The Dragonfly’s Mark

Marks first experience with tragedy, came to him at fourteen years old; when he lost his

parents to a terrible car accident. Easily tempered since youth, his parents sent him away to a

boarding school, in the far end of Prescott, Arizona, to attain discipline. He blamed himself for

the sad ordeal, because, they were on their way to visit him at school the weekend they both lost

their lives. Never able to move past his loss, he retreated to his daydreams. By the time Mark

was sixteen, he was standing at an astounding six foot two; with amazing posture, and a strong

angular jawline. One would think he was quite the ladies’ man; he repelled those who found him

the least bit striking, with his deep, dark, menacing, hazel eyes. His anger flowed through them

like water, cascading down a river bank. Because of his wandering mind, he seldom had the

ability to hold face to face conversations with those outside of his job. Mark was very well read

and educated, graduating from A.S.U with a PHD in Aerospace Engineering. From there, he

relocated to Ward County, North Dakota, to work as a Missile and Space Systems Maintenance

Apprentice for the air force, at the age of twenty three. He dreamed about being able to build an

austere flight suit, to escape the world, and find a planet less populated by humans. He knew it

was improbable, but that thought never eroded his fantasies about the idea. In his mind, his

creation would be recognized by our world, but could never be duplicated by another: his

originality preceded all others.

During work hours, Mark did as he was told, followed instructions carefully, and was a

precise worker (anal). He was adamant about perfecting each and every plan set forth upon him

with precision. For that, his higher ranks respected him. He left little time for leisure, not to

mention personal relationships. The idea of a life to Mark was: work, eating three square meals

daily, keeping his toned physique, paying bills, keeping a roof above him, and, on rare occasions,

karaoke. In between all of the above, he lost himself in his fantasies. His repeated, melancholic

dream: included a small, secluded cottage, with a generous flourish of sweet smelling flowers,

like azaleas and tulips, and an assemblage of dragonflies, whipping though the air. He would

catch a glimpse of a woman inside, cooking a meal. But, he was never able to see her face

through the shutters from the outside; only her small slender frame, shoulder length hair, and the

shift of her flowy dress. He’d try to peer further, but as soon as he seemed too close, she would

disappear. His latent anger would boil to his outer surface, momentarily affecting his daily

routines; wondering who she could be, and why he was never able to connect with her. He would

swiftly gather his focus and thrust the anger deep down inside of him, where he usually buried all

of his emotions.

Marks’ compulsions with his dreams, and what they meant, led him to a very secluded,

lonely life. After twenty five years of working for the Air force, his retirement came and went

without celebration; no family, siblings, and definitely no children. He blamed his parents’

absence, or women being too needy, for his empty life. Marks’ lack of compassion for the

feelings of others is probably the reason he never had second dates. Soon after relocating to his

home town in Arizona, he felt different. He was mindful of his surroundings. He rented a small

home; that consisted of one bedroom, barely big enough to fit a dresser and bed at the same time,

a small eat in kitchen, with a console table and two stools, and a day room, furnished with a love

seat and a table lamp. His walls were naked and pale, like the bones of a calf, left bare after they

were feasted on by a coyote. It was depressing to look around but, he was unable to fill the walls

with pictures of loved ones; he had none. The only picture he did keep was of himself and his

parents at a park; his memory of it is non-existent. They all smiled, so he thought, “maybe we

were happy”. It was faded, and the faces that looked back were barely visible anymore, but, he

kept it anyway. Any heirloom from his childhood was disposed of long ago by the new owners

of the house he was born in. He could never bring himself to visit, after his parents were gone.

The money from the home was put into his college fund, done by the state; it also included living

expenses. Mark was fortunate his parents paid for the boarding school in advanced, so he never

experienced suffering, like the less fortuitous children in the world, whose parents didn’t plan

ahead. Money and security shaped Marks personality in ways he never realized. Although, he

was never a flashy dresser, and name brands never interested him, he did enjoy the comforts of

acquiring proper attire: neat, ironed slacks, button down shirts, and plain black leather shoes,

with tassels on the top. Having money opened many doors, mainly, for furthering his education.

