by Deborah Bernacchia
Last week, as I finished up the breakfast dishes, I noticed a small rust colored dragonfly dangling by one of its iridescent wings from a very sturdy spider web right outside my kitchen window. The dead dragonfly was perfectly formed, all of its legs still intact. I noticed how beautiful it was as it pirouetted in the breeze. I already have a gorgeous ebony colored dragonfly that I found on one of my walks this past summer. He's a beauty of a fellow; three inches long from nose to tail with a four-inch wingspan. He sits on the base of my computer, along with a few other treasures I've collected over the years. I thought the more delicate and colorful dragonfly would complement him beautifully. Besides, if I left her there the spider would turn her into a dried up mummy.
I decided to extricate her from the spider web. I moved the dish drainer, which took a few minutes because it was full and I had to put all the dishes away. Then I moved the knick-knacks that I keep on the window shelf. Being short, I then had to climb up onto the counter where the dishpan normally is. Kneeling in a puddle of water, I opened the window and carefully wound a chopstick around the sticky spider web that the dragonfly dangled from. The web was tougher than I expected and it took a few gentle tugs before it finally let go. I held the little dragonfly up to the light to gaze at the sparkles of rust embedded in her body and admire her fairy dust wings that glittered with subtle color. I wondered if it might be possible to keep the spider web attached to her wing and hang her up in my window next to my stained glass ornament. I moved the chopstick ever so slightly, at which point the dead dragonfly began furiously flapping her wings. I let out a shriek, and the dragonfly flapped even harder, no doubt frightened by my yell.
I took a deep breath to calm myself and with shaking hands, began the delicate task of extricating her wing from the sticky spider web.I feared ripping her wing off if I pulled too hard, so I snapped the web off a half inch away from her, using the same movements my mother used to break her thread when she was done sewing. The dragonfly clung to the chopstick as I carried it outside and placed it gently on the deck. I sat and watched her for a few minutes as she rubbed her forelegs together, as if to clean herself of this whole ugly mess. I went back into the house and the next time I looked she was gone. I wondered briefly if dragonflies can think, and if so, had she known just how close to death she had been. What did she make of this eleventh hour save?
I thought of all the times in my life I'd been certain disaster had struck only to find it a shadow, instead. Like when I run out of money before all the bills have been paid. I always start imagining the worst- I won't be able to pay my mortgage, they'll take my house and I'll end up on the street. I'll be in the midst of this disaster thinking when a check arrives in the mail- unexpected and very welcome. The bills get paid and I'm not in line at the homeless shelter anymore. I can relate to the relief that dragonfly may have felt being saved from the spider's kiss.
I had forgotten all about her until this morning, when I was loading up my car to take the trash to the dump. A dainty little rust colored dragonfly alighted for a brief but exhilarating moment on one of my trash bags.
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