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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Goodbye, Butterfly: A strange dream

Bre Goodwin

I find I have the ability to communicate telepathically with butterflies. Understandably, I incorporate this newfound skill into my everyday life, learning to coax butterflies into helping me commit nonviolent but threatening crimes of a highly lucrative nature. Before long, I’m the top pacifistic crime boss in my area. 

How, you might ask, does one rob a bank or hold up a liquor store with nothing but butterflies? 

Remember the first “Jurassic Park” sequel? It’s the one where Jeff Goldblum is not only a hot scientist, but a hot dad, too. In one of the film’s scariest scenes, a guy is attacked by a flock of teeny, tiny dinosaurs. Is it ‘flock’ or ‘herd’ when describing a group of dinosaurs? Regardless, this guy is bum rushed by a shit ton of baby dinos, which it turns out is way worse than one Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Picture like 25 sets of razor-sharp teeth, all tearing into your fleshy and supine body at the same time. Well, although it would certainly be more painful, that experience would not be dissimilar to one where hundreds of butterflies crawl around your arms, legs and face, their insectoid legs stepping in and out of your pores, their brightly colored wings turning you into a Klimt painting.

At the mere suggestion of asphyxiation by papillons, folks are inclined to give me whatever I want.

You know how they say when a butterfly flaps its wings in your backyard, it has the potential to cause a hurricane in Japan? Or something like that? That adage is rendered true by butterflies’ brute strength. Butterflies are so fucking mighty, they can lift me up and fly me through the sky over town. My butterflies literally sweep me off of my feet, reminiscent of a cluster of ants lifting a cracker crumb. 

Point is, I’ve got an awesome, Leidopterian crime family, and I decide I should introduce them to my biological family, maybe even my closest friends. I decided to host an elegant dinner party at my place, a classic haunted mansion with revitalized wooden flooring and antique, velvet-covered furniture.

I’m sitting on my prized possession, a chaise longue that doubles as a pull-out bed. When in standard long chair form, you’d never guess it’s also a cot in which to crash when I’m too wasted to climb stairs.

After aperitifs but before dinner, I’m going to show my guests the topiary garden/butterfly habitat behind my house.

Unfortunately, I’m hot-blooded yet cold-natured, and I don’t notice how uncomfortably hot my present company seems to be. Unseen by me, a perpetually sweaty buddy of mine cracks a latticed window. In through the window’s small gap flies a sparkly purple butterfly, with glimmering, almost galactic wings.

The purple butterfly first lands on my knee, then flutters onto my fingertips as I extend my left hand. Before I can speak, the butterfly begins to convulse, her wings drooping as her body twitches.

Like that one scene in “Alien,” not to mention its parody in SpaceBalls, the butterfly’s thorax bursts open, giving way to a pair of smaller butterflies, one blue and one red, neither very dazzling.

“Babies!” shouts a friend of my sister’s, a girl I’ve met but didn’t personally invite. “She’s had babies!”

But rather than the oft-referred-to miracle of life, the butterfly’s display seemed to me one of disturbing yuckiness, for lack of a better word. Suddenly, I was struck with an ineradicable feeling of disgust.

Years ago, when I was a mudpie-making kid, I covered my left forearm in slugs. I’m talking fat, slimy and slightly speckled slugs. For a few minutes, I let the slugs hang tight, suctioning and squirming slowly about. Growing bored, I approached my next-door neighbor’s porch, a picturesque one, red brick with a sturdy swinging bench. 

My neighbor was sitting on her porch swing. Extending a grubby arm, I showed her the slugs stuck to it, saying something along the lines of like, “Look at these slugs!” Much to the repulsion of my neighbor, who then said something to the effect of, “Gross!”

The realization that the land mollusks might’ve appeared icky hadn’t dawned on me until just then. Up until that moment, they were little friends, perfectly fine to make themselves at-home on my dirt-caked arm. Taking a clue from my neighbor’s reaction, I suddenly backtracked and began to view the slugs as undesirable. I mean, you can’t go around picking bugs out from underneath rocks. Doing so isn’t socially acceptable, and it’s not a productive use of time. There’s really no telling what I was thinking.

Springing into corrective action, I quickly shook the slugs off of me. They landed noiselessly in a patch of monkey grass, left to fend for themselves, find a new cozy rock under which to snuggle or shrivel up and die in a sunbeam.

Much like I did back then with the slugs, I now shake the butterflies off my hand. Weak and wispy, the two smaller butterflies float gracefully onto the carpeted floor like falling leaves. The purple one, apparently unbothered by her recent thoracic explosion, shakily steadies herself in midair, then stops to rest on a lacquered coffee table, lazily extending and distending her wingspan as though anchored underwater.

My friend, the one who’d cracked open the window, rolls up a regretfully unpursued “New Yorker” magazine and smashes the purple butterfly where it rests. He flattens and flips the magazine, revealing a smattering of shimmering purple pigment, tinged with the unmistakable greenish color of bug guts.

An uncomfortable silence threatens to smother the room. Dumbfounded, I rip my eyes away from the butterfly’s remains. “Why would you do that?” I asked my friend. “Man, what gave you the idea to do that?”

“You gave me the idea,” he replies. “I saw the look in your eyes when that thing split open, started pulsating all weird. You didn’t want that butterfly anywhere near you. For chrissake, this whole place is full of butterflies. You won’t miss one.”

I can’t so much as begin to respond; I’m overcome by a wave of remorse, caught up in some confusion but primarily guilt. 

And I’ve gotta say, I’ve had my share of cryptic dreams, but this has been the weirdest I’ve slept through in a long time.

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About the Contributors
Mary-Stella Mangina
Mary-Stella Mangina, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Mary-Stella is a junior majoring in both Professional Management and French for Commerce.
Bre Goodwin
Bre Goodwin, Former Lead Graphic Designer

Bre Goodwin is a junior majoring in Cinematic Arts & Theatre with a concentration in Acting. As a graphic designer for the Flor-Ala, she is passionate about art and the ways it can heal individuals and unite communities. She is from Leighton, Ala.

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