This short short story features in ‘Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand’, published by Canterbury University Press with the support of Creative New Zealand.
The dragonfly’s eyes are made up of multiple hexagons. Inside each hexagon is a
black and white picture of my face. I’ve printed the photos from my files and glued
them on, one by one. There must be at least a hundred. They’re very small. You don’t
know they’re faces until you look closely, then suddenly you see them, a million
disembodied eyes staring at you in the dark.
Dragonflies are capable in darkness. I saw one in the hallway mirror after what I’d
done. It involved a gun. No, it didn’t. I like that gun rhymes with done. A knife. I
took a knife outside and sliced all the leaves off Mum’s blood red begonias. You
said that I should tell the truth. I am telling the truth, Alice. The begonias were
the first thing I remember getting in trouble for. They’re represented by one of my
faces. My skill is this: to see everything from every direction simultaneously. I didn’t
want to take the Zyprexa. Though, at the time, I remembered thinking I don’t have
eight pairs of visual neurons like the dragonfly, yet I am capable of collating multiple
parts into a whole, I will not be affected. I said I would take it. I think it’s fair to
say, Alice, that my stabbing of Mr Gotthard’s cheek in front of three hundred and
twenty-three spectators only deserves a small part of the picture.
Blunt craft scissors sharpen effectively on a raspy concrete floor. The dragonfly is
very skilled. It tracks its prey, calculates its flight path and moves into it before you
can blink. It must be a shock for the prey to see its own face reflected multiple times
in the dragonfly’s eye, don’t you think?