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Rescuing the White Butterfly
Rayna quirked her shoulder as she read a short novel. Her nineteen-year-old, youthful face gazed underneath the faded sunlight of a winter day. Snow fell in floating heaps, reminding her of puffy marshmallows.
“Rayna! Get up from your seat and go do something!”
Rayna flipped another page of her book with a lazy glance.
Why do mothers have to nag? I want to read, not do chores. Sure, I should clean my parakeet’s cage…he smells…but...I can do it later. I have all day. No reason to rush—
“Rayna! Are you listening to me?”
Rayna dug deeper into her velvet comfy chair.
“Not particularly, Mother.”
“Don’t you back-sass me! I’m serious! There are other things you can be doing right now! Like cleaning up the mess in your room! Last week’s laundry is still on the floor! Go and hang it up!”
Rayna glared at her mother.
I so want to just call her out…she is so contradictory…where does that bubbly fat from around her hips and on her breasts come from? Why, laziness! How she loves to take naps and sleep! I swear she can sleep all day…of course, she does work 55 hours a week…but that’s not the point! That stupid fair face…so deceiving with her sweet smile and bright green eyes….I wish I could scalp bright, maroon scars across that face of hers…the kind you find on my own arms from picking old bumps and zits…as well as…the shining silver---
“Fine, Mother. Fine.”
Rayna scuffed quietly as she closed the book and slowly got up from her seat.
“Oooo! How I hate that tone of yours!”
Rayna watched as her mother’s face squinted into wrinkles like a rolled-up hamster.
So sensitive…so immature…just like a whining baby…
Rayna pushed her book into place on the tall bookshelf.
Jane Austen…my favorite.
“Gosh darn it, Rayna! Are you even listening to me?!”
Rayna’s soft hand fell to her side in silent solitude.
Not really, Mother. I tuned you out moments ago. There is nothing important to even consider for a moment in that dull, uneducated brain of yours—
“Don’t you have some grocery shopping to do, Mother?”
Rayna felt her mother’s anger beginning to rise behind her.
“Yes, but I expect things to be done when I get back! I better not find you just sitting here in the study room, reading your book again! Do you hear me?”
Rayna strolled into the kitchen, beginning to stack some dishes into the dishwasher.
“Is there something wrong, Rayna? You’re usually not like this unless...”
“Unless what, Mom? No, there is nothing wrong. You do your duties and get the groceries…and I will do mine.”
“Come on. What’s wrong, Rayna?”
Rayna’s head started to hurt as her mother’s overly-emotional aura began to suffocate her.
“Mother, please, there is nothing wrong. Just go.”
Rayna’s body went stiff as her mother’s green eyes peered closer.
“Are you sure?”
“Mother! Can you stop asking questions?! Go and get the groceries!”
Her mother took one more analytical glance and then pulled away.
“Fine. If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine. Again, I expect things to be done when I get back, which will be about an hour or so. Love ya!”
Rayna’s eyes mentally rolled as her mother plastered a kiss on Rayna’s cheek.
“Love you too, Mom.”
“May God bless your day!”
Keys jangled and the front door opened.
“May He bless your day as well, Mother!”
Rayna’s jaw clenched.
The door slammed to a close.
Yes! Silence! The wonderful silence of being alone…but then…why did I get so angry? Making old mistakes….again…stupid me…
The last dish clunked into the dishwasher.
I still feel frustration in my heart and body…Damn it! My stupid bitterness…but then Mother got all whiny…why am I the only one trying to become something better? She should too…and stop saying things that she doesn’t do herself…she is so contradictory! So immature! So-so whiny! And why can’t she leave me alone? Why does she need to know everything? It is annoying! Just back off and stop using sharp words to get my emotions out! She is so manipulative and loves to argue! Man, she is so frustrating!!!
The dishwasher buzzed as Rayna pushed the racks in and closed the dishwasher’s door.
