I met a butterfly man on the corner, his soft hands barrelled around a rifle.
I asked him, Where’s your net, Mr Butterfly Man? Why are your wings folded back?
His eyes goggled at me from atop their antennae and he shook his head, spat neatly onto the hot concrete between us. His lips were peeling back off his jagged teeth. The skin around his mouth flaked away, the skin around his fingernails immaculate.
He shook his head and snarled,
Don’t get involved, girlie. I’m off to fight dragonflies today.
I met a butterfly man on the corner, with his home on his back, off to see the world.
He told me not to wait for him. He told me that he would return.
We have to chase the dragonflies, otherwise they’ll get to us first, you see?
Do you see?
I saw his dusty shoes and how lightly he carried the rifle.
Can I hold it?
But he took something out from his pocket
instead. Take this. Something heavy and warm, something that pulsed in my hand and trickled red down my arms. This is from a dragonfly. They do this to us as well, you see? They carry the butterfly nets, to catch us with. And once a dragonfly has you in his grip, he’ll pin you to the wall forever.
I held it beating in my hand and could almost hear the dragonfly’s whisper coming from the empty chambers. Who knew that dragonflies
had hearts like men? Who knew that we were so alike?
A low whistle in the distance and the Butterfly Man cocked his head.
They’re coming. They’re coming.
I have to leave, you understand. But hold onto this for me. I will return.
But how will I find you? How will you find me?
He aims his rifle and thunder shatters the air around us.
The blood runs down my fingers. The Butterfly Man runs up the street. In the
distance I hear someone yelling, and I say quietly, Don’t holler, shout.