Those Butterflies Inside

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I watched him from where I sat in the audience. The movements he made in real life masked by the character he was portraying, but I could sense him underneath it all. I felt dizzy. Something was being tugged deep inside me, and the edges of something burned. I closed my eyes for a minute, then opened them again. He stood tall, and walked briskly across the large stage. I found it hard to concentrate on anything he said. All I could do was watch him and remember.

*

“Emma,” a little boy’s voice called out. “Over here!”
I looked up and saw Danny on a large rock a few feet away from me. “Catch me if you can!” He called. I began to run. I watched him jump from the moss covered rock into the creek. He was headed to our fort, I knew it. I would catch him for sure. He wasn’t that fast!

The water I was trudging through splashed up on my sundress. It was alright though, because I had another sundress, only the other one was blue, not orange. “Emma is a slow poke!” Danny called out to the tangled trees. “Am not!” I exclaimed, jumping over a glass bottle. I could see Danny’s black shirt disappear behind a tree. I jumped from the creek onto solid ground. I could see raccoon prints in the moist dirt.

Danny was on the trail now, and I ran as fast as I could to keep up with him. He kept running, but he turned to look back at me. His grin etched from ear to ear, and his dimple greeting me in his right cheek. “To the fort!” He laughed. My feet thudded against the dirt and I laughed aloud. I tilted my head to the sky and looked above me. The trees shaded our trail, only bits of sunlight lighting our path, yet I could see the bright blue sky and the fluffy white clouds. I prayed to God that they would never take Danny away from me like they took my old foster brother, Erik. Erik was my best friend, but Mommy said the people wanted him to go away, so he did.

Danny yelped as loudly as he could and he jumped up and twisted in the air. “Yeah!” He exclaimed running down the path. I could feel my breath beginning to fall out of me, but I wouldn’t dare stop running. Danny jumped over the white rocks and when I got to them I did too. We were almost there. I was finally on his tail when we both saw a deer. Danny stopped dead in his tracks and took me by the arm. I was breathing loudly but Danny didn’t seem out of breath at all. I tried to stay quiet as to not scare the deer. Danny was holding my hand. “Look!” He whispered to me. There were two baby deer behind the big one. “That must be the mama,” Danny said, pointing to her. “And those are her babies.” Danny’s eyes were so intent on the creatures, and just his look made me want to look harder. I wanted to see what Danny saw.

The mother deer bent her graceful neck to the ground to eat. One of her babies seemed to shake a little behind her, but once he was by her side, he was at ease again. “I wonder if they know something we don’t.” Danny said. I didn’t really understand what he meant, so I didn’t answer. And I didn’t want to ruin the moment. Danny let go of my hand and took a step closer to the deer. The mama’s head flew up. She looked right at Danny and me and took two steps back. Danny shook his head slightly and whispered something to the deer. Mama’s eyes were wide with fear and protection for her babies, but her eyes got lighter and lighter the closer Danny got. He kept talking to her and he kept getting closer. Finally Danny stopped right in front of one of her babies. Mama’s eyes were watching him, but Mama trusted Danny. Danny smiled to Mama and gently placed his hand on the baby’s head. He stroked Mama’s baby until he turned around smiling. He walked towards me, took my hand, and we continued to walk to our fort.

*

“How did you do that?” I asked him in awe.
“Do what?” He questioned me. Danny was staring right into my eyes, his brown hair almost covering his own.
“Pet her baby…” I looked to him. I wanted to know the answer.
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I just wanted to, so I did.”
I nodded and looked at our hands.
“They’re like a puzzle piece put together, huh?” He smiled.
I looked to him. “What is?”
“Our hands, Emma,” Danny squeezed my hand within his own. I looked up to him. A swirl was swirling in my stomach. I could tell Danny knew.
“You feel that, too?” He asked, eyes wider.
“Those butterflies inside?” I whispered.
“Yes.” He muttered, even softer than I did.
Danny looked at me, almost puzzled. His eyes searched my face like he going to find an answer there, but I could never give him answers.
“I think we are supposed to kiss now,” Danny said.
“Right now?”
“I think so…” Danny nodded.
The butterflies wouldn’t stop flying around.
Danny moved his face closer to mine, and then I did too. When his lips were on mine, I closed my eyes. Danny kissed me like in the movies. When it was over, we smiled. “Emma, you’re my best friend in the whole word.”

*

I stared at Danny on the stage. My heart beat violently in my ears. My breathing became a challenge like it had so many years ago running with him in the woods. A tear rolled down my face as I recalled the day Danny was taken away. “They found him a new family, Emma, a permanent family. They will love him just as much as we did.” My mother said, consoling me that terrible night. “He’ll be okay.” My mother said, stroking my cheek. But I could not stop crying. Mother never knew.
I stared at his name in the program. Daniel Williams. His name was all I could see.

“It’s very exciting, isn’t it?” A woman whispered to her two children in front of me.
“What’s this place called again?” The little boy asked.
“Broadway,” His mother replied.
I looked to Danny again, and it seemed for an instant his blue eyes met mine. Out of everyone in the audience, every face in the room, mine was the one he saw. My eyes were welled with tears, and the butterflies wouldn’t stop flying around.





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