E.A. Petricone’s story “Not All Rot Is Ruin” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 22 January 2021.
A few things were on my mind when I started writing “Not All Rot Is Ruin”:
Grief, for one—particularly the type that’s tough to hang a hat on. Grief for the things that you don’t do, or the doors that close as you make choices (or don’t make choices…which is a choice), grief for the things you’ll never be and the fantasies you never realize.
Letting go seems like a form of decomposition (with all its attendant ickiness and miracle). It’s not pretty and it’s certainly not fun but it’s one of the “realest” human experiences—and it’s how we get to better things.
Meanwhile the image of dead flies coming out of a person’s head just kept coming up in my mind.
I’m a “pantser” writer, anyway (I might know a few beats of a story beforehand but how the heck anything happens is a discovery process) and this was one of my pantsiest stories. I didn’t know where Leda was going to go next or what the twins would say. Absurdity (in thought, in action, in the world) always seems to be grief-adjacent, so I embraced that and let Leda lead me along.
Not sure if this belongs here, but something funny happened on the day I completed the revisions for “Not All Rot is Ruin.”
So, it’s been years since any flies have found their way into my apartment. But on the day I sent my final revisions in to Morris—like, not just the day but within a half-hour of sending the email—two robust and very buzzy flies came out of nowhere and started chaotically flying around the kitchen and living room.
Where did they come from? All the windows were closed and I’d been at my desk for hours and hadn’t seen or heard a thing.
Typically my policy is to relocate all the small and “you’re great, but outside” animals—I have a spider jar by the door that’s kind of like the Popemobile, except it’s for transporting spiders and disgruntled beetles and stuff—but the flies were so wicked annoying. They had two wide-open windows to escape through, but they preferred to bounce off everything else instead.
I tried waving them out, I tried sneaking up on them and getting them in a jar, I got so frustrated that I got a broom and was ready to swing and squish. But that didn’t feel right.
Ultimately it took me twenty minutes to get them out, one by shoo and one by jar. I still don’t know how they got in that day, and not a single fly has buzzed in the apartment since.
It’s probably a total coincidence that they showed up right then, but in the scheme of fly symbolism, it seems like a good sign, right? A hat tip from the living to the fictional dead. In any case, I hope that once my visitors escaped they lived happy fly lives and played good fly roles in the ecosystem.
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