Swirling, chaotic water….yes….that is how I always feel…Oh, Lord, just cleanse me of my selfishness…cleanse my whole family! Release me from this stupid anger and bitterness I have!
Rayna shifted her feet, breaking her solitude; she looked back at the quiet and dark study room.
Hmm…Mom said she be about an hour or so…I might just have enough time to--
She reached into the dark room, bringing her hand to the top bookshelf.
Hmm…Maybe I shouldn’t…maybe I should actually follow Mom’s commands…but-but—
She pulled the Jane Austen book out; already gathered dust sprawled everywhere.
I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. Just one page…
“Rayna! Why are sitting in that darn chair again! Did you get everything done like I told you to?!”
Rayna smirked, flipping another page.
“Go and see. Dishwasher is done and put away. Clothes are hung. Blue is clean.”
Rayna’s mother leaned over a corner of the study room to check Blue the parakeet’s cage; the puff-ball just sat there, looking at her curiously.
“Hmmm....fine. I won’t bother you anymore, but I wish you would get out.”
“It’s winter, Mom, too cold to go anywhere. Plus, there is nothing to do around here.”
Rayna sadly looked at the bottom of her book’s page.
Plus, I really do not have any friends to hang with. Sure, I have my Facebook buddies but they live in different countries. Plus, I never really small talk with them. It’s all about inspiring each other with Bible verses and prayer requests, nothing more than that. Gosh, how I miss Kate---
“How I wish I knew what you were thinking, Rayna.”
Rayna’s mother looked at Rayna with an observing yet sad gaze.
“Don’t worry about it, Mom. I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine.”
“Don’t look fine? Well, must be my tiredness. Didn’t sleep well last night.”
“You can’t fool me, Rayna. I know something is wrong. You always get sassy at me when you are frustrated or depressed. Remember, I am your mother, I know things.”
Do you? Really? Because, sorry to break it to ya, Mom, but you never finished college---
“I know, Mom. Thanks for being concerned, but I am fine.”
An awkward silence floated between the two women, almost like an invisible barrier of mist.
The snow stopped.
Rayna closed her book with a loud bang.
“I think I will go outside.”
“Alright. Dinner will be ready in about an hour or so. Dad should be home by then. Remember to wear heavy clothes. It’s chilly out there.”
“Alright, Mom. Thanks.”
Rayna placed the book back into the bookshelf and strolled to her bedroom. Silver, cardboard stars hung from her white walls along with various posters of different bands and movies. A couple of Bible verses were written in black paint across the wall corners and a steel cross hung above her red, canopy bed.
Such a quiet room…yet lonely and disoriented…
Rayna softly ran her fingers across the purple, leather-binding of her Bible and then held it close to her chest like a soft teddy-bear.
Lord…what am I to do? I can neither be good nor tamed…I know you accept people for who they are…and forgive our sins…I just can’t help feeling worthless and damned…I am lost…please help me…in Jesus Christ’s name…Amen.
Rayna laid the Bible back onto her silky, bed covers.
No matter how hard I try…I am still bitter…still angry…still vain…still mean…using my mother as a punching bag…why do I still have this angry depression? Lord, why? Please…please just take this from me…this heavy burden…break down my walls! Do whatever you need to do! As long as I am set free from these sins, from this bitterness! In Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.
Rayna peeked through her window, pushing down the dusty white blinds; she watched as the sun glowed behind a gray haze of thin cloud.
I know You are there, Lord. Please do not be mad at me. Please hear me. I know You are there, Lord. Have mercy on me for what I have done…to myself…and to others, like my Mom…like Kate…
Rayna gazed at the floating marshmallows.
Peace…like the soft snow…yes, peace, Lord is what I urge for…
Rayna clutched her elbows as she slid her boots across the wide expanse of snow. She felt lost in the white abyss with the dead trees resembling malicious, tree demons. The winds had stopped and time seemed to have come to a moment’s pause behind the stilled, hazy sun.
