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Image by __ drz __

       We drink milkshakes in the café. His smile in chocolate froth and a sudden soft flutter in my chest: the pale, delicate micro-moths flitting. He takes my hand when the movie darkens and my chest is thrashed by a million dusty wings. The Noctuid moths - nut-brown True Lover’s Knot and ghostly Grey Dagger. The Merveille du Jour dances in my heart’s blush, green skirts swishing. We ride the late bus, hands entwined and smiles quickening. He pulls me close and the hot kiss wakes the huge Emperor and Hawkmoths slumbering in unchartered corners of my heart. They batter their glorious wings, eyes flashing, and I am filled with their beautiful turmoil.

       We stroll down rainy Parisian streets, a perfect cliché. A vintage pear diamond feels beautifully strange under my glove. Tiger beetles scurry through the chambers of my heart; their long, bristled legs tickle me breathless. He pulls me under a boulangerie’s awning, pushing wet hair off my face. His hazel eyes so certain and my chest explodes with the racket of onyx Scarabs - their chitinous bodies scamper and tumble in anticipation. The velvet night finds us in feverous connection; his hands hot on rain-chill skin and my pulse races. Jewelled Longhorn beetles take flight, their antennae probe and tantalise. The topaz heat of the Fairy-Ring, the amethyst rapture of the Musk; rises and falls in delicious swarms.


       We are in a cocoon of white silence, but for the insistent machinery that clicks and hums. Your face soft with narcotic serenity, your heart in a chrysalis of fragile armour. My own agitates with the urgent burrowing of Digger wasps, they bore through the tender muscle. The surgeon has a kind voice, but all I hear is buzzing. His grave eyes unleash a shiver of metallic Ruby-Tailed wasps; their stings are sharp, but with no venom to end my torment. I sit in an empty house as the night swaddles me in a cold facsimile of your embrace. When the phone rings, strident as the disturbed hornets feasting greedily on my arterial- nectar, it promises to drain me.


       I can smell the spring morning: crisp and fresh as green apples. The sun sews diamonds into the webs clinging to frosted panes. Our garden renews after a long winter – with bursting buds and the papery crackle of pupae warming. In the sooty shade of my heart, the gentle Orb-Weavers are rousing from their shelter. I feel only a feather touch as the spiders spin their spirals. Bind shattered pieces together with silken strength.

       He wraps his arms around me and I feel his beautiful heartbeat, repaired with surgical silk, against my cheek. He kisses my neck and the spiders retreat to ventricular shadows. His eyes, his smile, his love almost lost to me - my heart glows incandescent – and the moths are drawn anew.

JP Relph is a working-class Cumbrian who grew up just across the border in Scotland. Her writing journey began in 2021 and is mostly hindered by four cats and aided by copious tea. A forensic science degree, passion for microbes, bugs and botany, and a dogged determination to make people laugh, motivate her words. JP has words in The Fantastic Other, Sledgehammer, Splonk, Noctivagant Press, Full House Literary and others.
Twitter - @RelphJp

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