Ladies Bug, by Romeo Esparrago

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Until Another Emerges...
by Gregory Paul Mineeff

 

Waves of a turquoise gold bulge flatly, gently upon the surface. The sea is flat, calm, breathing. The expanse is windless. As the sun sets, the sky turns a brilliant saffron-pink that sprinkles the water with particles of sparkling light. The sand sits dull and wet, waiting for the night to greet it with its smirk of starry teeth.

Over the horizon, hopping silently, as if pushing off clouds that cannot be seen, flies a butterfly. It is about the size of a palm, with antlers the size of its body. Flying closer to the calm surface of the ocean, it hops along turbulently, but with a grace and a silence that is appreciated by the incessant tumbling of the waves. Heading for shore, it flies forward without halt.

As it flies, the setting sun and the colours it evokes shimmer on the butterfly's wings, corrupting the colour of itself. The butterfly's wings are a light pink with light-blue spots, and dark-blue veins. Its hairy body is a lightly coated mauve or purple. Its eyes, a black. But today, now, the butterfly appears as something more.

With the colours around it absorbing and heightening what it appears to be, the butterfly surges forward through colour and still air, and saffron sky and invisible clouds. Through it all it flies, as if alone, oblivious. As if it knows what could happen and does not care, the butterfly swings lower, closer to the bulging water. Unbroken waves continue to form, and the butterfly begins to ride these softly. One foot, one leg upon the swell, a slight ripple, a wave, then it hops into the air again. Always flying forward, it does this.

Moving closer towards the shore, the swell bulges more, quickening pace. The butterfly leaps off another unbroken wave and zooms forward, leaving its own imprint upon the turquoise-gold below it. With one last leap, the waves begin to crash and shatter before the butterfly. Swirling about on itself, the butterfly dives towards an unbroken wave ready to crash. With inevitable precision, the butterfly surfs the wave. Along the wave it slides, holding its wings upright. The butterfly leaves a trail that is erased almost instantly. It is only trying to surf the wave before it crashes. It has no other purpose than this.

Whitening, the wave begins to crumble. Like faces of gargoyles or spirits of messages untold now and yelling for freedom, for fulfillment of what they were meant to achieve, the wave howls forward and along, so that its barreling self closes in on the butterfly's surfing body. With a gulp, a breath, and a bite, the butterfly is devoured, and the bodies within the wave are silenced once more...


* * *

Through the open window, the sky is a midnight blue-black, thick and lumpy. Below, the black ocean crashes, shattering into a stone tower a-hundred-and-fifty-metres tall. The transparent lace curtains of the room flap and flitter to the ostinato of the banging of the wooden windows on the outside of the house.

Through the window flies a butterfly. Silent, deft, clumsily precise it hops. Towards the back of the room it flies, towards a woman seated at a desk. Her head is buried in her arms, resting on the table. She is silent. The butterfly approaches her easily. She does not rouse at the approach. Coming closer, the butterfly lands on the woman's ear. She lifts her head, not startled, but use to the feeling of butterfly feet on her skin. Slowly, the woman cups her hand over the butterfly and her ear. Immersed in the airy ocean of her cupped palm, the butterfly whispers, This is the last one, my dear. When you have heard this, you will be all that is left of me. Just as you hear the words I whisper now, I will be with you always in the cupped palm that holds the ocean of us. Forever we shall bathe together here, so do not despair. I wish I could see you one more time, just once. I have not seen you in so long. Remember, I love you, my daughter, that I was thinking of you with my last thought. Now, let my breath fly out the window it entered, so my butterfly may finally reside on the beach that completes us all...


* * *

Laying sprawled across the floor, a man lifts his head. Gazing at the walls of the cell about him, the man sobs as he sees butterflies clinging to every available space on the walls. The butterflies sit still and silent, as if sleeping, like a settled ocean. Hovering above them, out from their bodies, their wings are a pink and a blue. Each wing flitters occasionally, readying for the flight ahead. The man struggles to his feet, coming to rest leaning on the sole window of the room. The window is not barred. It is a metre by half a metre. Thrusting his head out into the salty wind, the man squints as the salt and the wet stings him. Waves crash below him, a hundred metres below. The spray reaches him with the guidance of the wind. Letting his long hair slap his bare neck, the man stares into the misty night, and wonders where the butterflies that surround him will find his daughter...


* * *

To my dearest daughter, I am sorry it has to end this way. I have done all that I can to avoid what you know to be true. I have pleaded my case, my life, yours. I have told them all I have to offer, and still I am shown no remorse. This is the end for me. I hope, I only wish that these butterflies find you before they do...

