French window in Saignon, Provence (c) Kristin Espinasse

Photo taken in the village of Saignon.



noun, feminine



The flapping sound seemed to be coming from the other side of the bedroom window. I got out of bed and unlatched the wooden volets, which allow the midnight breeze to cool the room.

The fluttering continued as I searched along the windowsill, down to the patio just below. Pauvre bête, a winged insect must have fallen on its back. Its world was now turned upside down! I imagined its helpless, feet-to-the-sky predicament. It would starve or be eaten by another critter of the night!

Tap! Tap! Tap! A noise sprung up from behind me. Startled, I spun around. 

My ears tuned in to a shuffling sound over by the table de nuit. Was my hearing playing tricks on me? Had the creature been there all along? 
What had been compassion turned into a creepy feeling (the creepy-crawly had been so close—right beside the mattress!). Returning to the bed, I calmly switched on the lamp. With my cheek flush against the wall, I peered back behind the table.

There it was! The horrifying life form! 

Writhing in anger, its worm-like body twisted as it struggled. Was it a mille-pattes? The name was terrifying enough! Imagine une bestiole with one thousand feet!

In one effective jerk I was standing on the bed.
"Sois calme," I told myself. Tu peux gérer!

I slowly pulled the nightstand away from the wall to study my abominable suite-mate. Examining the insect's wormy body, four iridescent "double wings" came into view....

Une libellule! I recognized the creature from our tableware. I have a set of plates depicting the popular winged insect that is glorified on everything from Provençal tablecloths to glassware! I dropped to the floor for a closer look, unafraid now of what I could identify.

"Ouf, it is only you!" I studied the dragonfly. My chills subsided. "Time to get back on your feet!" 

With the help of an odd scrap of paper, I guided the wayward creature, coaxing it gently along the wall to the window. I watched as the libellule teetered at the edge of the scrap paper precipice, the dark night gently calling it forth.

We paused at the window, one of us peering down at the patio. It seemed an awfully long drop-off for a recovering dragonfly....

A wobbly step or two and off it went, advancing into the night in an uneven fashion. It looked like an old man on crutches, zigzagging forth on the breeze of eternity. 


Your Edits Here. Thank you for pointing out any grammar or punctuation problems  in the comments box. Many thanks! 


 French Vocabulary 

le volet = shutter
la pauvre bête
 = poor thing
une table (f) de nuit = a nightstand
le mille-pattes = centipede, millepede
une bestiole = creature
sois calme = stay calm
tu peux gérer! = you can handle this!
une libellule = dragonfly
ouf! = phew!

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