Butterfly Collector, short story by Jacob Greb at Spillwords.com
Tabitha Turner

Butterfly Collector

Butterfly Collector

written by: Jacob Greb


The butterflies scatter my room. On the wall. On the ceiling. Above me. Beside me. Suspended off the strings. Taped to the walls. Telling a story of fairyland, beauty, chaos, and spirit. The rainbow of butterflies with a quiet rustle as I sit beneath it all, trying to fall asleep. I am, however, rather meditating on the moment. Not quite a reflection on why did I check myself into a mental treatment centre out of my own will? A month has passed and I’m not sure if the treatment is helping. If anything, I have progressed in reaching the goal of making a thousand butterflies. That’s the set goal for the month. I’m nearly there, only seven hundred and three left to cut out, fold, colour, decorate, and stash into drawers, hang, or pin to the wall. Maybe it’s madness, but it’s magical to be encased by the winged brightness. It’s my home. The chrysalis and I’m the caterpillar awaiting to emerge to its winged beauty. To be free and fly the distance of my journey.

My mother hated the metamorphosis and used to shout as soon as she entered my room at home. She would yell something about destroying her walls. Her beautiful walls and all I did was blemish them with nonsense. Her words. Her shouts.

My uncle, on the other hand, used to catch the butterflies like a hunt for a treasure. His hands idled above the net, trembling lightly, like a mist on a sunny day. Diametric. Is that the word? But, it was a play, nothing more. He didn’t capture them for research or amusement, but rather to bond. He used to say that butterflies crave companionship, that they are social creatures and bond easily with humans. My uncle studied them in books for pure interest but whether what he said was true, I would never know, but I believed it nonetheless. The thought did bring me joy. It still does. To build a connection with such luminescence. So, here stems the birth of my obsession.

Butterflies. Butterflies. And the floating flowers, all symmetrically folded from paper, scattered across the floor. The food for the butterflies and landmines to trap an intruder. No easy access to enter my room unless you fly. No one could pass my trap. They either screamed or became startled by the obstacle course. It’s ridiculous, I know but it has worked multiple times, especially on my mother and my uncle. My mom would yell. The craziness. What has possessed me? She would ask. What has made me shrivel and cry? And my uncle, ever since the flowers, has stopped coming into my room, especially for the late-night visits. Among the mess, I was finally free.

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