Dragonflies

Well, this contribution for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto is partly based on truth. This past week a mass of dragonflies showed up on radar startling meteorologists (or not; it’s a writer thing to say they were startled, right?).

Anyway, thanks to Sue. I always have some fun writes with this prompt.

For visually challenged writers, the image shows dark clouds and bare trees against a fiery sunset, with a murmration of starlings creating a cloud of their own. (In my story the starling became dragonflies.)

Dragonflies

Joey laughs as he tells me the story of the clouds showing up on radar despite clear skies. “They were thousands of migrating dragonflies.”

I pause, my hands in soapy water as I wash pots. “I didn’t know dragonflies migrated.” I guess I never thought about dragonflies other than the beautiful creatures winging around water.

“It even made the news. Google it,” he says.

I smile, except happiness is the last thing I feel. Not so long ago, I loved autumn. The chill in the air, the fragrance of woodsmoke, the crackle of leaves underfoot. Now it’s a reminder of lost things, losing things, the invincible passage of time. I used to get excited because Halloween would be coming, followed so quickly by Thanksgiving and Christmas. Such a magical time with the short days and long evenings, the crickets chirping and then the hush. Perhaps it’s the hush now that frightens me most of all.

Joey takes a long swallow from his beer bottle, some fragrant IPA that reminds me of flowers. His eyes narrow. He sets aside the bottle, comes up behind me, and runs his hands up and down my arms while his lips nuzzle my neck.

“I’m sorry,” he says.

I try out a laugh. “Why on earth?”

“Because I forget sometimes how hard this time of year is for you.”

“No. No one has to tip toe around.”

Joey hugs me tighter. How did I get so lucky to find someone so sensitive? So tuned in…to me?

“Dragonflies, Meggy. Thousands of dragonflies that looked like storms.”

I close my eyes. “I miss her.”

“I know. She was one of a kind. What’s the line from ‘Vincent’… ‘the world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.’”

I bow my head and he holds me tighter. I can almost hear Jasmine entering the kitchen, sighing. “Twenty years together and you two still act like honeymooners.” And then she’d cackle because when she was well, my little sister found everything funny, even if it wasn’t. A talent. Or a sickness.

The heating shudders on with that smell of first season heating, like something’s burning.

I place my hands on Joey’s and squeeze. “I love you so much,” I say because I need him to know. Because maybe I failed on telling my sister that she was loved.

“Yeah. I love you…and dragonflies. Dragonflies, Meggy, thousands and thousands of dragonflies.”

I laugh and smack his hand. Dragonflies.

I read once that Native Americans believe dragonflies symbol resurrection and renewal. Maybe Jasmine’s alight, soaring high, causing weather disruptions, as only she could. Hope flutters through me.

end (430 words)

Sascha Darlington

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