2 essays — Dustin Parsons

FRUIT FLY EXTERMINATION

She’s been collecting jam jars and jelly jars and jars that you don’t remember the contents of but were probably curry sauces or pickles or something suggested by the shape of the glass to be a one-time purchase. But the memory is gone, and in its place are the fruit flies, many of them, in the summer, in the heat gathered at the sink, latched on to the surfaces and into the drain. She took a sheet of paper and pulled the two bottom ends together and a cone emerged in her hands like a tornado from the sky. Just that suddenly. At its point she left a hole so small only a fruit fly could enter. She placed that in the mouth of the jar, taped the cone to the jar after placing a bit of fruit and some vinegar in the bottom. It seems like she should be interested in what happened next, but she wasn’t. Flies came. By the afternoon there were more than one could have reasonably thought were in the entirety of the house. The flies circle the opening, hovering for a moment before settling in to land and then they do a curious thing—they crawl in. They crawl into the opening pulling themselves upside down into the cone, the hole they enter they’ll never be able to find again. Then, one must expect, comes the ecstasy. The jar is amber colored, a disco ball of insects making laps on the dance floor to the apple vinegar and the now-rotting peach. This is the ripe fruit of oblivion: an odor so thick and controlling the fruit fly forgoes its life to stay. Too many fly in the thick fruit air finding no purchase, succumbing to the shortness of their lives. By afternoon, the jar has its population. The summer is like that, a jar of warmth and sweet smells. Lost in thought until sleep takes you. It all starts with the paper tornado and the sweet fruit and the apple vinegar. The warmth of the afternoon and the summer fruit fly lifespan. The jar the shape of some beautiful thing it once held, which it holds, which it will hold again.

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GEODE

I must have cracked about twenty geodes at my sons’ birthday party. I selected a small finish hammer and tapped the geodes lightly but regularly along a line like an equator, turning and tapping, turning and tapping. Inside were the dirty brown crystals of the common geode. Some broke in a simple half, along a line I followed, but others burst forth their crystals in fragments. I thought this might disappoint the children, but the shards delighted them, and I began to think something inside of them desired the breaking apart. Where were the exotic purple crystals the directions suggested might be there? I tapped and another was thrust at me. I tapped the rock, trying to expose the crystalized gas trapped in the volcanic residue so many years before. It was mid summer, the boys and girls holding their rocks with the promise that their geode would be the one especially for them. And my sons, I could see them as adults thumbing their shards of geode in a pocket, some charm they kept for the rest of their lives. And their wives making sure it didn’t get tossed in a can with the rest of the change at the end of the day, and their kids, someday, years later, tapping at my arm and shoulder to open them up a geode and I’d gladly take up the hammer and split myself apart to see what crystal metastasized and oh their delight not at my simple splitting but at my bursting forth.

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Dustin Parsons has work most recently in Indiana Review, Fugue, New Delta Review, Laurel Review, and Crab Orchard Review. He teaches at SUNY Fredonia and lives in Western New York with his wife and sons. Find more about him at dustinparsons.info