The Soldier and the Butterfly

I remember that the night sky was black velvet, and the bright, waxing moon smiled its Cheshire grin. The air was cool and crisp and the blushing autumn leaves flurried around our feet. We were sitting on a blanket, you and I, with a gently burning candle between us. I gazed into your face, illuminated by moonlight and the flame, and in that moment I saw the truth. You were the one. You broke my gaze fell backward onto the blanket, lacing your hands together behind your head. I crawled over to lie next to you. Your heart beat steadily and softly. My heart beat steadily and softly. I looked up at the sky, trying to see what you saw. You pointed one finger into the vast blackness. One finger at a tiny speck of light. You told me that the star was mine, that you were giving it to me. I looked at the ocean of specks, at my one single speck, my star, and suddenly it seemed to glow brighter, forever tattooed in my memory.

I remember when I heard the news. It was dinnertime and I sat alone at our table, your empty seat across from me and a candle gently burning between us. The windows were open and the crickets hummed a summer song. I pushed my mashed potatoes around my plate. The phone rang. I set the fork down. The phone rang again. I clicked the talk button. My heart beat faster. You?re convoy was blown up. You were wounded. You weren?t expected to live through the night. I fell to my knees and cried for you. I feel to my knees and cried for me. The candle flickered violently. I looked, and there was a butterfly. A pale-winged butterfly trapped in the inferno. It twirled and danced as its body was engulfed by the golden flames. Then the candle, along with the moon-winged butterfly became nothing more than charred wicks.

I want to remember you as you were, as we sit together on your hospital bed. You are here. You are alive. You are mine. But you are not you. Who are you, stranger? I look at your body, charred and crimson. I look at your face, at the lines etched into your sad, sad face. Who are you, stranger? There is a bandage around your arm, but there is no hand. I look at your eyes, and your eyes look at mine. Slowly, I take my finger and trace over your half-closed lid. Who are you, stranger? I lean into you, hesitantly, my head now resting on your chest. Your heart beats, my heart beats, but they do not beat together. I pull away and look out the window at the black velvet sky. I can no longer see my star, and you don?t point your finger at it to remind me which one it is. I wonder, as I stare at the constellations, if your soul, like the butterfly, burned in the flames.





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MaddieGr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm
I absolutely love the ending. It ties it up perfectly, and I always thing that's the hardest part of writing--finding an end.
 
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