This silence…this damned, stilled silence…where is the wind? I need something…something to distract me…I don’t want to think….I-I don’t even want to pray…I just want these emotions…this emptiness…to go away.
Rayna wiped the frosty sweat off her face.
Still somewhat sweaty…I wonder if Mom even noticed…I had only five minutes…five minutes…
A flash of Rayna running back and forth to do her assigned chores came across her mind.
It is amazing how I can lose track of time when I am reading….ouch!
A thorn cat-scratched the side of Rayna’s arm.
She pulled the thorn from her skin.
Rayna slipped on an unexpected piece of ice that was buried beneath a layer of snow. She landed in the thorn-bush, head first. Thorns pierced the sides of her face and her arms.
She tried to pull her face back, but her flesh tugged with the thorns painfully.
She yanked one of her arms and watched as a small drop of blood paint the snowy ground.
She grabbed her arm painfully.
She yanked the other arm and another drop of blood painted the snowy floor.
Rayna clutched her bleeding arms.
Man!!! Damn, this hurts! Who knew thorns can be so painful! Why did Mother have to grow roses in the spring….especially thorn roses?
She placed her hands on a thorn-less branch in front of her.
Alright, take a deep breath and pull.
Rayna pushed the branch down and flung her head backwards.
Rayna tumbled quickly out of the bush and into a pile of snow. Blood dripped from her face like small rubies. Her misty breath danced in the air.
Damn bush! Man that hurt! The blood…this…this…
Rayna dipped her half-gloved finger into one of the rubies.
Reminds me of the silver…the shining silver…the precious shining silver…
Rayna’s turquoise eyes stared, entranced by the glistening drop of ruby.
So beautiful…my life-force dripping one by one…my life fading away…fading…fading…
The ruby drop splashed onto a strange sight.
A butterfly cocoon?!? What’s it doing here?
She picked up the smooth, sticky oval curiously.
Interesting…but the caterpillar inside is probably dead. The air is too cold and its winter.
Rayna placed the cocoon back into the snow, but hesitated as she felt a slight shiver…almost a movement within the sticky enclosure.
It can’t be. How could a cocoon still be alive? Surely—
Rayna’s mouth gaped slightly as she watched the cocoon shiver more vigorously.
---I-I should get it inside, before the cold kills it.
Rayna gathered the sticky cocoon in her scarf, holding the cocoon like a small kitten. She quickly swished through the snow as the winds began to pick up. Floating marshmallows began to fall from the sky once again.
Her cuts on her skin stung with frost as the winds began to swirl chaotically like a white-out whirlpool.
Where did this storm come from? I was only out here for a few minutes and everything was calm then--ah!
Rayna stumbled over as a strong wind pushed her to the ground.
Damn this weather!
Rayna tried to stand up, but was knocked over by another wind.
Lord! What is going on?!? Are You mad at me? What did I do? I already confessed my sins—
Another wind pushed her onto her back as she remembered watching pornographic videos last week and using her finger for ‘playtime’ with herself.
I’m sorry about that! Damn me! I am so weak! So-so worthless!
A memory of a silver knife flashed across her mind.
No! Please, not that!
Rayna fearfully got up and searched her scarf.
Where’s the cocoon? No, no, it can’t die!
Rayna searched the snow for the white cocoon as the floating marshmallows blurred around her.
The wind howled in her face, blowing back her chocolate hair.
“You are worthless!” “I want to kill that s*** of a girl! She is always hurting me!” No, no not again! Not these memories! I-I don’t want to hear them again! Please, Lord!
The wind beat against her body, making her slightly stumble.
“I am disappointed in you, Rayna.” “Do you think God would be pleased with your stupid actions!?! No!” “Na-na-na! Rayna is a loner! Rayna is a loner!” “Man, look at her hair. Such a fuzz-ball.” “Goody-two-shoes!” “Liar, faker, poser!”
