Short Stories

Deep Down
(3351 words)
(708 words)
The Fellowship of Butterflies
(2650 words)
(1521 words)
Unusual Safari Sightings
(1171 words)


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The Fellowship of Butterflies

Clop, Clop, Clop, Eva could hear her high heels pounding on the sidewalk as she tried to maintain her composure. She made her way around the corner of Wilhelmstrasse onto Kaiser-Friedrich-Platz, next to the Hotel Nassauer Hof, to the nearest café. Grateful for a place to rest both her body and mind, she sat down at the first available table. The afternoon was bathed in warm sunlight that radiated a golden glow from high overhead, making it an altogether pleasant day. If only her mood had matched the optimistic weather everything would have been wonderful. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Eva had been trying to come to grips with a fierce and frightful turn of events all morning long. In the past twenty-four hours she was dumped by her boyfriend of three years, laid off from her job at a much-hyped internet start-up company. She had also been asked to find a new place to live by her roommates of the last five years. Life was falling in on all sides, and she had no idea how to make lemon aide when all her lemons seem to disappear like magic before her eyes.

An attractive waiter quickly took her order for a glass of wine. She had preferred a whiskey straight up but, considered midday was a bit too early for heavy drinking. It might make things worse than they already were, Wiesbaden is a smallish town, and someone might spot her drowning her sorrows. She knew she had to keep her head up, by tomorrow she would be searching for a new job. Just after the waiter returned with the wine, a beautiful blue and black butterfly landed on the edge of the chair across the table. Its graceful legs clung to the chair while its wings moved up and down, slowly and rhythmically. As the light fell on his wings, they began to shimmer like metallic dust. She watched them flicker for a few moments before unexpected changes began to occur.

Slowly, his four wings began to shrink, receding into his body, until, just in the area where the two wings overlapped, two arms emerged. At the same time, the two long black antennas receded slowly back into the head. The head itself grew larger and rounder. The thorax was contracting. It began to stretch upward until it began to look like a human throat. The four upper legs shrunk little by little until they disappeared into the thinning body. The abdomen grew and sprouted legs with small feet and tiny toes, which hung over the edge of the chair. A pale blue man, the size of a child’s toy, no more than six inches long, sat staring at her, with huge black eyes.

Unbelievable! It was the first thought that passed through her head. She looked over to the next table hoping to see similar reactions but, the couple was so engrossed in their conversation and they hadn’t noticed the blue man. Neither had anyone else. The bustling café continued it previous pace; the noise level didn’t vary a decibel. Even the waiter seemed oblivious. He hurriedly dropped off a glass of red wine, on his way to a neighboring table, with a large plate of Parma ham and melon and two glasses of Prinz Metternich Sekt.

They sat staring at each other for a long time; until finally the blue man opened his small mouth. "Hello Eva, my name is Paul." The voice was light and airy, almost enchanting. Startled, she looked around, somewhat self-consciously. The café patrons continued their discussions undisturbed. Turning back around, she glared at the creature opposite, a little unsure of her sanity. Once again, he spoke, " Don’t look so surprised. I am only here to cheer you up" Slowly she spoke, looking around furtively to make sure she wasn’t making a fool of herself, "How do you know I need cheering up?" "Well, who wouldn’t need cheering up, if they had just lost a job, boyfriend, and home in the last twenty-four hours." It was too much. Shocked by his knowledge, she couldn’t speak. Now she had lost it all, even her mind, or at least, that is what she was thinking to herself.

She wanted to get up and run, but her feet wouldn’t move with her thoughts. Her whole body felt paralyzed. He knew exactly what she was thinking; and before she could move or speak he said, "Don’t run away I’m not going to hurt you and, you never know I might even help. Besides, the way I see it, you don’t have anything left to lose." She had to admit he was right even if she didn’t quiet know how he knew about her problems. She looked over into his dark glassy eyes and asked him just how he knew about her problems. "Oh, why does it matter" "I see and hear a lot of things, and besides it is easy to spot a person with a troubled mind". "How is that?" she asked. "Most people with problems walk around with their shoulders hunched over and their heads practically boring into the sidewalk. If that isn’t enough, they throw themselves into a chair like a sack of potatoes, with no regard whatsoever to the natural contour of the body and its posture. In fact, good posture, something that sends out positive signals to the world, could just as well be as difficult for people with domestic problems, as grappling with a foreign language in a foreign land."

