The butterfly part two


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La vida va renéixer – life reborn

The world was disparate from above—a rainbow of sundry buildings, a striking expanse of gorgeously neglected fields and yards. He was rendered breathless, attempting to take it all in with his meager form, but it didn’t stop him from trying to soak in every second of it that he could—didn’t stop him from trying to embrace the tangibility of every moment. 

The butterfly was no longer purposeless; he had triumphed over that deplorable state and was now a creature who sycophantically followed the calling that arrived with the sun every morning. His only complaint was that his purpose was beginning to seem a bit bland now. 

Of course, at first, there were no faults to distinguish among the perfection of his new existence; seeing the world for the first time through these nearly omniscient eyes was not something he ever suspected he would tire of. But, as is the nature of being alive, he found it rather mundane after a few days. 

The ritual rarely differed; it was a simple combination of time spent soaring over the world like an all-powerful god and time spent at Athena’s windowsill. Because that could never change. He was too closely linked to her; she would have been impossible to shake if he had any desire to—which he didn’t. Not when he was compelled to be in her presence every day without fail. 

While he couldn’t spare the same portion of time to spend with her as before his transformation, he was beginning to realize that he wasn’t him without her presence in the background to ground him. 

Returning to the windowsill was like returning home. The splintered and fading wood intermittently plastered with chipped black paint. The streaky glass wiped clean in disorderly circles with a drugstore wipe. And the room beyond—light green walls, faded and dark teak wood flooring, and two pieces of furniture: an old dresser painted with a cracking gray hue, accentuated by a collection of miscellaneous objects that matched the atmosphere of an antique shop, and a mattress perched on top of a tearing boxspring, recently pushed just underneath the window. A vast assortment of quilts and blankets and pillows had congregated on top of the mattress, and it was wrapped in those that he often found her. 

As he woke with the cool sunlight and the misty dew, he found his way to the sill, assimilating himself with the quite dissimilar atmosphere—his flaming wings stood in stark contrast to the picture, and yet, he couldn’t have been more in place than he was there. 

Athena’s presence in that mound of blankets was becoming less frequent, but she was always beyond content to be wrapped in them when she talked to him. 

“Oh, hello.” She leaned forward, bringing her exhilarated hazel eyes close to him so that he could see every detail of her enlivened features. Today, her splashing freckles were laying over top of flushed cheeks, and her frizzy dirty blonde curls were pulled haphazardly into a ponytail.

“I just went on a run.” Her eyes illuminated as she emphasized the final word. “I haven’t run in weeks. It felt amazing—just beyond perfect, absolutely flawless. And it’s so nice outside, so warm. I didn’t ever want to come in. But I’m visiting the high school today. Aunt Jessie said all she wants me to do is visit. She said I don’t have to do anything else. I’m not sure if I’m even considering going, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad as it did a few weeks ago.” 

She flopped back onto the pile of blankets and stared at the popcorn ceiling, contemplating. 

“The world is really beautiful outside of here,” she murmured. “I haven’t seen it like this in—” She exhaled heavily. “—in a long time. I don’t know if it’s because it just really was darker these past few weeks. It really seemed so. But maybe it’s just because I couldn’t see it. I guess it just doesn’t matter now. It’s gorgeous now.”

With a start, she sat up and crawled over to the windowsill, resting her head on her folded arms. 

“How does it look from above? I’m sure it’s just stunning beyond compare. I’ve never flown before; I don’t actually know if I want to. But I’m sure it would be beautiful. I wish sometimes that I was a bird, but then I guess maybe I wouldn’t be so appreciative of how beautiful the world is because I would always be seeing it from above. I wish I was a butterfly then. Like you, because you spent so long seeing the world so ordinarily, so now you can appreciate the perspective. Or at least I assume you can. I don’t even know if you understand me at all. Maybe you have no concept of time or space or beauty. But I think you do. I don’t know why, I just think you do. And I think you’re perfect for it. You’re just right to appreciate how beautiful this planet is.”

She pulled back now, sitting cross-legged. As she talked, she undid the sloppy ponytail and began to braid her hair. 