Rayna’s eyes began to shine with tears as she desperately searched for the cocoon.
“Ooo! How I hate that tone of yours!” “Why is it always my fault? You are always blaming me!”
“You are a mean b****!” “How could you? How could you have lied to me, Rayna?” “You are no friend of mine!” “She doesn’t do anything fun. She is worthless.” “She is always thinking of herself before others!”
Rayna’s throat crunched as she gave out a small, shivering cry.
“Yes, I deserve this…”
She watched the blood drops fall from her face and arms, imagining the silver knife she had cut across her pale skin before.
Rayna kneeled in the snow, hopeless and shrieking cries loudly.
Oh, please cocoon! Don’t die on me!
--Mom, please! Get a hot rag or something! The cocoon is still alive, but I don’t know how much longer it will last. Please, get a rag or something warm!”
“Cocoon? Why is your face bleeding—
--Mom, please! Just get a rag!”
Rayna breathed heavily as she watched her mother disappear into the laundry room. She glanced at the cocoon in her scarf. The cocoon was still now, no longer moving.
Oh, please don’t die on me little buddy.
“Here you go, Rayna.”
Rayna’s mother appeared with a blue cloth and Rayna wrapped the cocoon inside it.
“So, are you going to tell me what happened to your face? And look at your arms, Rayna! They are torn! What did you do?”
“I fell into the thorn-bush…”
Rayna’s eyes stared intently at the cocoon.
It still feels cold…I need something warmer. OH! My heat blanket! That should work!
Rayna was about to run, but—
“Ah-ah-ah! Boots and snow-pants off, please!”
Rayna rolled her eyes.
---no, buts! Take off your boots now!”
Rayna growled at her mother as she quickly kicked off her boots and unclipped her snow-pants. Her wet chocolate hair splattered another coat of water onto her back. She balanced the cocoon with the cloth clenched in her teeth like a stork clenching a baby in its beak with a piece of cotton.
Please don’t die on me, little cocoon!
Rayna slid into her bedroom and plugged in her electric blanket.
Here, you go, little buddy. Nice and warm.
Rayna carefully laid the cocoon on her blanket while still keeping the blue cloth wrapped around it; Rayna’s mother watched from the door curiously and silently.
Please, Lord, please! Let the butterfly survive! I know it is such a little thing, but its life is precious to me! Please, Lord, please let it survive!
Rayna bowed her head, praying and shaking harshly.
Come on…come on…
Rayna touched her shaking finger to the cocoon, searching for a sign…a movement, a shiver, anything.
Come on. Don’t die on me.
Rayna’s finger shook even more.
No movement came and Rayna’s finger slid down the cocoon slowly.
Rayna banged her hands on the floor; tears began to stream.
Damn you, foolish girl! Damn you!
Rayna threw her pillow in rage and kicked over her computer chair. She banged her head against her spongy bed and let her knees buckle to the floor. Tears helplessly and slowly streamed down her face like a smooth river. She felt frozen…numb…dead…
Rayna’s mother laid a coach blanket on Rayna’s shoulders.
“Tell me, what is wrong, Rayna?”
Rayna’s head slowly fell onto her mother’s fat shoulder.
“I-I killed another life, Mother…”
“You mean the cocoon? Honey, it is winter. A butterfly cannot survive this weather. You did not kill it. The weather did.”
“No-no don’t you see? I killed the cocoon. Everything I touch dies or gets hurt. I-I hurt you with my words. I hurt Dad with my bad actions. I hurt God with my sins. I killed my best friend---
“Now, you know that was accident, darling, what happened to Kate—
“But she wouldn’t have left my house if I didn’t get into a fight with her! If I had kept my mouth shut, she would have stayed and slept-over. She would have not left and got killed by that drunk driver! Damn myself! I am only chaos!”
