A Red Butterfly

June 15, 2013
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Adam Jennings was out of breath. He panted and panted. The stitch in his side stubbornly refused to fade. He rested against a gnarly oak tree, one of the many that inhabited this forest.
They would soon catch up to him. Big Rudy and his gang of the toughest seniors in Layton would not spare him this time. He simply had gone too far by chucking his football at Rudy’s forehead. It eventually landed on Rudy’s brand new car and instantly cracked the windshield. Adam, being the wise person he was, followed this incident with a smart-alecky comment and was now being hunted by Rudy’s bloodthirsty pack.
The smacking of footsteps on the damp forest floor grew louder and Adam was on his feet immediately. He ripped through a cluster of bushes and found himself in a clearing. “Great, this is where I go down…” thought Adam.
Suddenly, a girl nimbly and quietly stepped out from behind an elm tree. She had limp blond hair to her waist. A slender girl, probably eighteen or so. She wore a rumpled blue blouse with a short white skirt. Curiously, she had a small red butterfly tattoo on her wrist. And her eyes... one was a pleasant hazel color and the other was deep blue with a tinge of purple. Both sparkled brighter than then morning dew in the surrounding forest.
“Who are you?” Adam asked. The girl’s eyes widened at the question.
She stared at Adam for a few moments and finally beckoned to him. Adam, in no position to question, followed the girl to a small opening in the nearby shrubs that he would never have noticed if the girl had not led him to it. She put a finger to her pale pink lips and gestured for him to climb into the hole. Adam did so. The girl, however, did not follow.
“What are you doing?” Adam furtively whispered. “Get inside!” Adam was sure Rudy and his friends would not spare an attractive girl alone in the woods. The girl did not respond, and since muffled noises of boots told Adam they had arrived, he did not speak further.
Adam waited as the rough voices discussed the possible forms of punishment he would suffer when they found him. He hoped with all his might the girl had adequately hid herself. Yet, they did not seem to have noticed the girl. Soon, the voices faded and Adam stepped out of his hiding place.
The girl was sitting near the same elm tree from which she had emerged. Adam guessed she had been out of sight from Rudy and his friends.
“Why didn’t you hide in there with me?” Adam questioned. The girl shrugged.
“Who are you?”
The girl finally answered. “My name is Brooke. Brooke Collins.” Her voice was soft but clear.
Adam sat down next to her in the soggy dirt. She slightly scooted away from him. Adam didn’t mind. It wasn’t the first time a girl had done that.
“What are you doing here?”
Brooke did not reply. Adam got the feeling she would only answer questions that did not trouble her.
“What’s your name?” asked Brooke to Adam’s surprise.
“I’m Adam. I’m a senior at Layton High School,” Adam said. “Are you from around here? I haven’t seen you before.”
“I’m new to this town. I moved here from Clandor. It’s several miles away.”
Again, the why-are-you-here question struck Adam but he stifled it. Brooke did not say more but just gazed at her hands. Adam also sat quietly.
A small roly-poly skittered near Brooke’s foot. Instead of shrieking like most girls Adam knew, she calmly moved her foot away from the insect. The roly-poly changed direction and crawled to Adam’s foot where a gnat sat. The gnat slowly scuttled towards its prey. Brooke made a move to rescue the roly-poly but refrained from doing so when her hand neared Adam’s foot. Adam, noticing this dilemma, scooped up the roly-poly, away from the reach of the gnat.
Brooke looked at Adam surprised and her eyes changed to an almost hopeful expression. “Adam, I can I trust you?” she asked.
Adam was startled but nodded.
“I need to show you something,” Brooke said.
She smoothly rose and motioned for Adam to follow her once again. Adam also rose and was led by Brooke through a maze of greenery.
As Adam was following her, a tree root caught on his shoe and Adam stooped down to release himself. When he looked up, Brooke was gone. Sudden fear sprouted in Adam. He raced through the foliage.
“Brooke! Where are you? BROOKE!”
Adam at last arrived at a small spring, which bubbled merrily. He was just about to turn back when a shoelace under a large fallen tree limb caught his eye. Adam walked to the tree limb and hesitantly raised it.
Under the tree limb was a girl. A trickle of dried blood was visible on her temple. And on her wrist was a red butterfly tattoo.

“No it couldn’t be…” thought Adam. How could this have happened to Brooke so soon? He just had seen her! Adam heaved himself onto the ground and broke out in sobs. He cried and pounded the ground with his fists.

“Wake up, Brooke! Wake up…”
She did not stir.
Adam released his rage at the forest, striking nearby trees and tearing handfuls of leaves from them. He himself did not know why he was mourning the loss of a girl he had just met. Just the fact that this girl was gone tore at his heart.
Adam turned around and there was Brooke standing on the other side of the spring. At her feet was the inert body…of Brooke.

Adam went limp against the tree. No… there had to be some explanation. How could this be happening?
“Is that your twin sister?” Adam asked weakly.
“No,” Brooke replied gently.
Adam just sat there. Slowly, Brooke walked over to him and offered him her hand. When Adam raised his hand to grasp it, it passed through cleanly like air. Adam dropped his hand and just closed his eyes.
The voice of Brooke caused him to open them again.
“That’s me,” said Brooke, pointing to the body. “The tree limb crushed me and I fell unconscious immediately. Then, I’m here just looking down at myself. I’m still alive, but barely.”
“Why can I see you?” Adam croaked.
“I don’t know myself. For days, I have run to people, trying to get them to notice me and follow me to my body. No one saw me. When I first stepped out from behind the tree, you saw me. You were the only one who did. That itself told me you were special. But I still wanted to find out more about you. And I did. The way you completely lost yourself when you found my body. I knew you cared.”
Adam sat motionless.
“Save me Adam,” Brooke pleaded.
“I will,” Adam said. “Because I love you.”

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