This is a short fiction piece I wrote; the prompt was just to write a piece that had something to do with a butterfly. Enjoy!
It’s amazing what can happen because of a butterfly. Doesn’t Chaos Theory say something like that? I don’t know, doesn’t matter, the point is, it all started with a butterfly. Go figure.
The only exercise I really get these days comes from walking. I can’t afford a gym, and I’m not sure I’d go to one if I could—all those people looking at you, ugh. I just can’t face that. But walking can get boring unless you mix it up, and if I’m bored, I plain won’t do it. On that particular day, I started feeling bored about halfway through, and to top things off, my iPod died. So I was facing thirty minutes with nothing to distract me from the fact I was exercising, and my brain wasn’t really up for that.
I was trying to come up with some game I could play to keep my mind busy, when a monarch butterfly flew across my path. They aren’t rare or anything, you can see ‘em all the time if you know where to look. It just seemed like perfect timing is all, so when it flew around the corner I figured hey why not—I’ll follow it.
She flitted around the way butterflies do—backtracking, going in circles, then jumping far forward—so I had to really focus to keep up with her, and I probably looked like a crazy person changing direction all the time. But you know, random movements are supposed to fool your muscles, or something like that. At least that’s what they’re saying today.
So I was watching her hard, and after a while when she decided to set herself down for a minute, I looked around while I walked in place. Wouldn’t you know it, I was on a street I’ve never seen before, no idea how we got there. I’m not one of those people that make, what are they called, mental maps? I used to get lost in the building where I worked, no lie. So it probably wasn’t too smart of me to follow a butterfly, truth be told.
The street wasn’t anything special, but just around the corner I caught a glimpse of that pretty woodwork you seen on Victorian houses, what’s it called, corbels? Spandrils? I don’t know. But there it was, in these whimsical colors, navy blue and mint green, with bits of coral here and there. I couldn’t help myself, I have such a weakness for that sort of thing, so I went around the corner to see the rest of it.
It was so charming, covered with all sorts of gables and little porches and it even had a circular stained glass window. It wasn’t huge or anything, and it wasn’t restored perfectly, but it was the kind of house that just makes you happy to look at, you know? So I pulled out my phone to take a picture of it. As I was trying to figure out how to make it look the other way (why do I want a picture of myself anyway, I know what I look like!), I heard someone call my name.
I looked up, and there was a woman at the door. She looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place her.
“Maggie, it’s Deanna. Don’t you recognize me?”
Well, I’ll tell you, you coulda knocked me over with a feather. Deanna and I had been best friends way back up until the fourth grade, years and years ago. We did everything together, shared all our secrets. She was always there for me when my mother would have one of her ‘episodes’, and I showed up at her house crying. She’d hug me and let me cry it out, never asked questions I didn’t want to answer. And then she’d find some way to take my mind off of it all. It near broke my heart when she moved away; in those days we didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or My-gram or whatever those all are. We didn’t even have e-mail. I felt like I’d lost a piece of myself, and although we wrote letters, both of us moved around so much after that, we eventually lost touch.
I ran up to her, and we gave each other the biggest hug, tears streaming down both our faces. I guess I don’t mind telling you, I’ve been lonely since my daughter died. Not a lot of people stick with you through something like that; cancer is a horrible way to go, and it took all my energy trying to help her beat it. I just didn’t have time to keep up with my friendships, I guess.
We talked for two hours, catching up on everything in our lives. She had three girls, and one of them has passed too, can you imagine? Talk about knowing what someone is going through. We talked and we cried and we laughed, and I swear, it was like we never left each other’s side.
I had to leave because of my doctor’s appointment, but she’s coming to visit tomorrow. Isn’t it amazing how these things happen? I don’t know how it works, or why, but I’ll tell you this. When I left, that butterfly was perched right up on her fencepost.
© Michelle M. Chouinard 2014 All rights reserved.