“Now, stop saying that! You are not—
“Yes I am. I-I have watched porn, Mom! I-I-I have masturbated! I have lied! I have been prideful! I have committed almost every sin! I deserve every punishment of Hell! I am only chaos, evil! I push people away! And I killed the cocoon! The weather did not kill it!”
“You-you’ve watched porn?”
“See your face of disgust! Yes, I deserve it! I deserve it! I deserve these cuts on my face and arms! I deserve to be dead!”
Rayna stomped into the kitchen.
“Come back here, Rayna!”
Rayna pulled out one of the drawers, drawing out a kitchen knife.
“Ray-Rayna what are you doing?!? Put the knife down!”
Rayna pointed the hilt of the knife towards her mother.
“Go ahead, Mother. Kill me. Relinquish yourself of pain! Relinquish yourself from this burden. Go ahead, kill me! I will only bring death if you keep me alive!”
Rayna’s mother puffed up like Blue when he was cold.
“Now, you put that knife down, Rayna Diane. Or-or I’ll kick your ass! You put that knife down, right now!”
Rayna’s hand shook in hesitation for a moment. Then, the knife clattered to the kitchen floor. Her knees gave out again; mixed blood and tears splattered to the floor.
It’s all my fault…it’s all my fault. Everything is my fault.
Rayna curled up her knees as her mother sat down beside her.
“Oh, my poor Daughter…you have suffered with this for too long…you know, I am not mad at you. You know that I love you and that Kate was an accident.”
“But-but I have sinned against you all so greatly…”
“Yes, but we all are sinners. I forgive you. God forgives you—
“No! He doesn’t! The winds howled harshly outside like He was mad at me. I know He is mad at me. I have sinned greatly! There is no forgiveness for me. None! I am worthless---
“Oh, shut up, and listen, hun! You’ve been going through this for years! I don’t mean to be harsh, but stop giving excuses! He forgives you, love! He does! Christ wouldn’t have died for nothing!”
---no, buts, love. Just hear His love. Hear it in His Word I know you know so greatly. Listen now, can you hear the soft breeze? Can you see the soft snow? The storm has died. He knows your sins, but He forgives you. He wants your heart to hear that…not your mind…that He forgives you…that you are set free in His Son, Jesus Christ.”
“He died for others, not for me.”
“Stop hurting yourself, love! Stop listening to those lies of Satan!”
“I don’t deserve His love, Mother! I don’t deserve it! I am not good enough!”
Rayna’s eyes flared in broken sad rage.
“Of course, you don’t deserve it! I don’t even deserve it! I had sex before marriage, remember? Remember when I used to smoke? I have sinned a lot in my life as well, yet He still forgives me! Though we never deserved His sacrifice or His love, He still went to that cross! We can never change that! The blood price for all of our sins has already been paid! We are saved through the grace and mercy of Christ, not by our own works!”
Rayna watched as the winds and floating marshmallows stopped.
“No! No! I don’t deserve His love!”
Rayna marched into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her and locking it.
“Rayna! Let me in!”
“No! Leave me alone! I need to be alone!”
“Stop running, my daughter! You are only hurting yourself! Please, let me in! You better not be cutting yourself!”
Running?!? Running…I’m running…
Rayna plopped to the floor, leaning against her bed as she watched the gray clouds slowly move across the sky.
How? How could You die for me?!? I deserve everything, every burning of Hell, every flame…how can You love me? Just damn me! Damn me!
“Rayna, stop running! Open the door---
---Rayna, stop running.
Rayna closed her ears, tuning out her mother’s yells and banging.
Empty…dead…only hurting myself…running…running…
Rayna’s body went numb.
Running…running…Lord, please forgive me….
A tear fell down and splattered on her hand…..her body fell….
Dead…dead…I was trying to free myself by my own works, my own control…I hurt myself….I have destroyed myself…
Her eyes plopped in amazement as a white butterfly softly landed on her hand in the tear puddle.
Listen…listen, my beloved…stop doubting and believe…stop giving excuses…be still…be still…
A stream of sunlight slowly beamed into the bedroom, lighting up the butterfly’s wings.
