by Amy Goodenough
The butterflies that she had met in her previous life had whispered stories of an unimaginable peace, of a chance at something new. They surrounded her with their love, the susurrus promising that if she would just let go, things would be better.
They promised her that they were just like her – that they too had suffered, trapped in their soft caterpillar bodies, always afraid of the predator circling. They told her that if she didn’t take the risk, she would never be free.
They knew the predator had tricked her, told her she wasn’t like the others, that she was not destined to be a butterfly. He’d convinced her she was too ugly, too ungainly; too weak. Her dreams of flying, confessed to him in the dark of night, were his plaything. He promised her that he loved her, that only he knew what was best for her. He told her she made him angry when she didn’t listen to him, that she just needed to try harder and then he could treat her better. He told her not to listen to the others. They had warned her to stay away from him but – see – they were wrong. He would never hurt her; he was just keeping her safe.
She believed him.
Then, one day, he hurt her again. This time it had been too much, she couldn’t ignore it anymore, she decided that even if she did deserve it, she needed to get away. She placed her trust in the promises of her sisters. She began to build her cocoon, she made a hard shell around herself, one that even he couldn’t penetrate. She took one last breath as a caterpillar, whispered goodbye to her old life, and let herself dissipate, melt into herself and rest.