and the stain it left on the floor was bulbous and black like the mole on your chin.
I didn’t really kill the dragonfly.
At first, I wanted to. The three foot long creation stumbled into my room from my window, wicked drunk, flickering its long legs and raising hell while it did so. It landed on my desk and scattered everything in its frenzy. Down went my calculus homework, the taxes I was filing for you, my cell phone, the only way I could communicate this obvious emergency to anybody. I screamed bloody murder, and it seemed to scream too, a vivid, high pitched, yawning sound that resounded through the whole room. So, I got up, scrambling away from my desk, and splattered myself against a wall. It started staring at me with those diamond-like, multi-faceted compound eyes that saw everything.
I could see my pathetic self in its eyes. My long black hair, my golden-rimmed glasses, the Pantera shirt I had slept in the night before. That was me, a less than good-looking, seventeen-year-old boy scared shitless.
I froze in my chair while I watched: damn it all, this was not a good day to leave the window open! The afternoon was deluged out there in the heavy rainfall – that the dragonfly had collected on its transparent, red wings and begin splashing all over my homework - that lasted since the night before. A light mist hung out over the quiet lake outside, and that’s why I thought it a prime day to open my two-foot window (I’m not even sure how the beast managed to squeeze its body through the billowing drapes to my window). The rain from outside had brought in a refreshing scent, but now I felt more nauseated than anything.
But back to the dragonfly.
It screeched again like I screamed again. The red shell plastered to its slender body glistened with rain, while its green face looked around frantically. It was like it was accusing me of having such a tiny, messy little room when it was the intruder here! How was it to judge?
Continuing to crawl around in the disjointed way insects do, it began climbing all over my computer. It was at least three times bigger than the monitor, and my face went cold with sweat. I must have stood there for at least ten minutes, knees locked, trying to figure out what to do.
6:45 P.M. I need to finish this calculus homework, but more importantly I need to file your tax information so you don’t hurt me again. How can I accomplish either object when the dragonfly is –
Oh God, what exactly is it doing now?
Damp wings attempted to flitter toward me, and I yelled so loudly my voice became raspy. The dragonfly made a valiant attempt to fly, but it stopped short and fell two meters before it touched me. The rubbing of those wings together scratched at my soul for eternity. It struggled and squirmed on the carpeted floor, digging its legs into the floor like it was an anchor. The bulbous head tried to look up at me, as if asking for help.
This was where I thought, damn it all, again. I was paralyzed earlier. I had wanted it to die. For five minutes, I must have argued between fetching all of the household chemicals locked away in my bathroom, and…well, I don’t know what else I could have done at the moment. It’s not that I wanted it to die. Rather, it was a messy, sad excuse for a burden: in fact, I was so sure that it was going to die because its wings were damp. Isn’t that the story? Don’t dragonflies only live for twenty-four hours, and are pretty much incapacitated when their wings are wet? If it can’t fly and get itself food, then it can’t mate, and then it’ll die without any babies. I was going to spare it that horrible life. I was the better person.
So, the next step surprised me. It was like I was watching myself from somebody else’s eyes, maybe the dragonfly’s eyes, because even I wasn’t sure why I was doing this. I found my legs eventually and slowly walked downstairs to the kitchen. There was not a sound except for the steady patter of rain outside, and the clock on the oven that screamed at me in vivid green letters: 7:29 P.M. I’m wasting my time helping this dragonfly when I could be doing my calculus or filing your tax information.
I kept asking why, why, why. I still had no answer when I trudged back to my room with the dog’s saucepan and a bottle of water. Why am I doing this? I asked to nobody. When I saw the dragonfly, I was still scared out of my mind and trembled. I watched its every single movement, every wiggle against the carpet, as I loaded the saucepan with a little bit of the water. I backed away the second I did it, like the saucepan was a sudden bomb.
But ugh, it couldn’t get up from its squirming position! What was I supposed to do, bring the saucepan to its struggling body?
Another heart-breaking screech filled the room. I did exactly just that.
