Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2273795-Flight-of-the-Butterfly
Rated: E · Prose · Nature · #2273795
A contemplative nature walk.
         The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
         This line echoes in my mind as I plunge into the fragrant underbrush, intent on exploration. I cannot recall which poem I have plucked it from, but it describes the foliage well. Deep green leaves seem to beckon, dense buckthorn and tall birches sway as I duck and weave further, deeper.
         Your labored footsteps echo as you follow me into the ethereal forest. Shadows draw near as the waning sunlight filters through heart-shaped leaves. Branches pluck and pick at my clothing. I must move forward. I cannot stop. My breath quickens to match my pace as I bend beneath a low-slung vine.
         To stop means to face the truth.
         The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
         I laugh to myself as I clamber over a large half-rotten tree that blocks the path. I wonder briefly at what mighty wind or storm might have brought it down as I continue to wander.
         You hadn’t wanted to stop the car, hadn’t wanted to join me here in the dank dark.
         You dislike the wildness.
         I crave it.
         “There might be hidden treasure,” I had joked, flashing you my sweetest, falsest smile. “One must nurture the inner child,” I persisted, until you gave up the fight. I knew there was nothing truly to be found here, no treasure but damp bark and loam and moss-covered logs. There might even be butterflies or birds, and oh, how I love the birds.
         I breathe in the heady scent of the forest, elated, excited. Beneath our feet musty leaves and small stones mingle with soil that formed long before we even existed. This alone fascinates me. I am drawn to this place, this moment in time. I cannot resist it.
         And yet you are here, in my moment.
         You are still seeking your treasure.
         “Where are you? I can barely see in here,” you growl irritably.
         Should I answer? Or hide? Dare to open my lips and disturb the peaceful silence the trees and brush have offered me, this brief space in time when my heart can find a beat of rest…?
         To speak feels wrong.
         I fantasize that the earth has opened beneath my feet and I have fallen into an underground river that carries me far from here. What glorious, heady freedom that would give me.
         But the ground beneath me is solid. And too much freedom is not good for me. This much I know; I have tasted it enough to recall the bitterness. Oaks and maples, birches and aspens rustle softly with the breeze, and your voice carries my name along it.
         “Hey! Can we please get going?”
         You have never cared much for the outdoors, so my spur of the moment flight through the forest surely has your nerves singing.
I realize I have had it all backwards.
         I still seek my treasure.
         You are seeking me.
         The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
         A butterfly alights on my shoulder, twitching its delicate black antennae as it rests. My breath catches. I watch carefully, from the corner of my eye, so as not to disturb this small creature. Fiery orange and red streaks decorate the edges of its elegantly curved wings, reminding me of light in darkness.
         I am struck by the thought that perhaps the butterfly is gazing back at me, evaluating me. I wonder if it can see through to my soul. Can butterflies think? Does it even matter? I can still appreciate the wonder of its being.
         In that brief moment, two hearts - one miniscule, one human-sized - are connected.
         Your footsteps echo as I stare at this lovely creature, whose wings are so beautifully, finely crafted. You crash through the underbrush and find me there. The butterfly, disturbed by the noise or perhaps just your presence, takes leave of my shoulder and flutters off. Perhaps it will find another arm to rest upon.
         A desperate, empty ache fills me. I suddenly want to fall to my knees and weep with all my soul, with all the passion that burns within me. Tears threaten as I gaze upon the trees, each uniquely formed, bent by wind and rain and sun and storm, fashioned by the life it did not choose.
         Tall and strong, they merely survive.
         The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
         I realize as we gingerly pick our way back to the foot-worn path, over bark-stripped branches and rough-edged stones, that I don’t ever want to leave these woods.
         The infinite wildness has caught my heart, the mystery, the adventure and unfamiliarity that linger in the air and mingle with the musty, sweet scents of rain and earth and leaves.
         I love the nostalgia these scents bring. They tease my memory, tantalize me with fragments of my forgotten childhood, those thin strands within my mind that have been buried for so long I can no longer fully touch them.
         I can only come this close, take a deep breath, fill my lungs with that which brings me barely to the brink of remembrance.
There is love somewhere in those places, lost amid the passage of time. I sense it beneath the silent, unassuming leaves. I hear it, the faintest of echoes woven into the soft breeze. I feel it, as I duck and weave through bended branch and vine and bramble, like the lightest of kisses planted upon my soul.
         I long for it – for more – but it is gone, beyond my grasp. Time has stolen it from me.
         All that is left is the woods, these deep, darkly sweet-scented woods. All their haunted beauty and all my unmasked truth, the memory and the darkness, the depth and light, the sound and the silence.
         Like the butterfly, I must let go.
         I turn to you, to try to explain, as I have before.
         “Please. Just give me a few more moments.”
         “You know there are ticks out here. Probably mountain lions too. This little nature walk is so...unbecoming.” you mutter coldly beneath your breath. I realize that you are more concerned with dirtying your shoes than my reasons. You want a perfected image of me, and the quiet, refined path that you have chosen for me.
         Nothing else will suit you.
         But as for me…
         The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.


Author's Note: I am aware that "The woods are lovely, dark and deep" is a quote from Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." But for the sake of the story, I made it a detail the character brushes off as irrelevant to their circumstance.
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