His imagination was prominent and obvious to his fellow educators, who motivated his decision

of study within the sciences.

Mark decided he would have to eventually familiarize himself with his neighborhood; he

hadn’t been anywhere but to town for a few groceries and essentials for the house. He thought

the life of retirement would be great, after all of the hard work he’d done the past twenty five

years, but, he felt void and emptiness. He walked through town aimlessly exploring. It was late

in the morning, and the streets were mostly empty, accept for the few patrons going about their

daily routines [he imagined] of errand running. His eye caught a road at the far end of town, and

curiosity took hold of him. He journeyed his way through the brush and rubble as he attempted to

keep clean. After reaching what seemed to be the end of the road, his breath caught in his throat.

He stood shocked, and stared deeply at the cottage. It was just as he’d seen in his dreams. Never

believing it existed, he stepped closer. He reached to touch the window, but was stunned by the

sound of a gun cracking behind him. His hand lowered, but his body didn’t move a centimeter.

“What do you want?” yelled a squeaky small voice. “I, I”…. Mark stuttered. “I apologize”, he

finally said. “I was just exploring, I didn’t know anyone was here.” “This is private property, get

off of my land!” The small voice yelled again. As Mark turned, looking into the barrel of a

shotgun, he was stunned by who was threatening him. She was breath taking. She had almond

shaped eyes, the color of copper [almost], with hints of yellow around the outer surface. He had

never seen eyes of this color, [not that he’d taken notice of many eyes in his life before]. She was

thin, but not fragile, holding the gun to her shoulder as her non-threatening eyes peered at him. “I

am Mark, I’m new to town. I’m sorry I frightened you.” She looked puzzled, as if I had told her a

joke that wasn’t funny. Her eyes softened a bit, but she did not lower her gun. “Mark James?”

she said. “Yes” I said. That moment, she lowered her weapon and smiled. Her smile was

familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I tried to resist the urge to touch her face with both of my hands;

I hesitated and set my eyes to the ground instead. Something stirred in my stomach, perhaps

hunger. “How do you know me?” I asked. “We graduated from ASU together” she said. “I’m

Julie, I’m sure you don’t remember me.” Shock overtook me, as soon as I realized why I was

having those daydreams. But, I’d never been to her home. I barely spoke with her. She would

stare at me with what seemed like disgust. Why her? I don’t want to be here, but my feet fail me,

and keep me in place. She continues to ramble, but I try to think why would I think of this girl,

countless times, for years, why was she special? I apologized again, and told her I would leave,

but she stopped me before I could continue. “No, please come inside, I just put tea on, and I

baked gluten free muffins.” She said. She was insistent, and before I knew what I was doing, I

followed her through the threshold of her quaint, lived in, charming cottage.

“So what have you done with yourself all of these years?” she asked. I wasn’t sure where

to start. She made every hair on my body, stand up. I was nervous? I’m never nervous. I

collected myself, and breathed in deeply, let it out and began my “story”. After hearing all of my

accomplishments, I felt fatigued. Was my life really that boring? I never dispensed that much

information about my empty life before. Now, I feel dejected. I need to separate from her

immediately. “I have to get going, thank you for the tea, it was lovely”, I said. Did I just say

lovely?! Yes, I need to leave here, NOW. Julie extended her hand, and urged me to stay with her.

I’ve never felt a jolt like that; of her just placing her hand on mine. “Do you have someplace to

be?” she said. I had nothing, but shook my head as our eyes made a connection. “It’s a perfect

day for a walk, and perhaps a picnic?” Julie was insistent, again. I argued that I had my own

errands to tend to, so she invited herself along. Is she lonely? I wondered. Who’d want to waste

an entire day, with me? She was an incredibly buoyant person, and delicate to the touch,

someone who I should clearly stay away from. We conversed of many things [she spoke mostly]

throughout the day. “Have you ever been hiking? Julie asked me. Not in years, I replied grimly.

“Well, maybe we should make a day of it next weekend, unless you’re otherwise occupied?” she

said coyly. I don’t know, I began to say, but, before I was able to stop her, she contended I

wouldn’t regret it. So, I had a date, a date? I don’t date. I have never felt so out of control before,

it angered me, but I couldn’t bring myself to raise my voice or hurt her feelings.

