An offering of flash fiction where one’s benevolence and wit is continually taken for granted, like the natural beauty that encircles and encompasses our lives…
by: Michele E. Reisinger
This was supposed to be my day to do whatever. Sleep in. Putter in the garden. Meet Acacia for lunch. Read. I’ve been on the same page of the same book since March. Mandi’s post last night ruined my plans, unexploded ordnance tick, tick, ticking behind my eyes. I pop an Imitrex and swallow dry.
Meanwhile dragonflies are dive bombing my deck. A cacophony of color, for two days they’ve been targeting my backyard, sipping from my pool and leaving wet imprints on the dark wood rails. Their wings’ low-pitched vibrations massage my throbbing temples.
“They’re beautiful,” I tell my husband. In the kitchen, we sip our coffee standing. Black for him. Sweet for me.
“They’re creepy as fuck,” he says. “All those eyes.”
Five, in fact, each with thousands of lenses, thousands of photoreceptors that read light and tell them how to navigate. I study them through ribbons of steam. My husband wants them gone. He wants them exterminated. He woke me as he readied for work this morning. “I need you to X and Y and Z,” he said. “Since you’re off,” he said. “Since you’re not busy.” Sorry, Mom. Busy, busy, busy, texted Acacia at four AM. She’s forgotten our lunch but remembered to send me her blah blah blah blah blah for review. Please and thank you, emoji-face.
I don’t recall the last time I’ve seen her, unless you count Zoom. Which I don’t. Mother guilt smudges my keypad. I text then delete a teary cat-face.
“They’re good luck,” I tell my husband. “They eat my garden pests.”
The front door eats his answer.
Last night, the news said the dragonflies are swarming. Clouds of them detectable by weather satellites. Unusual but not unheard of. Migrating, they said.
Or zooming from disaster.
Phone and coffee balanced on my laptop, I step through the unlocked slider to the deck. My unkempt garden riots, arrowing plumes of scent across the dew damp lawn. I set my armload atop a stone-faced table and crank an umbrella skyward. Migraine aura pixelates my vision. It sprouts like weeds, its blind spot the seed from which its shoots unfurl, consuming all but my periphery. Unlike dragonflies, whose nearly 360° peripheral radius is like seeing past, present, and future simultaneously, I can see only by looking askance.
Memory, however, remains twenty-twenty. Feeling accomplished, Mandi’s post had bragged, below which photos of her and the job team celebrating the judge’s verdict, the multi-million-dollar judgment in their client’s favor. To her right, my husband grinned, shot glass raised amidst the others.
“Why didn’t you call me,” I asked when he finally arrived home. “Why wasn’t I invited?”
I should have been invited.
“I just forgot,” he said. “I don’t see the problem.”
The problem was their case’s complexity, an engineering nightmare and a judge lacking the requisite background in construction. The problem was, how to help the judge see patterns within their opposition’s misattribution of blame, to see the truth beneath the convoluted legalese. No one in my husband’s law firm knew how to tell that story.
No one except the junior partner’s wife. Me.
For weeks I’d poured over briefs and depositions, editing and rewriting the proposed findings and conclusions until as sharp and clear as a morality tale. A tale to which the judge yesterday wrote a happily ever ending.
Theirs, not mine. They hadn’t even thanked me.
Apparently, my husband never told them what I’d done. Apparently, he didn’t think I’d mind. “We’re a team,” he said. “What’s yours is mine.”
My boss said much the same. My boss did much the same, right before he let me go. Before he claimed my work as his. Intellectual property, my ass.
I hadn’t seen it coming.
A dragonfly lands on my cup’s rim as I bring it to my lips. I stop midway. Its mouth is a splotch of green, its body azure, sundered then assembled by my brain’s assaulted wiring. The medicine begins its work. Slowly. Incrementally.
Meanwhile, Anisoptera, the devil’s darning needle, fragments my form into ten thousand tiny shards cohering faster than my blink, faster than my breathing. I puff my cheeks and skitter it aloft to join its mates. Their wings, backlit by sun, weave a tapestry as old as time. I read its moral clear as ink.
Eventually, my boss had settled.
Eventually, my headache recedes. “I’m sorry,” my husband said as he poured our coffee. “What more do you want?”
“Just that,” I’ll tell him. “More.”
But first, I forward to his boss my itemized accounting.
Michele E. Reisinger’s fiction has been featured online and in print, most recently in editions of Stories That Need to be Told, Sunspot Literary Journal, and Dreamers Creative Writing. She studied English and Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University and received an MA in English Literature from the University of Delaware. She lives near Philadelphia and teaches senior and AP English at a New Jersey high school. Find her online at mereisinger.com.