we find more beneath the rotten floor boards our handyman rips out to fix the leak. There, he points out, is black mold growing, festering.
Through suffering, argued Rav Soloveitchik, comes redemption, and I see our weeks of pest-horror in this context, as I stare in dismay at the silent, toxic black clumps under the puddle surrounded by flies.
Our work beckons. Our life calls to be dug out, reexamined, rebuilt. We need to move slower, think things out more cautiously, be more detail-oriented. Make things more precious. Once we break this down and reconstruct, we hope to be stronger, healthier, more vibrant.
Not only will the mold be gone, the floor boards reconstructed, and the fruit flies vanquished, but we will find the air we didn’t even realize we desperately needed to breathe.