Catching Butterflies

January 23, 2010
When I was five, I practically lived outdoors. I was awed by the majestic trees laden with glossy green leaves. I often chased butterflies back and forth on the three acres of land that I lived on. Unfortunately, the butterflies were always able to evade my attempts at catching them with my bare hands.

One day, after seeing Chris and Martin on Zoboomafoo attract hummingbirds with sugar water, I got an idea. I thought it over for a bit, then went to find Ethan.

“Ethan!” I called loudly, my voice echoing through the house. “C’mere! I’ve got an idea!”

Ethan emerged form his room, and said, “What?”

“Hey, you remember when Chris ‘n Martin got hummingbirds to come to them with sugar water?” I paused, waiting for his head to cautiously nod. Then I continued. “Well, I think that we could do the same thing, except to get butterflies.”

“Ariana.” Ethan looked at me incredulously. “Humming birds aren’t butterflies. It’s not gonna work.”

“Yeah, it will,” I responded. “Butterflies like nectar, right? Sugar water is the same as nectar, except that we make it. They’re both sweet, so the butterflies will come.”

Ethan thought about it for a minute, then nodded. “I guess so.”

I smiled triumphantly, then started to run to the kitchen. “Come on!” I called over my shoulder.

Once I reached the kitchen, I grabbed the first bowl that I saw: a medium-size metal bowl. I set it on the kitchen table, and ordered my brother to get the sack of sugar.

“How much sugar should I put in?” Ethan asked.

“I don’t know,” I admitted reluctantly. “How about a handful.” He put a handful of sugar into the bowl. “Hmm, maybe a little more.”

“Is that enough?” Ethan asked, setting down the bag of sugar. “The bag’s heavy.”

I peered at the mountain of sugar in the bowl. “I guess that half a bowl of sugar will be fine.” I filled the bowl with water, and stirred it, while Ethan put the sack of sugar back. When I got tired of stirring the mixture, I put the spoon in the sink, and carried the bowl upstairs. Ethan tagged along behind me.

“Uh, Ariana,” he said. “Why are you taking it upstairs? Shouldn’t it be outside? That’s where all the butterflies are.”

Uh, no,” I replied, concentrating on not spilling too much sugar water on the floor. “I want this in my room, so when I wake up in the morning, there’ll be butterflies.” Having reached my room, I walked around before deciding to put the bowl of sugar water in between my window and the old steamer trunk, so that my mom wouldn’t see it.

“Ariana! Ethan! Come down here!” Mom called from downstairs. “I’ll give you a nickel for every ten screws that you pick up! The construction workers left lots of them outside today.”

“Coming!” I called, as Ethan and I rushed down the stairs.

After a few days, the butterfly experiment had faded from my mind; I no longer checked the bowl in the morning for butterflies. I was outside, picking up some more screws the workmen had left outside, when I heard my mom scream. I rushed into the house, just in time to see Mom run down the stairs.

“Mom,” I said, concerned. “Are you okay?”

“Ariana,” my mom said, breathing heavily. “Did you know that you have a water moccasin in your room?”

“What?” I exclaimed, shocked and scared out of my wits. Snakes could bite and kill you! “Mom, how long has it been there? Can you get it out? How’d you know that it was there?”

My mom slowly explained how she had found the snake: while catching a phone call in my room, out of the corner of her eyes, she saw a snake halfway underneath the bed. Hastily hanging up the phone, Mom rushed out the door, slammed it closed, and stuffed a towel under the door.

When my dad came home, my mom made him go upstairs with her, both equipped with hoes, floodlights, and a trashcan. Ethan and I followed behind them; however, when they realized we were following them, Dad made us go back downstairs to wait. He turned on Cartoon Network for us, then went back upstairs. Cartoon Network was not able to keep our attention. I was so scared that one of my parents was going to get bitten by the snake and die. Suddenly, I heard a thump. “Hey, did you hear that?” I asked Ethan. He nodded. Then we heard another thump. We looked at each other. Thump-thump-thump-thump-THUD.

“Oh, I wonder what’s going on,” I said worriedly. “I hope that Mom and Dad are okay.”

“We should go up there and help them!” Ethan exclaimed.

“They specifically told us not-” I broke off as a series of increasingly louder thumps and thuds emanated from my room.

“C’mon, Ariana! They might need our help, they may even die if we don’t help them!” Ethan said urgently.

I thought about it for a second, then said, “Okay. But let’s get a weapon or something.”

“Like what?” Ethan asked.

“Like a…” I trailed off, as I heard a BOOM. “Like a brick. Or a knife!”

“Yeah! Let’s go get the butcher knife!” Ethan exclaimed, running off to get a chair.

Then we heard a door upstairs opening, and footsteps of two people coming down the hall.

“Quick!” I hissed, “Put the chair away!”

My mom and dad came into view with a trashcan and the two hoes. Curious, Ethan and I ran towards the trashcan.

“Can we see, Dad? Please?” Ethan and I begged.

“Sure,” my dad said, putting the trashcan down. “The water moccasin is dead.”

I inched near the trashcan before daring to look down. The cottonmouth was chopped up into three separate pieces, and each piece was moving around. The mouth opened up and closed a few times. Horrified, I drew back.

“Are you sure that it’s dead? It’s still moving,” I said.

“Well,” my mom spoke up, “it’s complicated, but the water moccasin doesn’t really know that it’s dead yet.”

I thought about that for a second, before saying, “Oh.”

After Ethan and I had looked at the black water moccasin for about five minutes, my parents took it outside, and put it in the fire pit. They set it on fire, and we stood around the fire pit, just watching.

“Why do you think that the water moccasin was in my room, Mom?” I asked suddenly. “Will any more come?”

“I don’t know why it was in your room, Ariana,” my mom replied.

“I do!” Ethan spoke up. “It must have been attracted to the sugar water in your room!”

“Sugar water?” Mom asked quizzically. “Why in the world would sugar water be in your room?”

“Well,” I said, looking down at my feet, “I saw Chris and Martin attract hummingbirds with sugar water, and I thought that butterflies would come too…”





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