The Asking Years

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Zora Neale Hurston

When I sit down to write, there’s a fly bashing its body against the glass. I stand and walk towards it, moving slowly as to avoid startling him. I push open the window above the sink, and the kitchen door, too, and then pull shut the squeaky partition to the dining room in an effort to coax this creature towards his freedom, hoping this single act of mercy will not wake my toddler.

Go outside, I say.

The rain is invisible against the dark sky, but I can hear it landing along the gutters, tiny metallic pings floating into the space above our kitchen sink.

Apart from the sound of rain and the buzzing of trapped wings, our house is still.

But the fly will not go.

He is beating the kitchen air, the doorframe, the light in the ceiling.

Oh, come on, I mutter. I’m supposed to be writing right now.

It is the same annoyed tone I use when my son wakes early, when he skips a nap, when the mailman manages to muscle a pile of junk mail through the slot directly onto the battery-powered soccer goal in the middle of naptime.


It is the same voice I use when I feel behind, when my pants feel tight, when there is no way to strong arm my way into the place I want to be.

When I was in labor, I asked the nurse if I would be having the baby today.

She smiled and said, Babies take the time they take.

Those were not reassuring words.

Time is something I tolerate, barely. Badly.

Children and flies aren’t plagued with this same worry, neither is healing, or growth, or creativity. It doesn’t matter how much you delve into the process, how many doors you slam, or sighs you exhale, there are things that cannot be rushed, only received.

So I turn off the lights in the kitchen and wait.

It is just me and the fly here in the dark, listening for the other. Maybe it’s silly to pray that an insect will go safely, but I do. And before I finish asking, I can hear a fluttering. I see his tiny body pass through the stream of light above the back step. It is just an instant, the tiniest of moments, and then he is gone.

The house is even quieter.

I close the door quickly; the window, too. And then I sit for a long while in the dark, without anything to write.

Tomorrow, I say. Today was full enough.

CLAIRE CAREY DEERING believes less is more, in writing and in life.



  1. Claire, thank you for sharing this lovely set of images. The fly’s body bashing walls and windows is such a familiar sound (and, I might say familiar feeling, too!) xoxo


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