|A beautiful butterfly, golden white with a dazzling display of slowly flapping wings fluttered over to Ana and landed softly on her pale arm. Ana smiled at it, silently sharing her bliss. The wings of the butterfly shone as it moved them up and down in a beating rhythm, trying to find a comfortable position on Ana. It finally came to rest right above where the dark, crimson blood was slowly flowing from her veins. The butterfly's long tongue-like tube, its proboscis, unrolled from its coil to dip into the rich, warm flow. As it drank, silently lapping up the bodily liquid, Ana started to drift. As the butterfly drank, it began to take on a more reddish hue. After a minute, its scales had changed completely to glisten a deep, ruby-red. Suddenly, the butterfly stopped its drinking, and with a heavy beat of its wings, launched itself off of Ana as she looked on in dismay. It circled wildly, flying further and further away, blood dripping in speckles from its wings as it started to loose its jewel-like tinge, fading in brilliance.
"No," Ana cried out to it, grasping the air with her hand. "Don't leave me." She started to cry, tears contouring the shadows of her thin, hollowed face as the insect spiraled away and away, finally only a small white speck in the nothingness surrounding. "Don't leave me," Ana whispered. "Sera, don't leave..."
Ana found herself sitting on her floor, no butterfly in sight, with her cat Touya rubbing her soft gray head against Ana's leg over and over, serving as Ana's awakener.
"Oye, Touya...why did you wake me?" Ana asked her as she gently stroked the warm fur on Touya's back. Touya purred contently, a marble-like rumble in her throat as she slithered underneath Ana's raised legs. She came to Ana's other side, and with a slight crouch and a hop she jumped up onto Ana's lap. She started to lick Ana's arm before Ana remembered to tuck it out of the way. "No no, Touya," she remonstrated, touching the tip of Touya's pinkish gray, slightly wet nose. Touya ignored her and licked her outstretched finger with a small, raspy tongue.
Today, Ana had tried a mix of broken glass and purple nail polish. The nail polish, unlike other chemicals, didn't really cause much pain or swelling or anything, but it was still nice since the color would get stuck along the gashes and she would have multicolored sores for a while. It'll be a new trend, she joked to herself. Rainbow hued wounds.
I feel so much better now, she thought. It's wrong, what people think; it's just one of those things that seem weird until you try them yourself. Earlier, she had felt like she always did when she got upset; it was as if the world was caving in around her, and everywhere she tried to turn she would trip over another lost dream, or worse, another lost soul. It was how she always felt like everything was going wrong, that she was a colorless nothing that would soon fade like a fake tattoo into the blankness of dead, timeless space. Afterwards, though, her breathing slowed down. She would see the tiny rainbows that etched her being when she looked in the mirror; she would feel the life in her remaining blood. She would feel the sting of slashed flesh, and realize there was something left to feel.
After a minute, she picked up her snow-white terry cloth hand towel from the floor. She clutched it loosely and rubbed her arm, watching that side of the towel become a mottled pink, like the splotches of a baby's skin a minute after its birth. She scrubbed a little harder to make sure it was all clean, then put the towel down and stroked Touya's fur, which, once striped, was now simply smoky looking due to old age.
She put away the nail polish and hid the glass with her other stash of goodies and placed her Elf Power cd into her cd player. As the earthy melodies wafted around her head, she danced lightly, twirling and gliding and fluttering through her room. Touya watched her from her position on the floor, lazily licking one fuzzy paw with her eyelids half shut. The grayish brown floor swirled along with her as Ana kept her eyes down, watching her pale white feet as they slid over each other and around her room. Going over to her bed with the faded blue-flower patterned mattress, she pulled her blankie off of it, a now off-white remainder of her toddler years. Stretching it over her back and extending her arms, she flapped, pretending to be a butterfly like the one in her dreams. Standing in front of the mirror, through, she saw that she was too dreary, too drab to be a butterfly. With the exception of the bright red and purple slashes now running down her right arm, she was mostly colorless and indistinguishable. Some butterfly, she thought with a sigh. I'm only a moth.
"Ana, Sera's here to see you," her mother yelled up to her, cacophonous voice clashing with the melodic notes shivering themselves from Ana's speakers. Ana caught her breath. Sera was here? Sera hadn't spoken to her for almost a month. She had tried to apologize, to explain, but Sera didn't understand. Couldn't understand. Ana paused, then called down,
"Tell her she can come up." A few seconds later, she heard Sera's customary tread as she ascended Ana's gray-blue stairs, and she could even hear the grasping sound of Sera's hand as it gripped the polished wooden banister. Ana turned away from the door, not even sure how to look at Sera. She heard Sera come into her room and stand behind her.
"Turn around, Ana, and look at me," she said. Ana examined every nuance of the words Sera had spoken. They didn't sound too angry or cold, she decided, but she didn't get her hopes up. She slowly turned around and stared into Sera's bright green eyes that were earnestly trying to look into her own.
"Ana," she said softly, looking down at her intertwined hands, finger tips meticulously painted the color of a hummingbird's throat, "I'm...sorry." She looked up at Ana. Ana tilted her head, trying to figure her out. She picked up Touya and cradled her against her stomach. She wound a strand of her chocolate colored hair around her thin left pointer finger, hesitating, unsure. Sera seemed to take this, however, as a sign of rejection, because she cried out,
"I miss you," and wrapped her arms around Ana, warm and soft. Ana hugged her back, surprised. Touya squirmed out from in between them. Sera's cheek rested on her shoulder, and her honey-brown hair curled around Ana's chest. Ana longed to stroke it.
"You're not mad anymore?" She ventured, daring to lightly caress Sera's rosy, freckled, upturned face. Her hand lingered tenderly on the soft skin of Sera’s jawbone . Her freckles always reminded Ana of sprinkled cinnamon. Ana's eyes widened in surprise as she felt something warm and wet drip onto the back of her neck. Sera was crying; Sera never cried. Never.
"I can't stay mad at you," Sera said frankly. "I love you."
"But do you forgive me for lying to you about it? I tried to stop, I really did. But I couldn't, and I still haven't," Ana said sadly, pulling away from Sera and holding out her arm as evidence. Sera reached out a finger and outlined the reddish marks with the tip of her finger, sending chills down Ana's spine.
"It'll be different this time. I'll help you stop," Sera told her, her lips and nose slightly red from crying, the way they always looked when she got upset. The reddish hue of her face complimented her lime-green sweater and gold butterfly necklace, the one Ana had given her for her last birthday. Ana always thought Sera was beautiful, but now, even as she was upset, she looked to Ana like an absolute angel. She looked like truth radiated from her in an encompassing glow. Ana realized that she herself had started to silently cry. As warm salty tears gathered on her dark lashes, she looked down through them at Sera and said,
"But how will it work? You're like a butterfly. I'll always be this-" she said, gesturing to herself sadly, "-...a moth." Sera smiled and put her arms around Ana again. As she leaned in to kiss Ana's full, pinkened lips, she whispered to her,
"Ana, I love you...in this world of butterflies, it always takes courage to be a moth." Ana smiled, and they embraced, colorful and colorless joining as one.