Follow the Butterflies
2“I heard you got in trouble again,” Sadie said.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal.” We were out in the yard during exercise period. The yard was basically an acre of grass, flowers, benches, and swings (they were supposed to be for the younger kids, but everyone liked the swings) enclosed by all the buildings of Pennington Psychiatric Hospital.
“I’ve heard all our floor’s doctors were brought into it. And you gotta go to another therapy session,” Sadie said in her spacey way.
“Yeah, yeah.” We sat down in the grass and picked at flowers. We were silent for a few minutes, watching some young kids playing tag in the field. One of the kids stopped when he saw us, and then came over.
“Hey, Jimmy,” I said as he grew closer. He smiled and waved enthusiastically.
Jimmy is a very distant relative of Sadie, like, third cousin removed. I like him, and so does Sadie (she kind of has too; they’re family) but sometimes he’s a little weird. He’s autistic, like most of the kids on our floor. But not me or Sadie. The doctors are still trying to figure us out, I guess.
“Hey Avery! Hey Sadie!” Jimmy said. “Wanna come play?” Spit dribbled out of his mouth. Sadie wiped it away affectionately.
“Sure, honey. What are you playing?”
“We were playing tag,” he said, “But Bradley and Harris want to play spy, and Kayla didn’t want to play boy games, so she and Gracie are picking flowers or something girly like that.” Jimmy put his hands on his hips and looked at us expectantly.
“Yeah, we’ll play with you,” I said. Sadie and I stood up and brushed the grass and dirt from our white uniform skirts.
“Okay then…” Jimmy backed up slowly. “Come and get me!” He took off full speed towards the field. We ran after him, but slow enough for him to stay a good ways ahead. “You can’t catch me!” His words were burbled with his laughter and the natural slur he had. Of course we could’ve caught him, but it was fun to see him so happy. Soon enough we chased him around the field and out, so he headed towards the swings and garden.
The garden wasn’t much more than a few flower patches and a couple of benches. By one of the flower patches were Kayla and Gracie, making flower wreaths. Gracie is our age, sixteen, and Kayla just about two years younger.
“Hiya Kayla! Hiya Gracie!” Sadie called as we ran by. Gracie waved hello, but Kayla didn’t seem to hear us. She went right on picking flowers, stuffing some of them in her shoe.
Sadie stopped short, and I had to skid my shoes on the grass to avoid slamming into her. “Sadie, why’d you stop?” I asked, but she doesn’t answer. She stared off at a patch of flowers. I followed her eyes. A butterfly was flying around the flowers. It was a different sort of butterfly, though. The wings were a bright bubble-gum pink with blue spots. Jimmy, too, came and marveled at it with us. A few other butterflies joined the pink and blue one, and they flew around the flowers, seeming to dance.
Sadie and I walked closer, watching the butterflies. I was amazed by the pink and blue one, but Sadie stared at all of them in fascination. Jimmy eventually got bored and wandered away.
We watched them for a long while; long enough eventually we just sat down on the ground and stared at them going from flower to flower, petal to petal, but never touching. Suddenly the wind picked up and the butterflies flew away with the wind. Sadie jumped up and ran after them.
“Sadie, where are you going?” I called after her, still sitting in the grass.
“The butterflies, Avery! Follow the butterflies,” she said dreamily. I watched my best friend in wonder as she skipped after the beautiful winged creatures.