3 October "Life is a Mystery"Archives

The Girl Who was a Butterfly

Butterflies are not supposed to talk. Yes, I know that. But I am not an ordinary butterfly.

My parents were hippies led by the idea that we could change this world and make it a better place. They believed in peace, love, and freedom. And they lived the life they wanted. No constraints, no social injustice, no racism, no hatred, no criminal, no violence, no corruption. Those were some of their ideals.

I was born one cold February day in the small apartment which my parents inherited from my mother’s grandma. It was a natural home birth, as my mother used to say. There was a labor nurse, a woman called Sonya, who helped my mother bring me into this world. But other than that, my mother did all by herself and she was proud of it. She used to say that I had appeared in the wondrous process that resembled the one of a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly.

Sonya became my godmother and our friend. And she named me Mariposa which means “butterfly” in Spanish. I was the only Mariposa in our town, and I was proud of it. I carried my name gracefully like a butterfly. When I was very little, my parents even made me butterfly wings that I wore on my back while dancing happily.

My parents taught me to respect and appreciate everything I had and got and to be grateful for food, clothes, toys and other things they provided me with. And I did. I folded neatly my clothes and kept all clean clothing pieces in my small wooden closet. There were many old and faded jeans, T-shirts, and skirts, but they were always so beautifully arranged and they smelled so nice that no one would notice their shabbiness even when I wore them. They were clean and I wore them elegantly.

If there were some holes in those clothing pieces, my mum’s magic hands made them disappear. Moth holes in my wool sweaters were so sad, but my mother patched those holes with embroidered butterflies and my sweaters looked jolly again. She used some beautiful embroidery patterns to mend the patches and torn parts and no one ever guessed that those butterflies, frogs, rabbits, flowers on my jeans, sweaters, skirts, T-shirts, and dresses were a necessity. Somehow, they seemed natural and original parts of my clothes.

However, there was a war that our country led against some other far-away country that we didn’t know much about. My parents and many other their friends protested against this war, against killing people, against sending our countrymen to kill other people. My parents took part in every protest, every demonstration against these killings.

They marched, held the signs against the war, yelled and sang. And many many other people did the same. During those protests, I stayed at home with Sonya and, sometimes, her daughter who was a baby at that time. The three of us played and watched TV and didn’t go out during those dangerous hours that brought turmoil, a lot of policemen all around the town and some suspense in the air.

I didn’t know much about anything that happened in the world, and I couldn’t understand. But I knew my parents protested for a good cause. In my innocence and incapability to understand the grown-up issues, I pretended I was a butterfly, a blue morpho. I put my wings on my back and I danced around the room.

The sparkling blue and dark wings carried me over the hills, meadows, and forests into the unknown and exotic places, where people swam in the rivers and lived with the wild animals. I watched them and smiled. A couple of times, I flew over their heads and if I noticed that they were friendly and liked butterflies, I landed on their shoulders and arms and made them smile.

Children loved me particularly. They ran after me and smiled. And they spread their arms pretending they were butterflies as well. I wanted to tell them that they could be if they really wanted to.

I was the blue morpho, one of the most beautiful butterflies in the world. The colors of my wings allowed me to make camouflage and I hid from predators; and sometimes, if I noticed the big lizards and birds coming toward me, I released the strong smell that chased them away. But I loved people. They were almost always happy to see me. Almost always.

Once, I spread my wings and flew over the unknown exotic, tropical and warm forests. The humidity made my wings heavy and I descended among the shrubs. I waited there and dried my wings in the sun. Then, I heard some strange noise, as if some explosions had been approaching me. But I didn’t know what those explosions were about.

Then, I saw people running, among them scared children. Their faces were petrified, they were scared and panicking, and they ran away in front of people with big guns and rifles. Those people who carried the heavy weapons were angry. They were shouting madly, screaming some non-comprehendible words and shooting the people who ran away. I saw children falling down on the ground, as well as their parents.

They fell and never stood up again. The blood covered the leaves and soil and the noise exploded through the forest. I was afraid.

The people with guns kept coming and shooting and some of them came too close to me. Out of blue, some strange thing started flying toward me. It was not an animal, it was not a living thing, but it could fly faster and more ferociously than anything I had ever seen flying.

And all of a sudden, it hit me. My wings went all in pieces through the shrubs, the sparkling blue and black filled the air, and I looked at my own body exploding in the most magnificent colors. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew that I, the butterfly, the blue morpho, was dying. And then I just stopped breathing.

And my butterfly body disappeared in the void.

When I opened my eyes, I saw that I was lying in my bed. My butterfly wings were broken and Sonya was sitting next to my bed. Her eyes were full of tears and she held the wet handkerchief in her hands and wept slowly. Her sobbing voice hurt my heart.

“What happened, Sonya?” I asked with a feeble voice.

“You fell down the stairs, my dear child, when you heard the bad news.” She said cautiously. And she turned her eyes to the other side as if fearing to face my eyes. I wanted my brain to work better. I wanted to remember what the bad news was but I seemed so numbed and fragile.

“Your butterfly wings were damaged, my little Mariposa, but we will make the new ones.” She started sobbing loudly again.

I looked around and remembered how I had died as a butterfly. But what had happened? And what the bad news was? I feared to ask Sonya.

I tried to stand up from my bed and walk, but it seemed that my leg was broken. And seeing my effort to raise my body, she grabbed me in her arms, held me close to her chest and carried me to the living room.

All around the room there were candles, and their burning warmed the entire room. I looked around and saw the photos of my parents displayed on the shelves and table. The flowers were everywhere as well, and the mix of the smells made the air suffocating. My heart started beating faster. Sonya noticed my anxiety and confusion and she held me even harder to her chest.

“It is all right, my dear child. They are now in some better place. And those awful men with the guns who had killed them will be brought to justice. They would be sentenced and left to rot in some stinky cells condemned by the whole world.”

And then, everything came back to me. The memory of the bad news brought by the neighbors and my shock and terror, and my falling down the stairs.

My parents were shot during one of the protests; they were shot by the policemen, the men who were supposed to help people.

And what about all those ideals my parents had embedded in me? Well, I don’t know. Somehow, when they died, those ideals crashed for some time as well.

But I am trying to bring them back.

Sonya made me new butterfly wings. I am again the blue morphe. And that blue morphe flies gracefully over people’s heads, makes them smile and laugh, and run after her. That butterfly tries to bring her own faith in people back and in the ideals that once were, as her parents taught her, the most precious things.

The blue morphe sees the hope in children’s eyes and believes optimistically that she and others would make those ideals become reality.

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Ana Vidosavljevic

Ana Vidosavljevic from Serbia currently living in Indonesia. She has her work published or forthcoming in Down in the Dirt (Scar Publications), Literary Yard, RYL (Refresh Your Life), The Caterpillar, The Curlew, Eskimo Pie, Coldnoon, Perspectives, Indiana Voice Journal, The Raven Chronicles, Setu Bilingual Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Madcap Review, The Bookends Review, Gimmick Press, (mac)ro(mic), Scarlet Leaf Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, A New Ulster. She worked on a GIEE 2011 project: Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers 2011 as a member of the Institute Mihailo Pupin team. She also attended the International Conference “Bullying and Abuse of Power” in November, 2010, in Prague, Czech Republic, where she presented her paper: “Cultural intolerance”.

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