Listen…remember the winds…and the thorns…remember everything…and give all of it to me…learn…listen…listen to your heart…listen…
Rayna’s eyes flashed with guilty and scared memories of lust, sin, fear, pain, hurt, everything of her past…everything she had committed…her heart began to ache and pound…
Forgive me, Lord, of my sins…I-I-
--Be still, my beloved. I have already heard your repentance, my beloved. Listen even more closely…remember the storm…
Rayna remembered her heavy breath, the tossing of her body with the wind, and her hands clutching the cocoon so tightly in her scarf…trying to protect it.
Rayna looked at the sun, feeling its mysterious warmth.
Yes, my beloved…listen….stop doubting and listen…
Rayna looked back down at the butterfly, imagining the butterfly to be her.
This butterfly….is me….?
Yes, my daughter. Like you protected this butterfly from the storm, so will I protect you. The Devil throws his lies and tricks, making you stumble, but I will always be there to pick you up and bring you back to life with my forgiveness and love…like this butterfly in the winter. Do not be afraid, my beloved. Come to me, trust in me, and I will always be with you. I am not mad at you, nor disappointed. I love you. I died for you. Your sins are forgiven through My body and blood.
The white butterfly landed on Rayna’s lips.
You are forgiven, my daughter. I love you. Believe in me because I believe in you, my beloved. You are not worthless. You are precious to me. You are my diamond in the rough. You are good enough through your faith in me, in my Son.
Rayna’s breath stilled.
Lord, I believe…I surrender all…
The butterfly lifted from her lips and flew into the sunlight. Rayna felt a heavy burden lift off her shoulders, almost like a rock being lifted with the butterfly’s flight. The sunlight disappeared behind a gray cloud and she found the butterfly gone.
Where did the butterfly go? Wh-what just happened?
“Rayna! Open this darn door!”
Rayna lied on her bed with her purple Bible close to her chest. It was morning and her parents were already off to work. She watched her cardboard stars dance along the walls as a cool breeze floated from her bedroom window.
It is unusually warm today…still somewhat chilly, but warm like autumn…
She turned to her side, watching the puffy clouds shape-shift across the blue sky.
Everything that happened yesterday…was it real? I told Mother everything and she was amazed as well as my Dad…but was I just hallucinating? Was I going insane? But-but it seemed so real…that quiet whisper…even though I did doubt at first…and the disappearance of the butterfly? How did that happen? How did it even survive? The windows were all closed…so I could see no rational escape…not anything was rational in this situation anyways…especially that butterfly surviving and disappearing into the sun. How could a cocoon survive in mid-winter, really?
Rayna sighed as she opened her Bible.
A piece of drawing paper fell out, picturing an old childhood drawing of hers.
A-a white butterfly? WHAT THE HECK!?!
Rayna gazed at the picture in amazement.
This can’t just be a coincidence…none of this…not the butterfly…not the storm…not the whisper…not the picture…yes, call me a fool…but it was God. It was. All of it.
Rayna’s face went numb in shock and wonder.
“No matter how hard I try…I am still bitter…still angry…still vain…still mean…using my mother as a punching bag…why do I still have this angry depression? Lord, why? Please…please just take this from me…this heavy burden…break down my walls! Do whatever you need to do! As long as I am set free from these sins, from this bitterness! In Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” My prayer from yesterday….Man, Lord, you are ironic! You work in marvelous and unusual ways! Truly, You are wondrous and mysterious!
Rayna held her Bible and the drawing against her chest. A peace overwhelmed her. She smiled at the bright sun and shape-shifting clouds.
To this day, after that saying, she swore she saw in the sun…a white butterfly smiling back at her and saying in a quiet whisper:
You’re welcome, my beloved.
“‘Come now, and let us reason together.’
Says the Lord,
‘Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”
~Isaiah 1: 18~ (NKJV)