It was a typical Monday morning, I was at my office, fingers tapping on my keyboard sending figures dancing along my computer screen.
Then a gnat zipped by my nose. My eyes followed it until it disappeared and I remembered thinking how rare it was to see a gnat in January, even more so in an office building. I resolved to mention it to my wife over dinner, how a gnat was surviving the winter by hiding in my office feeding from whatever nutrients it might get from my ivy and aloe plants.
Suddenly, the gnat dive bombed in front of my nose again. This time I frowned, not so amused.
A third strafe and it actually flew between my eye and my eyeglasses. This time I swiped at it, knocking my glasses off and missing the gnat by a hundred gnat body lengths. By the time I’d rearranged my glasses, the gnat had disappeared.
When it came at me again, I was ready. It flew directly at me like a WW2 Japanese fighter pilot giving his life for his Emperor, and I smacked it against my forehead.
I got it, I was sure. So I checked my palm, but there was no bug. Gnats are small, their bodies so fragile that my hitting it would obliterate its tiny body. So there was no way its corpse would have fallen to the floor.
Did this mean there a black gnat smashed on my forehead? I swiped my palm across my forehead and searched for a black smudge.
My assistant chose that moment to walk in.
She saw me frowning and her expression blanked.
“Is there a dead bug on my forehead?” I asked.
She giggled, “No, there’s no gnat.”
I give her the stink eye. “You’re not lying, right? You wouldn’t let me walk around all morning with a bug on my face to get me back for pranks I pull, right?”
“Nope,” she assures me, wide-eyed and innocent. She gave me some papers to sign and left with a look and smile.
Okay, good. No dead bug guts on my head.
Back to my spreadsheet, crunching the numbers and wondering.
What if she was lying? I replayed the giggle and the last second smile. Was it a giggle because her boss had a smushed bug on his forehead? Or was she just amused that I’d been at war with a gnat? It could just as easily be either one.
But I’m her boss. She wouldn’t do that. Of course not.
So content, I went back to work.
There wasn’t a smashed bug on my face. If there were, she would have told me.
Of course she would.
But somewhere deep in my consciousness it bothered me that I hadn’t found the gnat’s body. My shallow consciousness wasn’t as confident either.
My nine o’clock appointment was in a few minutes. Important client. There’s no bug on my forehead, right?
I told myself this the whole way to the restroom to check the mirror.