Butterflies Don't Bite

by Robin Hamblin-Fuller



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"Damn!... That's sore," I exclaimed, as my sweater rubbed on the insect bite I got this afternoon, and I rolled the sleeve up to take another look at it. It was an angry lump with an obvious point of entry in the middle, faint red lines beginning to radiate from it, and as it was in the crease of elbow, naturally, every time I bent my arm it made its presence known.

My daughter and I had been playing in the park, as it was my weekend with her, and she loved to explore the place... sharing the same love of outdoors as I did, when it had happened. We were passing near a bush in flower, when a cloud of butterflies rose from it and I had to confess to her, I had never seen that species before... they were a bright yellow, with a blue-grey 'eye' in each wing.

They swirled about us and one landed on my arm, so I stood still to allow Sandy a closer look; as she peered intently at it, I felt a sharp jab, and by instinct, slapped my hand on it, crushing it instantly.

Of course, Sandy was instantly upset. "Daddy!! How COULD you?? How could you DO such a thing??... You KILLED it!!" and she spent quite some time in tears over it, despite my trying to explain that it had stung me...and she had demanded I take her home right away, cutting our time together short.

Naturally the inevitable row with the ex over her state when I brought her home, Sandy running indoors crying, shouting as she went in that "Daddy killed a butterfly... he's a MURDERER... he said it bit him.. I KNOW butterflies DON'T BITE!" ...and nothing I could do or say would convince her otherwise.

Of course, Mary made a meal over it, screaming and yelling at me to "Leave and leave the child alone..." indicating another round of battles with Lawyers trying to get visiting rights re-instated, as she would be at hers in the morning claiming my unsuitability to visit with Sandy.

As I had done so often in the past, I left in a non-too-clear a state of mind, and headed for the bar to drown my anger, then decided against that idea once I walked in and saw the crowd there--last thing I needed was company tonight, and I settled on a bottle of wine from the corner store. to do it alone at home.

So here I was, more miserable than before, feeling lousy, and this blasted bite annoying me--Sandy must have been right, I guess, there must have been a damned horse-fly or something, as well as the butterfly... well, whatever, if it's any worse in the morning I'll drop into the clinic on the way to work.

I made my way, unsteadily to bed and watched the full moon peering at me through my apartment window for a while until I finally dropped off.

I awoke feeling terrible... nauseous, sweating, shaking, my head pounding, my guts cramped, and I knew it was make the bathroom or make the bed later.

I literally fell out of the bed, crawled to the bathroom, hung my head over the edge of the porcelain throne, and heaved, and it felt as if I was turning inside out, and if my back arched any more I was in danger of falling into the toilet.

Spasm after spasm, each more violent than the last, until there was nothing left to bring up, and the final one was so painful I must have passed out, as I came to with the first dawn's light beginning to creep into the room.

I had fallen on my arm and it was now like electric shocks in the system, as the circulation began to return. I made to rub it, to hasten the recovery, and the pain that caused me, had me howl in pain.

I looked down at what had just been a swelling last night, now streaks of yellow, red, green and purple radiated in all directions... obviously it had become infected, and I needed to get to see a doctor fast.

I grabbed the edge of the sink with my good hand and hauled myself up to look into the mirror, when it hit me between the shoulder blades...I could swear my spine was being ripped out, and I fell forward again, using the wall for support. Mists of red swam before my eyes and I just stayed where I was until it all passed over.

As my eyes focused I could see yellow all around me, reflecting from the walls behind me, and when I managed to get to my shaving mirror there it was behind me, sprouting from my shoulders, flapping behind me.

I gathered strength to make it to the bedroom... the full-length mirror confirmed it--I had wings, big beautiful YELLOW wings!! With grey blue eyes on them.

I felt... liberated... I was free of pain, free of confinement in this apartment, free to fly. Could I use them? I wondered, and by flexing my shoulders, they moved, and I could feel the movement moving me.

I had to fly, I had to fly to Sandy and share this with her! Then she would forgive me for what I did. I ran to the balcony, there in the morning sun around my balcony were the butterflies I saw in the park; they were waiting for me, waiting for me to join them, hang on my brothers... I'm coming... wait for me... and I launched myself off the balcony to join them.

The flashing lights, the yellow tapes proclaiming "Police Area, do not Cross," was surrounded by the usual macabre crowd, trying to glimpse the body, all making their comments, and judgements without knowing the full facts.

Officer Clancy was doing his best to keep them back and contain his early morning donut, just his luck to be the nearest to have to answer the call and to find it to be a friend of his, no less; poor guy, he'd seen him in the park trying to comfort his daughter yesterday, and now this... Must have been the last straw I guess, was all he could think, and his thoughts were interupted by the arrival of the Sergeant.

"Not another one," was his curt greeting. "That's five since Friday... must be some connection somewhere..." And he pulled back the cover to examine the shattered form beneath it.

"Thought so... another junkie on a bad trip... did you see this Officer?" And he indicated the angry lines on the arm radiating from the point that looked like an injection point.

Officer Clancy protested... "I've known him for years, Sarge!!... he wasn't on drugs... I swear it!!"

"Son... I've been around for a long time and on the streets for years, and I know a junkie when I see one... you'd be surprised who the closet junkies are... some are damned good at hiding it... I'll let the Narc squad know there some bad shit out there again... happens every once in a while..." And he dropped the sheet.

As Officer Clancy turned away he heard the slap of a hand on skin, and turned to see the Sergeant, wiping something with yellow wings off the back of his neck. "Damned bugs this year... another damned bite," and he stormed off to make his report.

Officer Clancy smiled to himself. "Well I've been around for a long time too Sarge," he said under his breath, "and one thing I DO know is, Butterflies don't bite!"


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Butterflies Don't Bite © 2000 by Robin Hamblin-Fuller

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