Nub: A Virgin Wolf Redux
By Caroll Sun Yang
It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.
– Virginia Woolf
My sweet life as a killer began one afternoon in our Greenmont Village tract home, a sunny California Modern knockoff full of little imaginings and absent-minded guardians. Did I have ample opportunities for silently viewing the dust settling through the rays of sunbeams? Oh, the splendors of sprawling out on plush cream carpeting, eyes dreaming up through the acoustic ceiling, mouth agape to catch diamond dust and occasional boogers delivered by hand. I was raw and six. It happened in the “after school special” hours, the first murder, ending right before dusk. A common species of housefly or more scientifically Musca Domestica, to whom I will more intimately refer as Nub, became my lovely windowsill victim.
Nub was a portly nag with taught skin colored like polychromatic reflections off of an oil slick-that gorgeous green, onyx, and lavender swirl punctuated by six perfectly crimped legs, oh and those glorious melt-in-your-mouth wings. Seraphic! At first, I simply desired to play with him, perhaps only a minute or two. But I grew focused as seconds ticked off into a quivering line to form the most horrid and final hours of Nub’s life.
I flirted with Nub. Dangling him by a prickled leg (the hairs called tarsi working like human taste buds, tasting me now), pinning his wing (such a thing that can beat 200-300 times per second, but not at all under my watch) down with my tiny pink-painted fingernail, staring into the kidney-colored eyes (complex eyes composed of 3,000 to 6,000 simple eyes that create a mosaic of all things seen, a fractured me)—is it not all so scientific and even poetic seeming? Those plastic eyes asked what his language could not—you girl, dare observe me? That is when I broke. Glaring back into those challenging beads plugged so surely into his face, I knew I had to destroy him. I knew but did not ask why, will not ask why.
I began with the legs. Plucking one out, slow with a certainty I had never known before. It slid out easily with its sac of guts or muscle or sperm attached (what science now mattered?). I imagined he cringed, his eyes pleading stop please and his head swiveling no god no on his neck-less neck. I deposited him onto his plush forest floor and observed as he adapted to walking with only five legs, wandering in a circular fashion, toppling over strands of cut Berber.
Next came the de-winging. Nub peered up at my puffy red face and sweat-beaded summertime fun nose. His head cocked to the side, almost trusting it seemed, as I gently closed my grubby pinchers on his protesting wing. That too slid out easily. I proposed a test. Could this half-winged and partially de-limbed speck in time actually maintain flight? I cupped my hands around him, creating a dark and moist tomb for his plump body and then I threw him. I pitched him as high into his atmosphere as he might go. Into another realm, another time, another galaxy. Housefly Infinity! The thrust put my shoulder out a tad. Transcendence is rough.
Nub floated through paths of warming sunlight, his eyes colliding with minute and swirling dust pubes. At the climax of his ascent, fear seemed to paralyze him as the realization of his flightlessness struck him, the wing folded in and relinquished control. Then Nub’s descent, a little bullet going south, a wobbling mass and flash of bug. In a last ditch effort to regain power he extended the sole wing and fluttered furiously, an act that only caused him to lose any gracefulness he had so far maintained. He spiraled towards my face, buzzing at fifty percent, his spirit gone.
Land on my forehead. Tango with my lashes. Roll down my cheekbone. Graze my tendrils. Catch on my arm hairs. Fall to the ground. Gravity has you now. An insignificant thump is all that you are. You are nearly nothing, and nothing to me.
But are you alive?
I leaned over him, breathless. Exhale. My gods, he had survived. So I stripped him as he submitted to my sickness, the disease of being six, the pox of dormant guilt not yet bloomed. Most of the legs were easily persuaded, except the last. This one being more securely anchored into Nub’s thorax would only break in half. Half would suffice. Then his glorious wing, the envy of all earthbound insects, the other wing had to be totaled. I twisted the feather free from its dock and inspected it, so pretty. I dropped the delicate skin near the body, and thought about girlish things. Innocent things. Art. There was nothing left to do. I was alone and the sun was going down. I may have slept with him.
He lay there to my satisfaction—just a nub. Nub was now a black smudge to be devoured by time. Hidden in darkness. His death was inevitable; as is mine, and yet the way in which he went was so tragic and gruesome, by the hand of this human, that it warranted vows of silence amongst his family and friends. Even then, it was with hushed jaws and bent heads that they ate him. In such a way did Nub live and die, in this way does he still live, and I do and will too. It is, after all, a wondrous thing any way you figure it—life.
Caroll Sun Yang holds her BFA in Fine Art from Art Center College of Design, an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, and is a certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist. Her work appears in The Nervous Breakdown, New World Writing, MUTHA Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Books, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Necessary Fiction, Identity Theory, Word Riot and other publications. She spends hours hunched over her unborn debut collection while writeressin’ and matriarchin’ in Eagle Rock, CA. She can never have enough personality-disordered friends / lo-fi anything / human touch / sarcasm / cell photo filters / art films featuring teens / Latrinalia/ frosting flowers / bio changes. She spews forth as Caroll Sun Yang on Facebook.
“Nub: A Virgin Wolf Redux” originally appeared in Audemus in the Fall of 2010.