I don’t usually publish fictional creative writing here, but this piece continues the recent moth theme, written for the New Networks for Nature magazine that will be coming out in November.
It sat on the windowsill, brushy legs splayed across the wood grain, camo-print wings crisp above its arched body. It was a moss-green sculpture, perfectly incongruous against the flaking white paint. Mimas tiliae, the lime hawk, a common creature uncommonly noticed in daylight, except by moth-lovers, those in the business of seeing the world from a lepidopterous perspective. I moved slowly, tapping the keyboard gently, I did not want to disturb my malachite companion.
But there was nothing for it in here, in this barren, bulb-lit space, no damp, dark corners to hide in, or nectar wells to visit. An open window would send it off through the bright sun, to the shadow of tree canopies, that I had not visited for far too long. But I could not look at the screen or unclasp the window, I wanted to trace every line and curve of its sleek form with my eyes.
The hawkmoth began to crawl through over the paintwork, up the steep sides of a teracotta pot and into the delicate fronds of the maidenhair fern, a plant as effite and sanitised as its surroundings. They bent under the moth’s weight. It began to flutter and struggle to the plant’s meagre canopy, its legs and wings tangled in the wiry horsehair stems.
That last time, when we went to the woods, insects and confetti-fleck petals had caught in our clothes, thorns and bracken stems snagged at our bare legs. We had pushed off the path, into the strange, heavy, summer heat, through unmanaged copses laden with spiders’ webs and deadwood, into deep meadows of cow parsley.
You took me to a place you knew, a smooth-worn beech log. It had a dipped middle to nestle in, its belly gently mouldering into the leaf mulch and soil. The sun shattered as it passed through the beech leaves onto the soft-littered floor. The canopy shivvered with small birds- the brazen rasps of great tits, soprano clamours of wrens, and long tailed tits traversing lightly between twigs, discussing us in high, faint whispers.
You caught me that day, as you sat us down and wrapped your arms around me. You looked deeply into my eyes and spoke the words I wanted to hear. When I looked a little too long, just to be sure, your eyes dropped. You gasped, reached down to the log’s underside and brought up an exquisite fluttering creature caged in your hands. You held it close, so my eyes could drink their fill as the moss-green wings desperately sought a way out.
My writing companion took flight and began a slippery aeriel scramble up the windowpane, mowing vain lines along the glass towards the sunlight. I let it flutter there, wincing at the paper-rasp of scalloped wing tips grazing the window frame, just as I had done with the insect trapped between your jointly arched fingers. Until you had tired of playing jailer and opened your hands to free it. It had not lasted between us either, a pheremonal frenzy burnt off by summer heat, a cruel release that left me little more than empty exoskeleton by the autumn.
I opened the window, the green day-ghost evaporated into the sun. I should have gone with it.
Copyright N.Lawrence, The Manticore