It sipped the water wholeheartedly, a fine connoisseur of fresh water, its feelers rubbing against one another excitedly as if in applause. The entire contents of the bottle of water was gone within one minute. For a brief moment, I lamented how much more awful this scenario would be if it was a mosquito and that bottle of water was a bottle of my blood.
It lifted its gargantuan head off the floor, making that yawning noise but in a higher, healthier pitch.
I don’t know why, but I enjoyed that. So, I returned downstairs to fetch it more food. I struggled to think about what dragonflies actually eat; we raised dragonflies in biology, but nobody really thinks about why we do what we do or how. All that matters is that we dissect dead animals and make loin diagrams. This is the truth, so when I remembered that insects like this one needed meat, I was happy to retrieve the bacon from the refrigerator. I love this bacon, but you don’t let me eat it; you tell me I’m already a greasy, disgusting pig of a boy, and you wouldn’t dare make me a cannibal to my own race.
That’s why I’m happy to fry this bacon up. The sizzles of my revenge crackle and pop off of my Pantera shirt, but I don’t mind. I look at the clock on the oven again. 8:01 P.M., and I’m cooking bacon for the dragonfly that tumbled into my room when I could be filing your tax information.
When I return to the room, the dragonfly has flittered to my desk again. It shifts its body with a scratching noise on my desk and seems to smile at me. It reveals two huge suckers for teeth.
Slowly, I set down the plate of bacon for the creature. I’m not as scared of it as I was earlier, but I don’t want to catch some awful disease from it. So, I watch from afar, like usual, as the dragonfly liquefies the bacon with a shot of steaming liquid from its mouth: the smell of it is putrid, but I can’t shift my eyes away as the dragonfly slurps up the bacon, a puddle of brown grease. This is pretty cool. I’m going to throw that plate away, but it’s still pretty cool.
I see the time from the corner of my monitor: 8:20 P.M. You’re going to be home any minute now, and then you’re going to hurt me for not filing your tax information. I need to buck up and do your taxes for you, because I don’t want to get hurt again. The last bruise still burns on my hip, through my clothes, through my pride to remind me that I’m not as strong as I wish I was. I had to tell my dumb girlfriend that it was a Cutie Mark. She believed me.
So, I close my eyes as I feel my way past my desk, where I know it has just finished the bacon, to my computer. Droplets of water fall from the monitor, remnants of where the beast crawled all over it two hours ago. The noise it makes behind me reminds me of a helicopter, but my ears are slowly getting used to it. I click onto the YouTube tab I had opened before this mess even started, and click the video. Fleet Foxes’ smooth vocals brushes through the room, and it’s like the dragonfly doesn’t exist.
He was so kind, such a gentleman tied to the Oceanside
Lighting a match on the suitcase’s latch in the fading of night
Ruffle the fur of the collie ‘neath the table
Ran out of the door through the dark
Carved out of his initials in the bark
The music guides me to a happy place, and I grab the container that I had stolen from you earlier. To hell with your tax information; you’re old enough to do this yourself, and why should I be doing this anyway? I know that I’m going to get hurt, but as I swallow the medication, I don’t care about much. I’m never going to finish this calculus homework, my girlfriend thinks I’m a pony, and you’re going to hurt me. But. There’s an awesome dragonfly behind me, hanging out with me like nobody’s done in such a long time, and I realize that nothing else really matters.
9:18 P.M. is what my computer says when I wake up from my little nap. The YouTube video is still running, and I’m too numb from the medication to scream when I see what the dragonfly is doing a few meters away from me.
But listen. I don’t want to scream out of fear. I want to scream because what I’m witnessing is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s dancing to the exotic drums and beats of the music; those fully healed wings flap to every shake, every moment. Brilliant shadows of red reflect off of the walls as it twirls up and down in the air, its wings adding a unique musical effect to the joy unfolding in this dreary little room. It’s like fairy magic happening right here, right now, and to me.
Maybe I’m still drugged out of my mind and dreaming this whole thing. But I don’t care; I’ve never seen anything cooler, and I grab my old acoustic guitar from the corner of my room. I lost interest in music such a long time ago; I was worried that I wouldn’t remember how to pluck the old wood. This guitar was a gift from you when you still cared about me. But an instrument is an instrument, and I have someone to play to for once.
