The Confusion of the Dragonfly – a short story.

The Confusion of the Dragonfly


The Dragonfly crested the hill. The day was young but the sun was already warm on his face. He looked over the sloping land towards the cliffs and the sea beyond, and then back to his camp in the woods where he and his friends had pitched down for the night. He could see his lady putting wood on the fire. Arthur was strumming a guitar after bringing in the water and Liz was singing. Dylan and Judy were off hunting rabbit. The Dragonfly breathed in a big lungful of life. He was off to fish, to catch their lunch.

They’d called him the Dragonfly because of his speed of thought and the way he flitted from one thing to another. In the midst of confusion, the maelstrom all around him, he alone had seen the patterns and called the shots. While others had suffered the calamity of failure, his stock had soared – like that dragonfly on the rising thermals.

The elation had been immense. The adrenaline pumped and filled him with a euphoria that could not be equalled.

He was the mighty Dragonfly. He was the best. He deserved it all.

His skill and instincts had brought him great rewards – riches, cars, houses, women and a lifestyle of total excess. He was without limits. He did it all. Cocaine and hookers, champagne and caviar, flunkies, friends, parties and mayhem – he could do anything. No law could touch him while he had the money to sweeten the right people. He was his own law.

It seemed it would go on for ever – or at least until those instincts began to let him down – and despite the madness of his life they showed no signs of that. In front of his computer he was in a bubble, in the zone and right on the ball. His brain became the computer. He was at one with the numbers. He had the knack. The numbers were numbers. He could play them. He noticed the shifts before anyone else. He rolled the dice and they always came up with sixes. He gambled with the numbers without a care, effortlessly, and the numbers paid him back handsomely.

Until one day. It was as if he had an appointment with reality. It had been lurking there waiting for him to arrive. Possibly he had always known it. The implication had always been there. But the realisation finally hit him.

These weren’t numbers.

The shock went through him like he’d walked into a glass door.

They weren’t numbers at all.

They were people.

When he bought or sold it was real lives that he was affecting. Outside that bubble of his, there were real people working hard to scratch a living. When he dumped the coffee beans he wasn’t just playing a game, anticipating a trend, skimming millions off the profit, it was real. And the repercussions were real.

Out there in some far off country there were families working in the plantations, putting in the hours in the factories, bringing up their children and depending on the pittances they brought in. It was life and death to them.

The Dragonfly froze as if his wings had stopped whirring, as if time had frozen. His bubble had burst. They weren’t just numbers he was gambling with. They were people

It made no sense – all those millions of people grafting away while he sat here and played with the numbers, gambling with their lives. They took home next to nothing while he creamed off the profits.

The Dragonfly laughed. No. He was being daft. He wasn’t responsible for them. It was the big boys who ran the businesses who were exploiting them. They were the ones making the huge profits. They were the ones he was playing. It was their profits he was playing with. Nothing he did was going to affect the lives of all those millions.

Besides – he was the best – he deserved it all. Didn’t he?

He set about his job – but no matter how hard he tried the bubble had gone. When he looked at the numbers he only saw people, families and children. He couldn’t see the patterns.

That evening he sat in his luxury penthouse all on his own. He looked around him at everything he had bought. He thought about the life he was living.

It suddenly felt empty. It did not seem real, but more importantly it no longer felt fulfilling. He felt divorced from reality, separated from nature, trapped in pointlessness. It felt so futile.

It was in that moment that the Dragonfly became free. His spirit was that of a wanderer. No dragonfly was meant to be restricted. All the money in the world could not buy true freedom for true freedom was not what you owned, what you bought, who you bribed or what excesses you could enjoy. It was more than that. It was about being connected to the reality of nature, its flow, its beauty and its wonder.

The Dragonfly strolled off towards the beach singing quietly to himself, and smiling inside.


Opher 16.1.2019

I was just playing about with this. I had to produce something for my writing group based on eight words we had been given. This is what came out.

After having spent a long time thinking about life I have come to the conclusion that true happiness, fulfilment, comes from being connected to nature. That is all.

Under the stars, under the sky, in the greenery, living a natural life. Who could ask for more.

I can’t help thinking that our quest for comfort and convenience has led us astray. We’re now lost on a mad consumer binge and drunken orgy. Back to reality. Give me the simple life.

9 thoughts on “The Confusion of the Dragonfly – a short story.

  1. Namaste Opher 🙂

    An interesting way of writing…an ab-lib of sorts…is this a writing group you run or just participate in?

    Perhaps ‘parasite’ might have been a better name for the protagonist?

    You write, ‘Give me the simple life.’ – how might you define this exactly? Just curious 🙂

    Namaste 🙂


    1. Hi Dewin. This is a writing group that I participate in for fun. It is good to write stuff in response to someone else’s agenda. I quite enjoy it. This week we were set 8 words to incorporate into a short story. Dragonfly was one of them.
      This is just what came out of my head.
      For me a simple life is one that is closer to nature – a more natural life. It’s a bit of an idyll. I think we’ve given up our close relationship with nature for the sake of comfort and greed. We’re like kids in an ice-cream factory. We know too much isn’t good for us but we can’t help indulging. Consumerism and comfort is like that. We are addicted even if it is costing the planet. I’d go back to a simpler life.

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