THE LAST FAIRY
Story and artwork by Mark Beckemeyer
I was much younger when I started my butterfly collection. Back before I decided that photographing them was a better way to enjoy their beauty at my leisure. I often headed out early in the morning while the butterflies were still moving about slowly from the cool night air. They were much easier to catch that way, one of the tricks of the trade whether netting, or shooting them with a camera.
All the proper equipment was in my possession, the net, drying boards, thin flexible pins, clean white strips of paper to hold their wings down in the proper position while drying, and the killing jar. I used large glass gallon jars for mine, and filled the bottoms with plaster of Paris. When the plaster hardened it was porous and would readily soak up the quick acting poison. It had to be quick so the butterflies wouldn’t tear up their wings in the throes of death. Pop had taught me well. An interest in insects is something we always had in common.
My collection was a nice one. Butterflies large and small, brightly colored and drab, a good variety. I kept their bodies in 20″ x 16″ black boxes with shiny brass hinges and bleached white foam beds on which to mount my trophies. They stood out like a colorful scarf dropped on a pristine blanket of snow. I was proud of my work, but I was always looking for something new and different and this was a good day for a hunt, so I grabbed my gear and headed out in search of Lepidoptera.
It was a perfect dawn for collecting, the air was crisp and my quarry was still stiff and not quick to evade capture. The warming sun was sending wisps of water vapor rising from the grass that lazily swirled into the air, and as I walked into the heart of the meadow drops of dew fell at my feet like tiny jewels.
Time moved quickly and before long my jars were near their capacities. Deciding that my catches had been good enough I packed my gear into the shoulder bag and started making my way back through the ocean of wildflowers…, and that’s when it happened. Something so unbelievable, so insanely crazy, that I thought I had lost my mind. I fell to my knees numb and dizzy with disbelief, staring me straight in the face., was a fairy.
“It’s a hallucination” I thought.
Then she spoke. In a tiny, barely audible voice. Almost a buzz.
“Hello” she said.
And then it all began.
She was dancing around a flower playing with a butterfly
Against clouds of fluffy cotton floating in a bright blue sky
She said that she was lonely for she was the last of her kind
And asked that I spend some time with her, if I didn’t mind
We talked and touched for hours while she sat upon my finger
And when she flapped her wings the smell of Lavender would linger
She said she felt comfortable with me and flew to my ear to say
Would you come with me to my magic place and in the forest lay
I said that would be lovely and rose up knocking my bag over
And a giant glass jar full of butterfly bodies rolled onto the clover
You’re a monster and you can’t be with me I heard her tiny voice say
And she fluttered and she sputtered as she tried in vain to fly away
I couldn’t let her go, and the magical little beauty didn’t get far
Because I snagged her in my fine mesh net and put her in the killing jar
I flew into a violent rage and she was dead because of my transgression
And to further my insanity I dried her and pinned her in my collection
Then I awoke in my bed with a terrible start, had it all been a bad dream
Yes I thought, the horrible events were a frightening nightmare it would seem
I lit a smoke, and rubbed my eyes, and fumbled for my socks
I froze with fear when I saw it sitting on the nightstand, a casket-like black box
It can’t really have happened, surely not in that box is hid
The body of the worlds last fairy, evidence of the evil I did
Slowly and shakily, with fear and self loathing in my heart, I lifted up the lid.
The Last Fairy.