By Brian Hurley

Gustave Flaubert and I are hunting a mosquito.

Gustave is not much of a hunter. He is 329 pages of wood pulp and ink. But when we corner the bug I’ll need him to deliver the final blow. I don’t want to smear blood and wings on my hand.

A moment ago I thought we had done it, but when I pulled Gustave away it was only a dustball that lay flattened on the rug.

The mosquito must have sucked itself full last night. But tonight, when I lay down in bed, it buzzed in my ear again. I got up. I sealed off the room. I grabbed Gustave. We will not rest until we kill it.

My old bites itch. Like they know the mosquito is close. I wonder if Sasha’s itch, too.

That little fucker put her in the hospital. For me the bites were annoying, but hers set off an allergic reaction. Or got infected. Either way, they turned to stone and she woke up crying next to me. I helped her to the emergency room. They’re keeping her overnight on an IV drip of antibiotics.

She’ll probably never sleep with me again.

As I left the hospital she looked at me funny and said, “If you see that stupid bug, kill it for me.” I said I would absolutely destroy it.

She’ll probably never sleep with me again regardless.

My eyes are dry and my limbs feel heavy.

What does Gustave have to say?

Emma was becoming difficult, capricious. She would order herself a dish and then not touch it, would drink nothing but plain milk one day and then, the next, cups of tea by the dozen. She would often refuse to stir from the house, but then would say she was stifling…

Not helpful, Gustave!

What’s the lifespan of a mosquito? It can’t be more than a few days. Maybe I’ll wait until the bug is definitely dead, and when I see Sasha I’ll be vague about it. “Remember that little fucker who put you in the hospital? He won’t bother you again. Do you want to maybe hang out tonight?”