Mark thought about Julie every day, for six days, counting down till their next “meeting”;

with such adoration, and a healthy combination of irritation. She was so pushy, and earthy, and

bubbly and annoying, but, also, beautiful and naturally funny [she made me laugh, I cringed] and

easy going, light-footed, and intelligent. How can anyone have the perfect combination of

intellect, and spunk? Well, I can now admit it, life has meaning, so it seems.

The Saturday of our first “date”, we planned to meet in town before our hike, in a small

café, perfectly across the town gallery. She expressed how fond she was of the aesthetic

creations in the window. So I thought, we could sit at the window, admiring the works of the

local people, while eating our breakfast. I didn’t understand what beauty could be found in the

loud colors used, and the lines perfectly set with no real direction in any of the paintings viewed

out of the gallery window. What could it mean? Hopefully she could explain it to me. “Where

could she be?” Mark thought, as he peered at his watch. Aggravated, that she was over an hour

late, he decided to walk to her cottage. During his walk, Mark worked himself into and angry,

distorted state, confused as to why; he didn’t want to go in the first place. When he reached the

cottage, something was amiss.

Lights were off, and the curtains were drawn. He suddenly felt a surge of fear, travel up

his spine; crippling all the anger he previously felt. He began rapping on the front door, hard

enough to take it off of its hinges; the door was locked. He tried to calm himself, inhaling and

exhaling as slow as his chest would allow. When there was no answer, he concluded to find any

way inside. A small window behind the house was cracked ever so slightly. There was a

dragonfly, resting on the ledge of the window, eerily still. He stared at it, feeling a sense of Déjà

vu. As he came closer to the window, it took flight, passed his face, almost hitting him. He jolted

back to avoid it, but the nuisance was immediately forgotten, and his concern fell on Julies well-

being once again; he began to climb up the side of the house, pried the small window open, and

toppled inside, landing on a soft fluffy rug. As his eyes came back into focus, he noticed a small

cozy sitting room, with a couch, large enough to occupy a small family, and a side table that a

single lamp and book rested on. The walls were covered in paintings, which seemed self-made.

He was impressed, but snapped back to the original notion of why he was “breaking” into Julies’

home. He began creeping through the narrow hallway, with one door on each wall. With each

step, he hesitated. “What if she is with someone?” The thought alone, hurt his heart and head

simultaneously. When he reached the door to his right, it was closed, with purpose, it seemed.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, he reached for the door knob, with a shaking hand; he turned

it and forced his way in. Before he could say anything, relief seized all the anger/fear he

previously felt. He regained composure, and straightened himself out, before fully entering her

bedroom. “Did you forget we had an appointment?” Julies shock was apparent; her eyes were

wide and her mouth in the shape of an O. “I was trying to pull myself out of bed, but I couldn’t

find the energy.” she said lightly. “How did you get in?” she asked. “Well” I started, with my

eyes staring to the ground, “I thought something happened to you, so, I may have found an open

window, and, I may have crawled into it, and, I may have landed on a very soft rug, to make sure

you were safe” I blushed at the confession, and looked up slightly. A smile spread over her face,

“you worried about me?” she asked through a smirk. “Well, you don’t seem like the type of

person to make plans, and decide last minute, you would not show up. Am I wrong?” Julie laid

her head on her large pillow, and requested I join her, with the reach of her hand. I had no words.

I froze at her suggestion, but, I wanted nothing more than to embrace her at that moment. I

hesitantly approached her, urging my feet to move faster, but they refused. When I reached her

hand and clenched it, ever so slightly, I felt her tiny bones under the thin layer of skin that

covered them. I wondered, had she’d eaten in the days we’ve spent apart. Before I could assume

not, she spoke. “I need to tell you something.” She declared. I waited patiently for her to

continue, but she stared into my eyes with urgency, for what seemed like minutes or even hours.

