Johan Christian Fabricius, a Danish natural historian and student of Carl von Linné who single-handedly dragged entomology out of the dark ages and set the discipline on the path to modern systematics, used the Greek word agrios to describe a group of insects that thrive not in the confines of domestic holdings but in meadows and marshland. The term no longer survives in taxonomical ranks, save as a suffix for widespread genera, but Agrion – those that live in the open fields, the savage and the wild, the untamed, uncultivated and unreclaimed – was the name he bestowed on the insects we commonly call damselflies: the sprites, wisps, coraltails and sylvans that dance on delicate wings and form in their coital union a heart of broken proportions.
She came as a wild thing, a sliver of grey and frightened growls who slipped under a door and hid under a weekend of furniture before worming her way into a household of older cats and still healing hearts. At first, she cowered in her carrier, which served as a temporary crib, and shrank before fatter housemates, who regarded her with disguised curiosity or the capricious impulses of feline spirits with an excess of kinetic energy in their veins. But she soon learnt that lazy Sundays began with a can of savoury goodness, that the comforter offered adventure under soft covers, that given an ounce of audacity, a cozy end of the bed was hers for the taking.
Muffin was never a heavyweight, but she grew to hold her own against cohorts of bad habit and bounce her skinny frame off couch and coffee table for first dibs at the breakfast bowl. Doors, cabinets and bags were fair game for sharp claws, essential supplements to a mauled scratching post, and verbal reprimands were met by indignant retorts, mischievous swipes and a look of innocence that never surrendered to gentle intimidation. A long, lithe tail doubled as a tool for diversion in lieu of a favourite string, and the fur on her underside was much more feathery than that of her back, but ruffling this unruly tangle was usually a risk except when she was lost in slumber on the quilt, her limbs stretched out and heaving belly exposed and inviting, lying wedged between a warm torso and the threads of a revolving chair, or nestled against naked arms on cold, grey afternoons when all that mattered was the stirrings of a curled figure of contentment in common repose. Now she rests forever from hours of play and never needs to endure the chidings due to a kitten with blackened pads who entered our lives for a few short months before slipping away with a broken heart and a body of restless dreams.