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The O:JA&L Masters Series
Flash Fiction

Featured Writer: Roberta Allen


To explore more of Allen’s work, click on the link First It Happens, Then I Make It Up to access her free PDF chapbook from O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press.
Untitled image by Roberta Allen

There’s a fly in my ear. I hear it buzzing. It can’t get out. It’s not the only insect I hear buzzing. There are plenty of biting flies and mosquitoes in this tiny room but fortunately the others are not in my ear. The flies and mosquitoes come in through the open windows. We have to keep the windows open, otherwise we would die from the heat. I wake him up. There’s a fly in my ear I tell him at 3 A.M. He turns on the flashlight, takes a pair of tweezers from a case. Carefully, he extracts the insect, shows it to me. It’s bigger than I thought. He goes back to sleep. But I stay awake, thinking about this fly in my ear. What would I have done if he wasn’t here? Somehow that seems to be the wrong question. I have traveled all over the world. Never before have I had a fly in my ear. Why now? If I were alone, surely this wouldn’t have happened. This happened only because he is here. This romance has made my head spin. I have let myself get carried away. Maybe that fly was trying to tell me something. Maybe that fly was trying to bring me back to earth. Do I sound absurd? Did that fly mean nothing at all? Is meaning something only we add on to things?

Published in NEW MICRO: Exceptionally Short Fiction, W.W. Norton, 2019
Published in Certain People by Roberta Allen, Coffee House Press, 1997
Published in Chelsea, 1993


About the writer:
A Tennessee Williams Fellow in Fiction and a Yaddo Fellow, ROBERTA ALLEN is an American micro and short story writer, novelist, and memoirist with nine published books, including her latest story collection The Princess of Herself. She taught creative writing at The New School for many years and has taught at Columbia University. Since 1991, she has taught private writing workshops. She is also well-regarded internationally as a conceptual artist.

Image: Untitled photograph from the Secret Worlds 2 Series  by Roberta Allen. Manipulated in camera. No technical information specified. By 2023. By permission.

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