Chase of the Butterfly

February 9, 2011
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As I jogged up the hill to the market I thought about the day ahead of me. Jog back to the house, head to work at the botanical shop I had just opened, and a PTA meeting tonight. At the top of the hill the only street in town unfolded with shops and houses on the chilly Maine coast. It was a cozy little town with little to no traffic for a jogger like me to worry about. I passed the market section of Main Street and began to think about the letter I would write my runaway sister Rachel tonight about the simple life she had left behind years ago. I passed the Roger's house and waved to Mr. Roger's in the garden as he played with the blonde, curly haired 2-year-old Maci. She cooed and gurgled as I smiled at her and her father called out a quick hello. A lonely man after his wife died he had moved away from city life for the closeness of a small town. So far he seemed to be a sweet man about 50 yards past their yard I began to cross the long deserted street at the peak of the hill leading down from the market and into the bundle of houses that made up the town. Suddenly over the hill a white Ford Explorer came roaring towards me. Normally you yell at the idiot that stops in the middle of the road when they see a car coming, but when it’s real life and that person is you it is so very different. That deer in the headlights feeling kicks in and the fear paralyzes you. That little girls smile flashed in my mind. I felt the sharp impact of the car’s front end against my torso and for a moment it was as if the gravity switch was turned off. Flying, floating, dangling, it felt like all of that and more. Then like a kick to the stomach the searing pain erupted from my body and the ground came hurtling at me. Just before my world went black with impact my body twisted and contorted in mid-air and I was looking out at the soft blonde curls and gentle smile of a child.
***
I hurriedly strapped my red headed terror into her car-seat and buckled it into place. So far this morning she had thrown Cheerios all over the kitchen and pulled all the laundry out of the dryer to spread throughout the house, and it was only 8am. With a huff I called after Jack and Jules in annoyance. They were going to be late and I had far too much to do. Grabbing my travel mug off the top of the Explorer I slammed the door and climbed into the drivers seat. What is taking those kids so long? I thought with growing irritation and began angrily slamming the palm of my hand at the airbag symbol on the steering wheel, forcing a fog horn noise out of the over used vehicle. Jack came running out as fast as his 8-year-old legs could carry him, Spiderman backpack and all. Jules soon followed in a whirl of brunette curls and tote bag full of tennis gear. Her match today. I’d forgotten all about it. One more thing to add to my to-do list. Its times like this I wished I had never offered to be a stay at home dad so Marcy could go back to work after having Jenna. I turned the key and the Explorer roared to life as Spongebob simultaneously began playing for Jenna. Instinctively I beat the volume button furiously until the noise faded into near silence. I hated Spongebob. Jules climbed in the far back in irritation at being rushed. Fine by me, I didn’t have the patience to attempt at teenage conversation anyway. Jack pulled his way up off the ground and into the seat next to Jenna pulling the door closed behind him. As everyone settled in I pulled out of our long driveway and headed down the suburban road and up the hill towards the school grounds. Thankfully in a small town like ours all the schools had one location, thus one less stop for me. Jules began to talk about tennis and our usual argument ensued about who she would ride to the match with. This morning was particularly worse though because Jenna and Jack were whining and fighting with one another about who had touched the other and who’s seat it was. As we neared the top of the hill my travel mug went flying across the passenger seat and I reached down to retrieve it in the middle of my argument. A few choice words thrown in, in my shock at the new mess of the morning. As I sat straight in my seat once more we passed over the hills peak and in a flash of blonde ponytail and running clothes suddenly the car jerked at impact, I slammed at the brake but it was too late. She was already flying through the air.
***
Maci’s curls bounced in the morning light as she glided among the fresh, dewy grass. She reminded me so much of her mother, Sara. Up the road came Kristen , from the direction of the small town market. It was her usual route for her morning jog and she always said hi on her way by. I had seen her around town many times before. Athletic, blonde, green eyed, simply beautiful. I didn’t know much about her except what I had heard around town but I had always wanted to know more. The memory of Sara was the only thing holding me back. Maci gurgled and cooed as Kristen jogged by and she flashed a dazzling smile and hello as she went by. I called back something about how she was with a sigh as she jogged away. One day I would get up the courage to really talk to her, I would. I looked back at Maci as she ran after a butterfly in the garden and smiled. My peace was shortly interrupted, seconds later, by the screaming of tires being yanked to a stop by their brakes. They came from the direction Kristen had been headed. I whipped my head around to see a white Ford Explorer stopped at the crest of the hill where Kristen usually crossed the road. She was not there and then suddenly her body hit the pavement, twisted and contorted, 20 yards away. She was unconscious, her angelic face aimed straight at Maci. Even in her innocent toddler mind she knew the terror of the event and her chase of the butterfly ended. My world reeled for a second until a scream erupted from the Explorer as a teenage girl fell out the side door and began a shocked stumble towards the unmoving Kristen. My brain kicked in then. I rushed after the girl pressing her back to the car and into the arms of the shaking driver, who I assumed to be her father. With Maci locked in the yard by the small white picket fence, I ran to Kristen. She was bloody, blacked out and barely breathing. Yet, her heart beat just faintly and as my eyes misted my heart also soared. I yelled at the man to call 911. He stumbled into the car, fumbling for what I assumed to be a cell phone. I didn’t want to move her, afraid of the damage I would do, so I cradled one broken hand in mine and stared intently at the soft face of the beautiful woman. If and when she woke up I would no longer wait to talk to her, no longer wait to ask her to coffee, not after this. As I made this resolution to myself the sun rose higher from the hill and the sound of sirens distantly broke the morning air. Her breaths became deeper, and slowly Kristen opened her eyes.





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