Sorry guys…I’m back chasing People’s Choice votes again.
This time I entered a story over at The Dark Globe.
It is an edited version of an earlier story I posted in my fiction pages.
Less wordy and I hope better than the original: The Dragonflies Loop.
I am interested to hear your opinion !!!
You can vote for up to three stories.
Just make sure one of them is Submission #35 !!!!!!
You do need to have a website in order to vote.
And here is my entry.
(C) Jo Bryant
Ariki hovers over the mirrored water, obscured behind a battered Matai branch felled in a furious summer storm. Silver ferns, heavily curved with raindrops, dangle their leaves breaking the water’s surface. They vie with each other for space along its edges. Spider webs shimmer in the mottled sunlight. Spreading his wings wide; he circles over the damp domain silently disturbing the surrounding air. Searching the area for male interlopers, he checks for mosquitoes as well.
Smiling at the vista below he rises higher, wanting the certainty he has enough distance. With the sun losing height in the sky he knows that soon he will be able to hunt; for now, he has time to have some fun. Satisfied with his starting position he descends, rapidly building his speed till he reaches fifty kilometres per hour. Positioning his wings he begins to loop-the-loop. Three times he performs the manoeuvre, each loop tighter than the one before. As he manoeuvres out of the third loop his mouth curls with pleasure. Ariki positions his wings for a synchronised movement, them plummets, doubling his speed before he reaches the mirrored face of the pond.
Before he hits the water he pulls out of the dive and soars horizontally. His 360 aids his visual sweeping of the area. A familiar form, partially hidden in the sword-like leaves of a harakeke plant looks unswervingly toward him with large slate eyes. Marama’s gaze sends a tremor undulating through his body. Relax, take a deep breath, he tells himself. Nonchalance okay. His antennae however, ripple slightly with excitement.
“Hello,” he says manoeuvring to land in front of her.
“Hello,” she replies. Her voice tinkles like water descending over smooth river stones he thinks. Mesmerised by its sound he stays silent.
“Ariki?” Marama smiles joyfully and his legs feel like tadpole blubber. Lowering her antennae she mischievously swats him on the head. “Anybody in there?”
“Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I was a little distracted.” He watches her smile widen. Nice comeback dunce head, he thinks.
“Distracted Ariki?” she teases. “What has you…so distracted?”
“I was, umm, wondering.”
“Anything I could help you with?” Marama is enjoying his discomfort. She can’t resist stretching out her wings so that they glisten red-gold from the setting sun. Changing the subject she remarks on his flight. “That was an especially fine loop-the-loop you just did.”
“Do you think you could coach me a little? I’m afraid I’m not getting it right. My loops are rather sloppy.”
“I’d love to help,” he’s unable to take his eyes away from her wings as they flash in the light. “You’re not as bad as you think. You have a lovely exit, I mean…” Ariki realises he’s admitting he’s been watching her. “You’re probably not getting up enough speed before you start.”
“Do you think that we could start now?” she asks, graciously ignoring his admission.
Marama stretches her wings, giving them a shake.
“C’mon then. I’ll race you to the other side,” she calls out. Her laughter rolls back on the breeze as Ariki realises she’s managed a head start.
“Cheat,” he shouts, flexing his wings he flies after her. She really is glorious he thinks as he watches her soar effortlessly. Reaching the other side Marama hovers above the flax lining the bank.
“Ha, I beat you.” Her smile softens the words. “But now I’ll let you show off a little while you teach me.”
“Sounds fair,” he replies. “Watch what I do. Then we’ll try it together.” Ariki ascends, signalling for her to follow; he stays close so she can see his movements. Building speed they race skyward. “Here goes,” he yells as he turns and drops. Trailing closely Marama is overwhelmed by the splendour of his movements. God, he’s stunning, she thinks as he goes into another loop. Finishing, he turns and waits for her to join him.
“Oh Ariki, that was more beautiful than before. I could hover here and watch you do that forever.”
“It’s nothing really,” he stammers. “We’ll have you doing it better than me in no time.” Secretly he is pleased. “Want to try? I’ll watch and then we’ll know what you need to work on. I think if you can go faster, before you start, you’ll be much better.”
Together they rise and fall perfectly synchronised. Beams of brilliant gold sunlight add drama to their dance.
“Marama,” Ariki pulls back and hisses at her. “Wasps. By the tree. Fly. Now!” He pushes her with his body. “Go,” he whispers, searching for somewhere to hide in the leaves of a manuka tree. “Higher, we need to get higher.” Keeping an eye on the activity below, they watch as the wasps search in vain between the red flax flowers.
“Ariki, what are they doing? Can you still see them?” Marama slows until he is beside her.
“Keep going,” he turns to look behind. “I can’t see them, but it doesn’t mean they’re not around.” He uses all his thirty thousand lenses to try and track any trace of the wasps’ path. “Keep going.” He hovers while urging Marama on. “Go higher. I don’t want them to see us if they are still around.” With a turn of her wings she soars away. Remaining behind he scans the area below. Satisfied that the wasps have not followed, he follows her path into the security of the manuka branches.
“I don’t think they saw us,” he says drawing level. Surveying the sinking sun he adds, “Don’t worry, they will be heading home soon.”
“Damn filthy bugs,” she shudders. “I hate them.”
“At least we are faster,” Ariki moves closer to her, “and smarter. Some of us are prettier as well,” he said waggling his antennae at her. Marama’s laugh jingles softly as she nods her head in answer to an unspoken question. Encouraged, he strokes her body with his wing.
Together they wait for the sun to set before leaving the security of the manuka. Adjusting his wings Ariki flies in reverse until he is behind her and waits for her reaction. When she slows her flight, he moves to join himself to her. Hovering, their bodies twisting, they form a perfect circle. He grasps the top of Marama’s head as she reaches around with her abdomen to allow him access to her.
“Is this what you were wondering about,” she quietly murmurs. Ariki’s body responds immediately and together they spin around; a shimmering ferris-wheel freewheeling through the softening dusk air, their wings flickering in the reflected light off the water. They slowly rotate until they are within millimetres of the pond’s surface, still joined to him Marama searches for a suitable place to lay her eggs. She seeks out an area by the side of the pond where vegetation is thick. Together they hover just above the surface as Marama expels her now fertilised eggs into a space between the plant’s green foliage.
“I think they will be safer here,” she whispers. Ariki nods in agreement. Once Marama has laid all of her eggs, he slowly withdraws and glides up beside her.
Without looking back they both speed off, leaving the pond’s next generation waiting to hatch.
Thank you for all your support.
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