Fiction: The Magic of Butterflies

James Bates

- James Bates

In the instant before Annie passed away, her Fairy God Mother came to her and held her hand.

            In the instant after she breathed her final breath, her Fairy God Mother held her to her bosom and said, "Welcome, my dear. Welcome home."

            Annie looked at the kindly lady and wept tears of joy. She was finally pain free. She had never felt so good.

            Her Fairy God Mother said, "Now, Annie dear, here's comes the fun part. If you want to go back, you can. Do you want to?"

            "Oh, I'd love to go back! Would it be possible to see Andy?" She clapped her hands with joy. "I'd like that so much."

            "Yes, you can. You can go see your husband but there's a catch. You can't return as a human. You have to pick something else. Can you do that?"

            Janie didn't have to think. "Yes. I know exactly what I want to go back as."

            "Then it is done," her Fairy God Mother replied, waving her wand and dusting Annie with shimmering golden glitter. "You are free to return."

***

Oh, how the butterflies danced that morning on the summer breeze, drifting through the garden, keeping Andy company as he bent to his tasks. He smiled remembering how Annie loved them, even talked to them, whispering in their own ethereal language. Before she died, they would relax on their garden bench, butterflies fluttering about, a poetic dance of daintiness, those colorful swallowtails, painted ladies, red admirals and monarchs fluttering among the flowers, alighting sometimes on Annie's outstretched hand.

            Suddenly his memories were interrupted by a caramel colored butterfly landing daintily on his shoulder. It stretched open its wings wide catching the warm rays of the early morning sun. Then it turned to him.

            "Hello, darling," the lovely painted lady said. "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

            Andy's heart quickened. For the past two years she had returned, and now this third time he finally realized it wasn't a dream. Annie really would re-appear every year.

            "It is my dear," he smiled and reached out to stroke her wings. "It's a beautiful day."

            She tittered, "Oh, no you don't. No touching. It's not good for my wings." Then she laughed, "You know that you silly man."

            He turned serious for a moment, "I know, but sometimes I forget." Then he grinned, "Oh, Annie, it's so good to see you again. It's been so long."

            "I know. A year. You understand, though, that I can't stay with you. I have to leave, right? I have to go through my change." She sighed," But it's always good to see you and be with you if even for a short while. It makes my year."

            "Mine too," he said, dripping some sweetened ice tea into the palm of his hand. "Here you go sweetheart. This is for you."

            She alighted on his wrist and eagerly sipped up the sweet liquid. "My goodness Andy, that tastes wonderful."

            "It's sun tea with herbs from the garden. I made it thinking of you."

            Annie flew up on a soft breeze. "You're so thoughtful." She brushed closed to his face. Butterfly kisses. "Come. Walk with me."

            They strolled casually among the daylilies, geraniums, cosmos and sunflowers.

            "Do you like how the garden is looking this year?"

            She flew to his shoulder and alighted. "It looks wonderful, my dear. As always."

            They shared the rest of the day and he was never so happy as he was now, when they were together. But, alas, all good things had to come to an end and toward sunset she flew close and said, "Okay, dear, I'm getting tired. I've got to go and get ready for next year so I can come back and see you again."

            "I'll be here I hope," he said, smiling, making a little joke.

            Then he waved good-bye, watching as she floated away on the warm summer breeze. A tear formed. He'd miss her so.

            He was taking a step to go inside when suddenly a stabbing pain shot through his upper body. He clutched at his chest, the world spinning away as he staggered forward, one step, two steps. Then all went black and he dropped to the ground. He died instantly. Heart attack, is what people said

The next year the neighbors would remark on the two butterflies that could be seen in the area. A painted lady and a red admiral, flying close like they knew each other, never far from the other's side, like they were meant to be together.

            And they are too, because forever and for all time they will be found on one day every year, the two of them floating from flower to flower, sipping sweet nectar and dancing their own ballet together on those soft summer breezes, winging their way to eternity.

            Such is the magic of the butterflies.

***

BIO: Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories and poems have appeared in nearly three hundred online and print publications. “Resilience” a collection of twenty-seven short stories was published in February, 2021, by Bridge House Publishing. “Periodic Stories” a collection of thirty-one stories was published in March, 2021, by Impspired. A dystopian adventure novella “Something Better” was published by Dark Myth Publications in July, 2021. His stories can be found on his blog: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.


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