At this she tried to sit up straight if only to put him at bay but, he was right good posture was like a foreign language, a great struggle. She slouched back into her comfortable but troubled state. "I thought you wanted to cheer me up?" she said while looking down into her lap. He remained quiet for a few minutes while he studied her features. Suddenly, without warning he spoke. " How would you like to forget your problems and escape to another life?" "If only that were possible," she heard herself saying. "Of course its possible, I’m here to help you." Without knowing why, she trusted him, and it took only a few moments for her to decide to follow him. Leaning across the table, she asked in a quietly hushed voice, "what do I have to do?" "Close your eyes and think about the beauty of butterflies and the nature of being one. In other words picture yourself as a beautiful, graceful full-bodied flying machine with large, shimmering wings. Let the nature of its beauty pierce your mind and enter into its realm of unconsciousness.

She closed her eyes, holding the exquisitely long glossy lashes tightly together, trying to image a butterfly. As she did, she could feel her heart beat a little faster and, her pulse throb violently around the wrist. She took a deep breath and noticed a tingling sensation in the top of her head, something pushing through her scalp. The feeling was not one of pain or discomfort, just an odd throbbing warm expansion of the body. It passed from her head to her back, and as it spread, she was forced to change position in the chair to accommodate some metamorphosis occurring down the spine. While she sat hunched over the table, she noticed paralysis had set in below the waist. Slowly the sense of her legs were replaced up above her waist, and her arms were shifted upward and outward while her throat lengthened itself replacing her chest and adjusting into a thin oblong frizzy sphere. Wings began to sprout from her new thorax. Four lightweight, powdery, shimmering metallic wings unfolded like Chinese fans, overlapping in the middle and dwarfing what had by now becoming a tiny body.

When she opened her eyes, she found herself on the seat of the chair but since shrinking she could no longer see the table top, only underneath to the chair opposite. With some effort, flapping her wings and trying to lift off from her spindly legs, she managed to maneuver her new body to the top of the table. There, still on the back of the opposite chair was her new companion, who was also, once again in butterfly nature.

She gazed around to see if anyone had taken notice of the miraculous transformation and, just when she thought no one had seen it, a small boy in the caviar shop across the courtyard caught her eye. He was standing with his faced pressed into the glass, as his mother made a purchase, watching a fairy tale unfold. Paul looked turned around to see the spectator but, both knew, no one would believe what he saw.

Turning back around to face Eva, Paul said in a low voice, "shall we go?" She nodded in agreement, but before they could go, she looked down to the table, with a show of doubt about whether she could manage the power of flight. "We’ll take it slowly at first until you get used to the wings and the currents," he said, as she looked up in anticipation. She moved slowly from side to side on her thin legs and began, with some effort to flap her massive blue and shiny black wings. Then as if by magic, she was airborne if only slightly. Laughing and the feeling of air passing over her body and through her wings he landed again on the table. Then they both flapped their wings and started off, Paul flawlessly and Eva a bit awkwardly at first. They sailed up onto a lazy current and followed it around the courtyard, gazing down at all the café patrons and window shoppers mingling around the outer edges of the courtyard.

