The butterfly net

The Pink-wing flitted over Siobhan’s shoulder, alighting on a lomandra leaf. With its bright wings closed it looked like the fallen petals of a flower.

Siobhan raised her net. She’d never have expected one here. It would be the star of her collection.

‘Don’t move.’ The command from behind her was as insistent as it was soft.

She jumped, having thought herself alone. A boy with an expensive camera came out of the scrub.

‘But I——‘

‘Shhhh.’ He trod lightly across to her, swinging his camera onto her shoulder. ‘Stay perfectly still.’ He focused and shot. Once, twice, three times.

‘Beautiful,’ she whispered.

‘Shhhh.’ He kneeled behind her, his camera still on her shoulder, his concentration only for the insect.

She wanted to turn, to see him. But she stayed motionless.

Slowly the Pink-wing opened its gorgeous wings wide. He took one shot before it took off. The boy took the camera from her shoulder to follow the insect’s flight. As he stepped away it flew to where Siobhan was crouched, landing on the shoulder he’d vacated.

‘I’m Al,’ he whispered as he snapped. The butterfly opened its wings again. Perched next to her ear it had the effect of a Gauguin hibiscus. She sat perfectly still while Al snapped, waiting for it to move.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (


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