Then the Earth shook, that was all that it took for the dream to break
All the loose ends would surround me again in the shape of your face
I play and it dances for what feels like forever. I’m happy; I feel the emotion soaking through me, wine to the empty red goblet, water to a suffocating dragonfly. The YouTube video isn’t over yet, but it doesn’t matter because I’m here with it and it me, and we’re having the greatest time I’ve ever had in my entire life. It bounces off the walls, a professional acrobat, and creates illusions in its thin red wings by fluttering them at a super fast rate. My head is swimming with the magic, and I want to leave this place with it.
11:00 P.M. is the time blaring itself on the clock when I hear you force your key through the lock. You said you would be home at 8:30 P.M., and it is no surprise to see you drunk out of your mind when you stumble into the house. Like mother, like son, I foggily think as I hear you spill absurdities into the air. You’re spoiling the atmosphere, and the dragonfly stops dancing and seems to want to hide behind me. I’m not scared of it anymore. I put the guitar down and hug the thing full on: its slimy, cold shell meets the warmth of my arms, damn the diseases, damn what will happen next, damn it all.
You crawl into my room, obnoxious, rude, contagious like the insect I know you are. You’re so absorbed with yourself that you gargle out something incomprehensible about the tax information that you couldn’t do yourself. You fall onto the floor when you see the dragonfly in my arms, like it’s the rude one when you’re the one scrambling about like a fool. I say nothing to you but whether it’s because I’m numb or because I’m ashamed to see you, I’m not sure.
You swear that you’re going to get the bug spray, anything, a bomb even, to exterminate my little guy right here. I struggle up, the dragonfly in my arms, and run out of my room. My sensations are jolted, and I’ve fallen over three times trying to make it successfully somewhere safe. I’m not sure how I’ve done it, but the dragonfly and I have made it down to the kitchen again. It makes soft, whimpering noises in my arms, like it knows what’s going to happen.
Bursting from your room to the kitchen, you return with the largest bug-swatter I’ve ever seen. The wooden contraption has holes in it, a paddle, the very same one that you used to torture me with when I was a kid. I’m a bug to you. I don’t know how to escape and I don’t know why you’re such a terrible person.
I know that I want to protect the dragonfly, so when you lunge after the poor little guy in my arms, I don’t mind shielding the hit for it by taking the swishing wooden weapon full on. My arms burn from the contact point and I scream; you’re a terrible person, a terrible mother as you beat me down with the paddle until I can’t see anymore but I’m still conscious, conscious enough to feel agony drain me as you’ve beaten me down to the ground and my head is cracked against the tile.
My arms struggle to cradle the dragonfly in my arms, because I don’t want him to die. You’re so stupid or such an awful mother you don’t know who your real target is, and you start crying over me after your fit, like you don’t know the difference between your own son and a bug because I am a bug. Your chocked sobs fill the kitchen and the dragonfly shrieks in response, bringing your attention back to it.
You swear the coldest profanities I’ve ever seen and aim the paddle high above your head again – the dragonfly is still in my arms, you idiot – but as you prepare to bring down hell on us, the dragonfly shouts one more time. My vision seems separated; three images of you and it over my head dance in my mind, taunting me, and it’s like I have compound eyes. I recognize the awful odor that permeates the room against the scent of my metallic blood that’s starting to stain the tile.
The dragonfly sprays its horrid liquefying chemical, and your resulting scream breaks my eardrums. This was the first time I’ve ever smelt burnt flesh, and I was happy I didn’t have to see your contorted face at that moment. I would never have to see your face ever again.
I know that the dragonfly’s attempt to melt your face off failed. I knew I was crying, and I smelt the salt of my tears mingling with the blood pooling at my head. There was nothing more I could have done for it. I wanted to apologize for your actions to it. You must have raised the paddle high over your head again like the rough hand you would raise above my little head ever since I was six.
When you smacked the dragonfly, you smacked me too, and my guts exploded all over your walls.