“Is everything ok?” I asked. “Yes, I just think we should reschedule our hike for another day,

when I have the energy. Maybe it was something I ate.” She said unknowingly. “I think that’s

fair, but, you should put something of substance in your stomach, perhaps lightly buttered toast?”

I suggested. She shook her head, and said “maybe, just some tea for now.” I agreed, but I will

insist again, after her tea. We stood together all afternoon conversing about things that seem

trivial to me, like global warming, and gardening; but she enjoyed it, so I attempted to embrace


I went home in the evening, but not before making sure she was locked inside safely. I

can’t explain why I feel the need to protect her; I’ve known her all of five minutes, but I want to

keep her safe every minute, of every day. As I lay my head down on my uncomfortable mattress,

in the lonely little coffin; some would call a home, I imagined how it would be, to fall asleep

next to Julie. My last thoughts before drifting off to sleep, was the intensity in her eyes when she

last spoke to me.

Every day, I would try to avoid seeing or speaking to Julie. I wanted some sense of

control again in my life. She stole my ability to think and be who I was. Mid-morning, I was

awoken with panic. My brain was foggy; it needed coffee. I tried to shake the sensation. I know

avoiding Julie was taking its toll on me, but I had to. I’m no good for a woman like her. She

deserves better than me. I picture her face staring out of the window, with a tender smile. The

angle of her face, complimented her prominent cheek bones and her long slender neck. Her eyes

full of joy, but a hint of mystery behind them. She is very open about herself; which I love. But

it’s also, the fact that I think she’s afraid of something. As if she can’t allow herself a moment of

silence; if she does she will explode like a canister put under pressure. She always keeps me

wondering and intrigued about what she’ll say next. Her stories always full of color and her

laugh so robust, you can hear it come from her stomach. I want her. I need her vibrancy, but how

could I subject her to my dull secluded ways? I pace back and forth, from my boxed house, for

what seems like an eternity, when a knock came to the front door.

“So are we in a fight?” Julie asked. “No of course not, why? I said, hesitantly. “Well, I

haven’t seen you in an eternity, and you’ve yet to answer my messages, so, I figured, I’d come

over and talk, perhaps over dinner?” Julie said. I was taken back; I was at a loss for words. I

suggested the diner in town, but she had other plans. “I’m going to cook for you” she said. But, I

don’t have much here, I replied. She pushed passed the door and walked to the kitchen area.

Before looking around, she noted how “whimsical” my living arrangements were. I happen to

disagree, but who am I to interject her opinion.

She found that I own one pan; I use to fry eggs in, and a small sauce pan; to boil things

in. My ice box was infertile, because I usually shop daily and seldom have left overs. She

suggested we go in town to “shop”. I didn’t want to shop, but I followed anyway. We bought an

array of pots and pans, silverware; that served eight, cups, mugs and dishware. I was puzzled at

how many things a single person, who scarcely had company, needed these items for. She said it

was all necessary, so I agreed. When we went to the grocery store, she chose a large quantity of

food; meats, chicken, vegetables, juices, fruits and coffee.

When we re-entered my barren rental, she made it somewhat feel like home. I felt at

peace, somehow; she rid me of my anxiety, almost entirely. She cooked an amazing meal, and

placed two dishes down. I helped her set the table, and she lit a candle. She spared no time to

discuss why I was avoiding her. I wanted to tell her why, but the words refused to leave my lips.

I knew at that moment, looking into her eyes, that if I told her how I felt, she might agree with

me. I couldn’t lose her, not now. I stuttered, and stumbled over words that were barely legible, so

she stopped me. “If you don’t want to be friends, I understand, I know I come on strong, but, I

really like you.” She said. Then she focused on the remainder of the meal.

Throughout the meal, we barely spoke, and I knew she was considering her words, as was

I. It was the next moment that I realized, I liked her too. Forming the words was as difficult as

lifting a two ton car, but I wanted her to know. I went on about my upbringing and shared with

her my darkest secrets. She stared at me with her large eyes, and I wondered if she wanted to run.

She didn’t, she sat there, and absorbed every word, seemingly bitter. I wondered if she could

love someone like me, and realized, no one could love someone like me. I’m an empty vessel, a

loner, who was vacant of giving and/or receiving love.

