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He had killed a butterfly once, just to spite her. She didn’t think that butterflies ever died, and they’d just float on forever and ever, and no one would ever try to hurt them.
“Why do ya think that?” He asked frowning in the way that crinkled up his eyebrows and nose, and poking out his belly. He must have been eight or nine at the time, and always used to jut out his belly when he was frustrated.
“Cuz they’re so beautiful,” she said dreamily, looking up at the sky, “Nobody wants to hurt something beautiful.”
He stared at her hard. Her curls were frizzy, her yellow dress was stained with grass and dirt and Capri Sun, but her lips were bright red, and hung open in a perfect pout. She was beautiful.
He kicked the dirt and wondered if it was true, if beautiful people never hurt, no one was ever out to get them, and they just floated on forever and ever.
The butterfly landed on the bench.
He decided it wasn’t fair. What made a butterfly more important than an earthworm, less scary than a spider? How come butterflies weren’t fed to pet snakes, or exterminated? He looked at the butterfly and scowled.
“Looks aren’t everything, you know” he said.
“Not everything,” she agreed, pushing her wild hair out of her face and standing up, “But definitely something”.
She left him to go find her sister, she invited him to come, but he said no. He couldn’t stop staring at the butterfly, methodically batting its wings, mocking him. He had to agree that it was beautiful, and he didn’t even like that kind of thing. It made him mad though, to look at it and know that it would always be happy, just flapping its wings, and though he may suffer, and he may hurt, it never would. It would fly, and float, and be marveled at.
Nobody had ever called him beautiful before.
So partly out of anger, and partly out of curiosity, he stepped on it.
It looked dead to him. Bending down, to inspect closer, he looked at the wings flattened against the sidewalk, and the body, squished and as ugly as any other dead bug. With medical precision, he peeled the wings up off the ground, plucked them from the body of the dead creature. They fell off easily.
For a while, he held them in his little hands and just looked at them. They shimmered blue-ish silver, and were still beautiful. It was like she said, he guessed, there was just something about looks, something that lasted, something that mattered, though they couldn’t save you. He didn’t know how he felt about killing something beautiful, or even if he was reassured that they were indeed mortal. He carefully tucked the wings into his pocket and walked home. He told her what he’d done and she cried and said she’d never talk to him again. He thought he’d keep the wings forever, but a year later, they turned to dust and blew away.