A Butterfly Jar

January 10, 2013
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When I was young, I would go outside to catch the butterflies. So tiny, so beautiful, they were perfection in a jar. But as I grew older, my antics ceased to be cute and my parents told me I should be chasing boys instead like all the other girls. I did as they said, but I kept my butterfly jar.

For the longest time, I wondered why they didn’t want me chasing butterflies. Didn’t they see how such a tiny thing could be significant?

Someone once told me that butterflies were the spirits of children, gone before their time. What else could be as beautiful as it is fleeting? I loved the spirit-children with a passion. But I knew I couldn't keep them forever.

And so I watched as my jar collected dust, for years and years, until I couldn’t stand it and I hid the reminder away.

I found it today, as I was packing up my room. It was buried in a box of teddy bears. The coat of dust barely cleared when I swiped my finger against it. Instead of throwing it away, I found myself washing it out.

And now I’m outside, but all the butterflies are dead and gone. Every single butterfly I ever caught-vanished. The thought brought sudden tears as I sat in the grass. How many times had I run around this yard, carefully trying to capture them? Trying not to crush them or tear their powdered wings? Too many to count.

A breeze caresses my face, and the jar in my hands burns. I set it on the grass in front of me.

I put my childhood in that little jar. And now it was empty. Empty. I cover my face in shame.

The light is fading fast, and I know I have to get back inside and finish packing, but I can’t bring myself to stir from my spot on the ground. Breathe. In, out. Again. I was being melodramatic, acting like a kid. I force my hands from my face.

But there it is. Standing delicately and wondrously on the lid of the jar—a butterfly.

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