I left the table and hoped she would leave in my absence. I turned to leave the room as

she caught my hand. Her touch surged through my skin like a lightning bolt. I tensed, and felt

tears form in my eyes. She embraced me, to my shock, and placed her large soft lips on mine. I

held her tightly and consumed her mouth with mine.

She spent the night, and the night after, for a week. I was blissfully happy, but my energy

was spent. She decided she needed to go home, because she had no clothes. I suggested buying

her a new wardrobe; she laughed lightly and gently pushed my shoulder. Her playfulness,

allowed me to discover I was able to make her laugh without trying. I’m funny? What a concept.

I suggested joining her, but she rejected the idea, almost immediately. I was surprised how upset

it made me, but, I let her go.

The evening fell rather quickly and I felt uneasy. I hadn’t heard from Julie all day,

although she promised to phone me when she reached her house. The pacing started again, this

time faster than before. I needed to leave and go for a walk, yes a walk, to clear my head.

I wandered through town, hoping to mistakenly run into Julie. When the shops started to

close for the night, I decided to sit in the park further in town. I sat down on a patch of grass, and

realized how exhausted I felt. I lay back with the intention of staring at the stars, till my energy

regenerated. I slept quickly.

I was awoken by a loud buzzing; thrown into a state of panic, wondering if I was being

attacked by bees. My eyes refocused, and through the light of the moon, I saw a beautiful flock

of dragonflies, circling me in harmony. It was breathtaking. I stood up slowly so they wouldn’t

disperse, but they seemed drawn to my direction. I stretched my hand out, palm up, and one lay

gently on the tip of my finger; wings in frenzy but, gentle to the touch. I gasped by the beauty I

was surrounded with, which caused the sudden disbandment of the elegant insects, with wings.

That was the night I found Julie laying on her floor, motionless with a color of a full

moon. The doctors claimed that it was a heart defect she had been born with, that caused an

aneurism, leading her to an immediate, untimely death. The paramedics spoke quickly and tried

to intercede; I held her in my arms, in refusal to leave her side. They pried her from my hands,

clenched tightly around her fragile fame. I was in the ambulance with her, where they allowed

me to stay with her.

The walls were white and brightly lit. It was painful to keep my eyes open. There was

nothing that could be done for Julie; her body was cold. I walked for miles, trying to understand

the doctor’s words to me. He apologized constantly, but could not tell me much else. I was

floating in the world; empty and alone again.

I entered my house; through the darkness I could see the flashing red light on my

machine. I numbly touched the button; Julie’s voice blared through it. My breath caught; she

called me.

Julie expressed how much she enjoyed our week together and how much she hated being

away from me. She claimed that she would pack a bag for the next sleep over, or I could join her

at her home, which ever I felt comfortable with. I could almost hear her smile through the


I left with urgency, I needed to be where she was last alive, to feel her spirit. I needed her

warmth, her laugh, her touch. Despair came crashing down; knowing I will never feel her touch

again. It was all too much to believe.

I reached the enchanting cottage, I dreamed of prior to meeting Julie; it seemed changed

somehow. I walked through the unlocked door, and made my way to her bedroom. I sat on the

floor, with my knees to my chin, and lay my head to grieve her. I touched the place on the floor,

where I found her; wilted like a flower, in need of sunlight.

Each moment spent with her, came as a cataclysm; a painful reminder that she is gone, forever.

Her hands ever so gentle, her smile so serene and celestial, and the warmth that radiated off of

her skin; that purity only existed in her. I knew at that moment, she was the love I was meant to

have. As quickly as it came, it was taken away without respite.

The sound of light tapping on her window startled my trance. I walked slowly to see what

was so eager to come into Julie’s bedroom. To my surprise, it was a lone dragonfly, dancing

around my head. I felt peace fall upon me; Julie was sending me a sign.

I was lying on her bed, eager to see her again, drawing in my last few breaths; the dragonfly lay

lightly on my chest. I accepted, a love like ours’ was once in a lifetime, and rare to come by. My heart belongs to her for all of eternity, Mark said, so that’s where I’ll meet her.

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