Sunday, October 30, 2011

Concrete Butterfly

Her best friends are back from church. They're skipping rope and singing a new jumprope song. The group of girls' laughter, add to the brightness of a perfect summer afternoon.  Except for one angelic, wistful eyed child. Her big brown eyes observe the scene below.  Moms and Dads, including her own, are out in their front yards, chatting amicably. It's a traditional Sunday off. Golden-haired Mother is beautiful in her new dress. The sun frames her form, she's Madonna, complete with innocent, chubby, three year old Carrie.  Daddy looks fit, casually tosing the football to her brother, Jeron.

A flash of resentment, she's always in her room, watching her friends through the window.  They all look up and wave.  She waves back.  They know she's sick...again.  She'll be allowed out in a few days. They know that for certainty, too. It's a strange, yet predictable pattern.

She feels like she's stuck in the life cycle of a butterfly.  Although she's never the egg.  It's always into the chrysalis for a painful transformation, then a short brief stint into the sunlight.  She sighs and closes the curtains.  The clock flashes 4 p.m.  Bleh,  it's another two hours until dinner. Not that she's hungry anyway.  Then another three hours until bedtime.  Repeat, until the Dr. says that it's okay.  She grabs her favorite book and reads it for the 100th time. She forgets what her Dr. looks like.  Mother always just calls.

Exactly two hours later, footsteps come up.  They are so soft that had the third step from the top not creaked...she shudders.  Mother always brings up the nastiest drinks.  She can't believe that the Dr. would prescribe something so awful.  It smells a little like pine sol. 

Mother frowns at her, "Are you feeling better my dear?" Mother brushes her hair off her forehead.  Her french manicured hands test her temperature. She rebelliously contemplates saying something contrary.  But she knows that means that mother will come up again with more nasty drinks at around 3 a.m.  She dutifully replies, "No, mother. I feel worse.  My stomach is hurting."

Mother smiles, "Here's your medicine my precious butterfly."  She sips it slowly, trying not to gag. Her face brave for Mother.

The doorbell rings.  Mother snorts annoyance and leaves.  It interrupts her routine of making sure not a drop is wasted.  Relieved, she quickly pours the drink into the dead potted plant.  Thank heavens, Mother hadn't removed it yet.  Her stomach relaxes in gratitude.

A tell-tale creak, then the bedroom light snaps on.  It's 3a.m!  Why is Mother up here?  Didn't she act sick enough? Mother's ice-blue eyes pierce sleepy, brown ones.  The face wore a practiced look of concern.  But Mother's eyes...she awakens into full-blown fear.  Mother touches her flushed cheeks lightly.  "My precious butterfly has killed the plant. Did you forget?  It only needs water."

Mother picks the pot up and leaves.  The door shuts gently, ominously.

It's morning, her eyes are bruised from lack of sleep. She waited for the third step creak all night.  The family sits silently, heads bowed for grace.  She looks up.  Daddy winks. Mother senses the disturbance and glares both back in to correct behavior.  Daddy reaches across the table and gently pats her hand.  Little Carrie's voice lisps the final line. In unison they say, "Amen". She feels the anxious fluttering in her stomach. Mother has made her a special bowl of...soup. She shoves it away.  Daddy's concerned.  She pulls the bowl back.

After breakfast, Daddy grabs Carrie, and also manages to lean over to kiss her forehead in apology. He knows that she hates being stuck at home.  Lucky Carrie, it's her playdate with grandma.  Luckier Jeron, he gets to go his friend's for a sleepover.  She is once again stuck at home with Mother. Another day of listening to her friends playing outside.

That night, the ultimate metamorphosis.  Soon after, at her funeral, she hovers watchful. It's another perfect summer day.  But no one is playing.  Her friends are crying. Daddy is bowed and looks old. The colors are dark.  The truth of her demise is painfully clear, but only to her. Her family's auras flash with sorrow, except Mother's. It's triumphant.

Carrie is asking, Where's sissy?" Her mother's tearless face leans over.  "Wouldn't you like a statue like this?"

She floats over to look with them. The cheap concrete tombstone engraved with flowers and butterflies has her name and dates.  Mother whispers, "Don't you want to join sissy?"  Carrie's sweet voice lisps and her shiny brunette head bobs.  Mother's red lips curl into a thin smile, "Then you shall, my precious butterfly.  Then you shall."

tombstone - concrete butterfly

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