Jewel of the day you shimmered and glistened in the stagnant heat of the day. Unlucky for you just one more insect was needed to complete my collection.
Resplendent in black and gold stripes and equipped with strong translucent wings, never before and never again have I seen a dragonfly to match your beauty.
By the time I returned with my poison laced container I secretly hoped you would have flown away and therefore avoid a terrible fate. Instead you remained steadfast at your post, allowing me to close in and steal your freedom.
Holding the container to my chest all I could hear and all I could feel was the frantic beating of wings as you fought against your unnatural prison. I came close, so close, to opening the lid and allowing you to reclaim the air. Shamefully I convinced myself that you had already ingested too much poison and that your release would not necessarily mean your survival. Your beating wings had not yet started to slow and so I carefully lifted a corner of the container and slipped in some more poison hoping that it would speed your journey on.
Your wings beat on and I could picture the panic that you must have been feeling. Unable to bear it anymore and dark with guilt I walked away so I wouldn’t have to hear that sound.
A few moments later when I returned all was quiet; you were no more. I opened the lid and lifted your small lifeless body out of your plastic tomb. You were the perfect specimen, requiring little adjustment to be correctly pinned with my other insects.
I tried to tell myself that it didn’t really matter, as you were only a dragonfly. But you and the sound of your beating wings stayed with me. What had I really learnt from this assignment? Certainly nothing about science. I had learnt that at a critical moment my fear of failure rather than my heart had dictated my behaviour and driven my decision; a sobering realisation.
Even now some thirteen years later you remain with me still, the ghost of my memories and symbol of my unabated guilt. I search for you at every turn. I look for you in the garden; I look for you in the jewellery that I buy and the decorations that adorn my home. While I can never return your life or undo what I did that day, by surrounding myself with images of you I am confronted with my decision and reminded that there is no such thing as only having one option. The heart and the conscience should always take precedence.
After all was completed and the assignment was returned I was able to grant you your freedom once more, though sadly not your life. I placed you in a tree at the bottom of the pathway where you stay in immortal memory. Once more returned to nature and able to shimmer and glisten in the sunlight.