I’ve always loved the beetles in my garden. They scuttle within their own universe between the lawn and the flowerbed borders with their gleaming black wing-cases and tiny thread legs, moving too rapidly for me to get a fix on. I followed a beetle last Sunday as he ran up the wall, and a filmy wingtip protruded from his back where he was constantly about to spread both wings.
I pounced at the wall, not to catch him but only to watch, and locked eyes with my next-door neighbour: wary, lined face; floppy apron a little askew; grey bun with wisps of hair escaping around her ears.
“It’s all right, I’m only looking at that beetle,” I said.
She digested this information, her expression gradually changing to one of resignation.
“Do you often watch insects?”
“Oh, yes, when I’m out here. I love them.” I realized I must sound like some kind of nutty biologist.
“All I want is to get rid of mine,” she said. “As soon as I see one I spray the insect killer.”
This was clearly what she had been doing, for as my shiny beetle crossed over the top of the wall and ran down her side of the wall he fell off it, dead. I said no more and returned to my comfortable garden chair.
That night I dreamed a beetle ate her.