Step one: Hear the fly.
Sitting at the dinner table, you realize your house makes all sorts of strange noises when finally empty. Spend several minutes making sure that it is actually a fly and not just the refrigerator slightly humming louder than normal, or that someone broke into your home and is making an especially strange noise. Wait for the hairs on the back of your neck to lie flat again.
Step two: Locate the fly.
This involves instead staring blankly at your dinner, which is really just an excuse, just a helping of the casserole most conveniently stacked in the fridge. Wait for the fly to land, as it inevitably will, and maybe secretly relish the invitation to be distracted by something.
Step three: Flex your reflexes.
When the fly commits to sitting again, hit the table as hard as possible. If it escapes, do not nurse your throbbing hand. This shows weakness. Try to trap the fly between your palms, until you feel its buzzing is just mocking your accidental applause.
Step four (optional): Bring out weaponry.
You didn’t want to stoop to this level, but sometimes it’s necessary. First try and smack it with the flower brochure you left sitting by your meal. When that proves to be too flimsy, go get the flyswatter, the red one, the moving gift from your father. Wave it around wildly, so the fly is fully aware of what it’s up against.
Step five: Stalk the fly.
Carefully position yourself so that your shadow will not fall over the fly when you go to hit it. Move slowly and control your breathing. Lure it into a false sense of security. Let the fly pretend it’s won.
Step six: Kill the fly.
Bring down the flyswatter of justice. Scream, let out a primal yell, if it feels right to you. Let all the bugs in your domain know that your dinner is not to be trifled with, and you will show no mercy to those that dare test you.
Step seven: Google a fly’s lifespan.
Grip the flyswatter, tighter, until the grooved handle imprints itself on your palm. Mourn all the things that it probably was never able to do, like go to Europe or meet its grandchildren.
Step eight: Give the fly a proper burial.
You’re already sweeping your former foe into an empty matchbox when you realize that flies don’t need burial rites. Take a deep breath. Try not to think of the seven stages of grief pamphlet sitting on the table. Close your eyes. Do not cry. Do not cry.
Step ten: Return to eating.
When your mother calls you about your father’s funeral arrangements and an inevitable silence overtakes the phone call, lie and tell her about how you totally killed a fly on the first try. When the quiet returns, realize that you don’t have anything more to give.