Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yellow Butterflies

She was old enough to know, but young enough to disappear within her imagination. Her kingdom of calla lilies had to be tended to, after all, regardless of what tragedies took place in the deceptively dull realm of the real world. Ruling alone was an awfully gigantic task, and there were no princes of worth nearby. Some were too ugly; some were too smelly; most were too stupid... and they all had cooties. She had a quest to begin soon, anyway. A journey her uncle told her that could take the rest of her life. There were no worries, however, for she didn't think she'd be away from her calla lilies for too long.

The quest was, perhaps, the kindest thing her uncle had ever given to her. The little girl refused to come to terms with her father's death. Car accidents and heart attacks didn't exist among the callaliliputians (a term her father had coined), so why should they exist for her father? An artist by trade, her uncle had recognized the girl's defense mechanism, and instead of following the suit of modern advice and making her confront the cold facts, he simply played along.

"But where did daddy go?" she asked, frowning, though she wasn't entirely convinced a frown was called for. She was simply imitating the expressions of the adults that were present.

Her uncle sighed, tired from reluctant and public tears, but turned to her with a big smile. "He moved, princess. He went to a different kingdom to rule."

Her eyes widened as big as the muffins she had stolen the week before (but told no one about, not even her sister). "Does he have a castle?" She seemed excited.

"Oh, yes," her uncle replied, "but it's a castle in the sky."

The girl frowned again, but this time with purpose. "How do I get there to see him?"

Her uncle picked her up and propped him on her lap. "Well, it's a very, very hard journey. One such a little girl might not be able to make. It might even take forever."

She crossed her arms, keeping the frown intact. "I'm not that little. I can make it."

"All right, then. First, you have to go to the gardens of stone and find the one with your daddy's name on it. That's his street sign. Understand?"

She nodded.

"Second," he continued, "you have to follow the yellow butterflies. One will lead you to another, and then another. Sometimes the butterflies will disappear and you'll have to look around for a hidden clue."

"Like when the Easter Bunny hides her eggs?" she interrupted.

"Yes, exactly like that." A telephone rang from the next room and her uncle set her down. As he got up to answer, he reminded her, "Follow the yellow butterflies."

"To the castle in the sky!" she exclaimed with a giggle, her frowns now an unimportant memory.

***

It was the tenth anniversary of her father's death, and she was weary of visiting him. Her life was about to take her to the far reaches of the world, and a hint of regret threatened to stain her aspirations before they had a chance to shine.

Remembering a childhood emotion, she glanced around for something, struggling to hold back her tears.

"Please," she said aloud, to no one in particular, "let me know that it's okay to leave you."

Not really expecting an answer, she parked her car and began the short walk to her father's gravesite. It was a beautiful spring day and there was still some moisture in the soil from a gentle rain two days prior. The birds were calling and the sun was warm. Only her mood darkened the beautiful and peaceful landscape.

As she approached the headstone, her eyes grew as large as those muffins she once stole. She fell to her knees and began to cry. Upon her father's marker, basking in the sun and flapping its wings to a song that no one could hear... a yellow butterfly.

Wiping the tears from her cheeks she looked up to the sky, imagining a cloud in the shape of a castle.

37 comments:

Ronda Laveen said...

Beautifully written. Touchingly told. Thanks for this.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Ok, that worked, I have a lump in my throat. Wonderful slice. -Jayne

Kat Mortensen said...

I like your use of colloquialisms such as "cooties" to give us a feel for the girl's personality.
Nice ending with the appearance of the butterfly at last.

Brian Miller said...

beautiful jeff. spot on today. these last two stories have been great, muse is back?

Kat Mortensen said...

I like your use of the colloquial "cooties" to give a sense of the little girl's personality.
Nice touch with the appearance of the butterfly at the last.

California Girl said...

Absolutely beautiful story and you had me right from the beginning.

Wings said...

Wow - I am in awe.

Is this really from you? I knew you had a heart, somewhere, deep down.

Try to visit the place this came from now and then, eh?

Tess Kincaid said...

Lovely and poignant. It's hard to let them go to that castle in the sky.

Dreamhaven said...

Absolutely fabulous. Happy TT

Ravyn said...

I'm with the rest of them who have made comments. Beautiful story and actually felt very personal to me. Shouldn't read these things at work - not good to cry here! LOL

reyjr said...

Beautifully written Jeffscape. :D I like it.


Although some might argue that during those days, if the king dies, and he has heirs, they would be killed too to prevent a future uprising. Hehe. But that would be ruining it. :p

Kat Mortensen said...

Apologize for the duplicate comment-my computer shut down for an update just as I was sending the first one.

Jasmine said...

Beautiful story. The uncle was a wise man, grief is est wrapped in beauty and comfort...

R.J. Edwards said...

That's really beautiful. TY for posting.

Skip Simpson said...

Beautiful! I believe you actually made me cry! LOL! Happy TT!

Kate Hanley said...

Oh! And ditto what everyone else said, truly beautiful.

e said...

I loved this. Thanks!

Mmm said...

Oh gosh, this totally chokes me up. Lovely post.

Betsy said...

I'm impresssed once again! Very lovely!

derailed hippo said...

That was a very powerful story!

Alan Burnett said...

How can you switch so effortlessly from writing about fear-soaked soldiers crawling through the mud with their guns to tear-rendering yellow butterflies? Skill Jeffscape, skill.

Mar said...

Beautiful, beautiful story!! I know a few people who need to find that yellow butterfly...

Baino said...

Lovely Jeff. I imagine birds for some reason when I think of my mother particularly . . the most beautiful crimson rosellas arrived the day after she died, stayed until she was buried and I haven't seen them since. Great story.

Bitsy said...

I will buck the trend, but for stricly personal reasons. I don't believe in lying to children, especially when it comes to death. It can be very harmful. I also hate post-death communications in stories. Again, personal reasons.

lettuce said...

this is lovely, very poignant

Not For Jellyfish said...

And this, my friend Jeff, is how you keep the girls. This is probably one of the most awesome things I've ever read from you.

Real Men Don't Tweet said...

It pulled at my heart strings. I slit my wrists and am bleeding out in a warm bubble bath.

Tina said...

This is my first time here. This is a really sweet story, beautifully done. Resonates with me about my own dad.

The Clean White Page

Brian Miller said...

yeah, i still agree with what i said last time...smiles. i am back!

She Writes said...

Really, Jeff. This one surprised me! Who knew? I should have had my friend read this one. I love what you did with her uncle, the castle, the garden of stones.

VE said...

Daddy has a castle in the sky and she's buying a stairway to heaven...

Nice story.

Eberle said...

I loved this. The first line is perfect. The Uncle is very wise - he draws my kind of map: a legible stone and the trail of butterflies. Thanks for this story!

PattiKen said...

This is just magical, a lovely story beautifully told. I love it! Thanks!

Mine is here.

Leah said...

I really appreciate this one.

Jingle said...

I wish I can see the yellow butterfly,
cool choice of yellow!

Happy Easter!

Jingle said...

http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/lets-double-thursday-fun/

here is mine,
thank you for looking at it!

Sushi said...

Really sweet story, I love this, thanks!

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