Gliding over to the far corner of the square they floated down over the bubbling fountain lowering their graceful bodies just enough to dangle their tiny legs in the raising mist. For fun, they hovered over the heads of two young boys, as they tried to flick water onto each other unnoticed by their parents. Enchanted by the bright creatures they frolicked in a game of catch, only the boys never managed to catch Eva or Paul. When the children lost interest, the two took their leave, flying across the Wilhelmstrasse into the park that borders the casino, through the side street and into the Kurpark. Just as they passed the large open iron gates, the floral bouquet overpowered Eva so much that she had to fly back outside the gates. After taking a long, deep, breath she was able to enter the park again. But, the scent of roses, geraniums, and cherry blossoms all mixed was a new experience. With the long antennas attached to her head, she could make out not only the perfume of numerous fragrances mingled together but, also each distinctive note alone. The scent was so strong that she found herself floating head long into a large bed of red and white decorative flowering plants across from the park’s outdoor café. To the sound of laughter and clinking glasses and china, she unrolled her long thin tubular tongue to take a sip of life’s sweet nectar. Drop after drop of sugar liqueur made its way into her stomach and, she drank and drank moving from soft, lush rose petals to tiny yellow and purple crocus blooms. They were barely looking out of the ground until she felt as if she would burst. Paul was waiting on a cherry tree branch happy to watch the child-like abandon of a new butterfly in flight.

As the sun slipped down low on the horizon, a warm spring day drew to a close. They nestled high in a fragrant Nordic pine for the night. A warm wind rustled through the branches letting Eva drift off into a deep, black sleep as crickets chirped, and frogs strove to out do one another with their croaking in a nearby pond.

As morning broke, Eva and Paul sipped on fresh, cool nectar in the neck of a yellow lily. They moved from one flower to another until they became bloated with perfumed liquor, which nearly weighted their bodies down to the ground. It took a determined effort for Eva to flap her wings enough to ride the swift, winds that came at neatly placed intervals. On really strong gust sent her right back down to the ground. She struggled to pull her tiny head up, thrusting her shoulders back and once more was able to take flight.

After digesting the heady liquor, she was able to master the art of flight. She found herself, singing and laughing as never before. They spent the next six days racing from perch to perch. Buzzing and chasing each other, spiraling high in the sky only to drop in the wind and descend to the ground before pushing off to the nearest bunch of daisies or tulips.

On the seven days, she noticed Paul was a little slower. His wings didn’t flap as fast as hers and his hypnotic eyes were not longer as piercing as they had been. "What’s wrong, she asked him "Aren’t you feeling well."

"Oh, I’m fine, don’t worry about me," he replied. But worry she did. The whole day was spent perched on top of gladiolas and fragrant roses, which were opened up as a pillow made out of tissue paper. She could feel the velvety petals brush the sides of her face, as she plunged her head into the middle of the bloom. It was a place she could have spent a life time. The sunlight pierced layer upon layer of petals to create shades of blushing pink she never knew existed. Up above there was only blue sky as far as her tiny eye could see, with the occasional puff of white floating off into the distance. Despite the beauty above, she preferred to nestle her tiny body in a cocoon created by the fluffy, powder puff roses.

Paul’s death, later that day, intruded on the world of beauty she had come to inhabit without inhibition. As he struggled to keep his wings upright, he whispered with difficulty "meet me on the other side" and then he closed his eyes before he slipped from his perch and floated down into the pond. While the Koi took little notice of the intrusion into their realm, Eva was mesmerized by the fluorescent shades of blue and purple floating up from Paul’s exposed wing. As his lifeless body floated slowly around the pond, its beauty disappeared. The sparkling light evaporated, and Paul’s remains turned into an ugly moth right before her eyes.

As she slowly opened her eyes, she was aware of dark lashes blocking her view. Within minutes her eyes cleared, just as she began to hear the clanking of cutlery on china on her right. When she turned her sore neck toward the noise, she saw a blond women eagerly lifting a fork full of green salad toward her red lips. They parted, and the lettuce disappeared. Eva sat up straight, unsure how long she had been sitting there. Her Sekt glass was empty, and her Parma and cheese reduced to a few crumbles. Lying in the seat next to hers was an exquisite pink rose. She picked it up and held it to her nose, drawing in the sweat, calming scent. Feeling slightly tipsy, she stood up and walked away from the café. Once she reached the Goldgasse, her eye was struck by a shiny gold object in a jewelers atelier. When she stepped out of the shop back onto the cobblestone street, she pinned a diamond-encrusted butterfly brooch to her lapel. Sauntering off into the sunset, without warning she took a sharp right into the Grabenstrasse.

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