Daniel screamed when the beetle flew past him. Its yellow wings outstretched, antennae tasting the currents of the air, it swerved to avoid Daniel’s Mum and settled itself onto the lattice work that supported the station roof. Thankfully, there were no birds about for now.
It watched the scene below it with interest.
Daniel saw the train turn the corner ahead of the platform. He screamed and then again, louder, as it drew closer. His Mum, used to the noise so it no longer gave her headaches, smiled apologetically at the people standing around them. Some of them recognised her and returned her smile. She and Daniel came here every Sunday. The others looked away or moved as surreptitiously as they could further along the platform.
Daniel screamed again as the train wheezed to a halt and the doors opened, allowing the passengers to disembark. Confronted with the shrieking boy and his thin, wan-faced mother, many of the passengers frowned, whilst some tried hard to pretend they hadn’t heard or seen anything. One old man, a bottle in his hand and a bitter, alcoholic odour permeating his clothes, spat at Daniel’s feet and lurched away. The boy screamed once more – not at the man, but at the train that was moving off.
The beetle was puzzled by the humans’ reactions to the boy. It understood the sounds he made. It knew the glory of flight and the beauty of flowers. It too would have screamed with joy if it could.
The Joy of an Insect
Damian Mark Whittle