Opening her cupped palm, the woman releases the ocean of whispers and the butterfly flies free. Heading towards the window it swoops away from her and her tears. As the butterfly slices its way through the encroaching night, the door of the woman's room opens. She does not recoil as the guards enter. They do not speak as they lift her from her seat. Taking her from her room, the woman closes her eyes and dreams that the guards' hands are wings, and that she is floating above the ocean, just as the butterfly she just released is. She only opens her eyes again when she is dropped onto the cold stone floor of her new cell. As the door slam shuts, she opens her eyes to view a room lined with butterflies...

...I plead with you to flee, my dear. Run, escape, do anything you can to leave. Just as they have me, they will find you. You will not be spared. I have been imprisoned for what I believe to be true, for what I believe we all know and want. We do not have to be imprisoned by their ideals, their hopes, their regime. I will not be barred by them. This is why they come for me. This is why they will come for you. Because you are my daughter...

The butterflies around her flitter and jiggle in the breeze and the rush of the ocean. She does not move to the window to see what is there; she already knows. Her father told her, with his butterflies. She will not send a message to anyone, she decides. She does not want to burden anyone else with the fear of capture. She drops her head...

For years the conglomerate of Narrative has confined us all. They have slowly worked their way into a position where all else shies from our view. We cannot see what else there is on offer. All other parties, all other factions and ideals have been driven from our world and thoughts. Now, to breath means them. To eat means an acknowledgement and acceptance of their ideals. Nothing can be done that is not them in some way or form. Daughter, I cannot exist like this. I cannot live under such rules...


* * *

Guards rush into the man's room. Peering through the slit in the door, they had made sure all butterflies were gone before they entered. Shuffling feet, low grumbles and shoves sound, reverberating pathetically off the stone walls. They reef the man off the cold stone floor and out through the door of his cell. Scolding and cursing him, the guards run through the passages of the tower. The man does not struggle or fight. Instead, he stiffens his neck, holding it upright. His face is a visage of defiance. It is a proud stare, one that tells all they pass that he could not have lived any other way. After a short run, the guards come to another room. This one has no door, no butterflies. It is a huge room, with massive walls and a ceiling that cannot be seen. Inside, the walls are lined with people smiling and shouting. They sit on stands that bank into a darkness that greedily reaches for him. Glancing his challenging stare about at those gathered, the man sees curses sprayed out of mouths he considers numb from submission. He sees lips quiver and flake with a disgusting disease of conformity and ease. As the guards approach the far end of the room, the man sees the crowd pulse and ripple, as a wave would in the great ocean he is about to greet for the final time. The crowd screams with one voice, with no one above them.

Reaching the other side of the room, the man is faced with a huge void. There is no wall here, only his destiny to be faced. Below him, he sees the grey waves shatter as they crash into the jagged rocks a hundred metres below. As the man is pushed by the guards, the crowd scream and gurgle ecstatically, with their eyes nearly launching out of their pulsing skulls. Their eyeballs barely contained by the red fingers of their blood-shot eyes...


* * *

For years I have been hunted. I have fought all those who have tried to capture me, I have battled as best I could. Wading through the senseless throngs of this world, I have led those brave enough to follow. Some were captured, lost, killed. But never, never did we abandon one of our own. Now, it is now, I ask you not to abandon, not only what I believe, but all of the people I have left behind. They wait for my return, idly. By now, I am sure they will have concluded I shall not return. But it is imperative that you travel to them, for me, and tell them what has happened to me. I would have sent them a message, but this would have surely uncovered them. I know that you will evade capture, though. You, my wily daughter. I want them to know that I fought to the end. Do not let them wonder about me. It is you who can lead them now. They need to be told...

The woman lifts her head. Her room is still full with butterflies. She knows the guards will not enter her room while the butterflies are still present. They respect the final message of a being too much to intervene before hand. It is the tradition they will respect, not her. Winding, swirling, the wind gushes in and out of her ears as she thinks of the impossibility of her choice. If she does not tell anyone, she will be left to rot, alone. She cannot do this. She must stand defiant to the end. She must follow her father. What else is there to do? She knows she cannot send a message to those who wait for her father to return, though. If she was to do this, they would surely be discovered and exterminated, just as her family has been.

She will be the last to be persecuted and tortured, she decides. They will have to wonder. Eventually, they will uncover the truth and another will emerge with intent, direction, and innovation. They will then be followed.

Lifting her hands to the first butterfly she sees, the woman cups it in her palm. Enveloping it in her ocean, she whispers to it. She tells it to journey to the only being she knows will not suffer by its presence: her father.

Out of the window it flies. Hopping, juggling the wind beneath its wings, the butterfly moves into the grey expanse of her destiny and her father's doom. It is only the first of the butterflies that will leave her...

I have defied all for fear of convention and mindless acceptance my whole life. But now, I realise that I have not done as good a job as I thought. For, me, my life, my dreams, have finally come to an end, just like everything else. How predictable, how mundane is that?

The butterfly flies....

 

Story © 2003 by Gregory Paul Mineeff gpmineeff@hotmail.com


Illustration © 2003 by Romeo Esparrago romeo@planetmag.com




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