I drove my old gray Buick nonchalantly, enduring another 40-minute commute from work to home. Repeated smacks to the dashboard had no effect on the spotty radio reception, so I turned it off and contented myself with listening to the wind roar at my window at 75 miles an hour.
I was hot.
The stuffy air and lack of air conditioning forced me to roll down my passenger side window halfway to try and cool off. As the wind started to dry the sweat that had beaded on my forehead, my thoughts wandered to random thoughts … Job. Women. Food. THWACK.
I felt a sudden sting as something sharp struck my right temple with force. Grabbing instinctively for my head in pain, my left arm jostled the steering wheel. The car lurched into the left lane, causing the nearby truck to hit the brakes. My adrenaline tingling hands then grabbed the wheel and righted the car.
I exhaled sharply and felt discombobulated, wondering what it was that I hit. A rock, I figured. A piece of glass, maybe. I didn’t know. A minute passed, and I started to lose interest. That’s when I looked down at my passenger seat and saw it. A big green bug.
My stomach retched in disgust of the large dragonfly-ish creature that was writhing on my shirt in the seat next to me. I thought it might fly in my face again, so I didn’t try to shoo it out of the window. I just kept driving to my destination, back straight, with one eye glancing sideways at the insect sitting by me. The collar of my shirt was draped around the back of it, and I hoped that it would serve to trap the bug from wanting to attack me again.
Minutes wore on, and I found myself losing fear of the bug. I relaxed a little and started watching the bug more out of curiosity than fear. How did it get in my car? Would it ever fly again?
A half-smile crept on my face as I thought of it as someone that I had picked up and was giving a ride to. He was Danny the Dragonfly, and all he wanted was to go to the store.
Finally, I pulled into a grocery store and eased my car to a stop. I opened my door and walked around to the other side and pulled the passenger side door wide. Then I grabbed the navy-blue button up shirt and pulled it off like a magician unveiling a dove by whisking away a handkerchief.
It shivered and spasmodically moved its legs, but it could not fly. All my fear melted into a form of whimsical sadness. I found myself kneeling on the pavement of the parking lot staring intently at the fallen dragonfly. I came close enough to see the bluish swirl on his head and gasped at the beauty of the mark. Perhaps earlier, I would of thought that such art seemed out of place for such a cold, insignificant thing.
Now, I realized that this creature’s entire body was art, and the swirl was just the signature. Another epiphany then came to me as I gently picked the dragonfly up and put him in my hand. I was sad that Danny was dying, but I realized that he had lived his life doing exactly what he had been built for: flying. And with his life force draining out of him, flying again was all he wanted to accomplish.
If only humans were the same way, I thought. How often do we do the things we were built for before we die?
Looking around, I finally set Danny in the top compartment of an abandoned shopping cart near the side of the store. He was moving slowly at this point; barely shaking his frail limbs. But for a brief moment, right when I set him in the rusty cart, he sat up straight and flapped two of his wings.
Walking away, l thought I heard the wind tickle his wings one last time.
[Ryan Smith is a 25-year old reporter and freelance writer who is writing a dramatic musical based on the life of a mosquito named Mickey.]
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