“I talk about myself so much. Do you ever get sick of it? I guess maybe you don’t, ’cause you’re still here.” She laughed now, eyes sparkling. “I found a book about monarch butterflies at the library a few days ago—Aunt Jessie practically begged me to go with her—and I was reading that certain generations travel across the country, you know, when it gets cold. I guess that’s probably not you, seeing as it’s summer, and I don’t think you guys live very long. Oh, my God, I should really shut up. I really hope you can’t understand me, because if you can, you’re probably offended. I’m sorry. I’m god-awful at this. But the point is, sometimes you guys get to see so much of the world, and sometimes you don’t. And somehow, you know if it’s you who’s going to migrate across the world. And if it’s not you, maybe you’re sad, or maybe you just know that it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know how you feel about all of this, but I wish I knew. I wish I knew where I was going, and if I was meant to be the one that migrates and travels and sees it all. Or maybe I’m just meant to be content here. Either way, I really hope you’re happy. And I hope you don’t think I’m going crazy.”

“Athena!” The voice echoed across the house, and Athena dropped the thick braid from her hands, letting it unravel. She didn’t say goodbye. That seemed like going too far; she didn’t need to become any crazier than she already was. But she offered a sheepish smile and a mental wish that he would come back to that windowsill. 

Of course he would. That strand of her essence that had become a part of him constantly dragged him back to that visually desolate windowsill. And then when she would leave, he would embark on his daily adventure—his daily mission to see anything within proximity to him that he hadn’t yet seen, which at this point, was not much at all. 

The scape of the town and its surrounding neighborhoods was stunningly exquisite, but it didn’t fail to remind of what he felt he had lost. But how could he lose something he never had? He knew the migration was not meant for him; it never had been. But those stories and the mere notion of its existence haunted him. He couldn’t say he was sad that the migration wasn’t in his future; he was simply sad that his purpose wasn’t something more. And perhaps frustrated that he couldn’t quite identify that purpose. 

He was okay that the world beyond this town just wasn’t for his taking—this world was, after all. But it almost felt like not enough. It was a shadow of what he could have had. It was a shadow of the stories that had circulated through his head every moment of every day. 

He alighted on Athena’s windowsill as the sun was setting that night. It streaked across the sky with alluring vividity, and he basked in its glow as he peered into her room. He didn’t normally come back in the evening, but he felt like she was calling him back tonight. Somehow, despite the fact that she wasn’t even in there. 

But the window was still open; she’d forgotten to shut it before she left. So he fluttered into the room and rested gently on top of the covers. 

It was only a moment or so before Athena entered into the room, stopping short at the sight of the butterfly on her bed covers. 

“You’re inside,” she said in awe. “And you’re here right now. I didn’t think you’d be back until tomorrow at least. And I just needed someone to talk to; I think I might combust. So it’s amazing that you’re here.”

She gently pulled herself into a cross-legged position on the bed, staring down at the bright pop of orange on her heavy, white quilt. 

“I talked to this teacher at the high school. About my mother. And I thought I couldn’t do it. But I did. I talked to her, and she told me all these things, and the thing is, I was so worried that coming here, to this town—where she lived— would be so beyond difficult. I thought it would make it impossible for me to ever move on. But now—now, I’m realizing that I don’t want to move on. I don’t want to completely let go of this sadness. I don’t want to let it overtake me completely, but if I just let go of it, I think I’ll just be numb. I need this to make me, me. And somehow, it feels right, now. I haven’t told Aunt Jessie or Uncle Frank yet, because I think they’ll make way too big of a deal of it, but I’m going to stay. And I’m going to go to the high school. It’s where she went, and even though she didn’t have me going there, I think it’s what she’d want now.”

Tears were beginning to form in her eyes—sparkling, crystalline tears. But sparkling with happiness. And not crystalline in the way that shattered with the slightest brush of a finger. They were strong, crystalline-like diamonds. They were borne of pain and grief, but beautiful, glittering, shining like the summer stars that were blinking into existence over the girl and the butterfly who were grasping to the frayed edges of the existence that they’d been fighting for. 

To be continued . . .