Barrage of Butterflies


“Can you please help me,” a boy pleads. His freckled face and strawberry blond hair is obscured under a heavy chain. He’s wearing a dirty robe, the one on which little blue dinosaurs and spotted lizards were once printed. It was his favorite robe; Aunt Barb got it for him on his eighth birthday. Now it hangs tattered on his skin, the friendly scaly beasts masked in thick mud, sweat, and urine.

In the child’s beautiful, sparkling eyes one could see a life full of love and elation, of days spent at the beach, flashing a smile with fists deep in sand, and nights curled on the couch watching Sleeping Beauty until he rested at last. But the scars told a different story. They told of sleepless weeks in unforgiving darkness, abandoned in a quarry of revulsion and isolation. They told of unimaginable horror.

Every night, he prays for release from his captor. All he wants is to get back home to bury his puppy, Angel, who was struck by a speeding Corvette. He wants to kiss his momma, promising that he would never think bad thoughts about his baby sister. His stomach rolls, and his tongue aches for a simple drop of water.

The boy’s weakened innocent cries turn to cold whispers. “I just wanna go home,” he begs. “Just wanna…” He cannot make out the words. His own body defies him as he’s plagued with memories of his daddy and barbeques and Christmas presents.

Succumbing to exhaustion and sadness, the boy curls on the ice-licked floor and imagines he’s in his momma’s warm embrace. He imagines he’s sipping from a cold glass of apple cider and eating popcorn, hidden under an enchanted palace of pillows. Sweet honey, gummy bears, and cinnamon breezes occupy his homesick dreams.

Suddenly, the tears and hollow whimpers cease. His chapped, bloody lips form a thin smile, with thick dust and stale air filling his lungs. Color returns to his face as he is met with an old friend.

Together, he and Angel walk out of the basement and disappear into the night.

Aiding and Abetting

I didn’t give my parents time to react before I was already out the door.

For a while I have been feeling lost and alone in this tormenting life I live, but nobody seems to notice or care that I’m suffering. It only took my noticing Jason flirting with Shawn to send me into an escapable void of sorrow and hopelessness. Jason and I almost reached our one-year anniversary until I realized he was gay.

Afterward, nothing seemed to go well in every facet of my life: I flunked out of the 12th grade; my best friend Cal killed himself; I was fired at my job at the Dairy Queen, and I became familiar with oxycodone. My one friend, the only one who could truly relieve me of my pain, was a broken Green Day CD. And even that escape was temporary. I needed a distraction.

Tears chap my face as I speed down Pierson Road, the glowing needle of my silver 1995-model Ford Mustang passes 95mph like it was a vat of hot shit. Thoughts of crashing into the stalled pickup in the right lane or those of a police car hidden behind the “Now Leaving Graybach” sign do not cross my mind; all I want to do is get away.

My eyes flick to my rearview mirror, though, when I notice a truck quickly approach my back. Who the hell would be driving 110mph at seven o’clock in the evening, besides me? “Goddamn speeding motherfuckers better not get me pulled over just ‘cause they’re trying to get to a sleazy hotel to fuck some bitch in record time,” I mutter inaudibly against a blaring radio.

Then the fucker clips my bumper, sending yesterday’s cup of coffee into the floorboard.

“Whoa! What the fuck are you doing?” I inquire the dark vehicle in the mirror.

Then a little voice resonates from my back floorboard. “Don’t stop. Please,” it pleads.

Part of me wants to scream in terror that there is a fucking child somewhere in my backseat, but my oxy haze keeps me in the clouds. “Who’s back there?” Could it be George, the young kid next door? The voice was small enough to sound like him. But then again, George is fourteen.

I’m so out of it right now.

After repositioning the mirror, I make out a short body in the back. Using the evanescent light from the street lamps and back lights of cars I’m passing, I see a dirty mess of blond hair and an innocent face. “Just don’t stop. You can’t. I can’t go back there.”

I wipe the last of my tears on my sleeve. “How did you…”

The boy interrupts, “Just don’t let him take me, okay?” With another street lamp, his bruises become clearer; he’s got a black eye and a dark mark across his neck like he’d been strangled.

“You’ve got to give me more than that, kid.”

He whimpers as the truck rams my Mustang once more, forcing me to slow down to a manageable speed. Part of me hopes that it would play out like a movie and the truck would go speeding past me, unable to slow down as quickly as I have. Things are never that simple, though.

Suddenly, a bullet whizzes through my back window, striking the dashboard. An influx of freezing air flows into my car.

I know what I have to do now. “Get in the front, kid! Be careful around the glass,” I say, taking his hand and pulling him into the passenger’s side seat. His figure is perfectly visible now: he’s dressed in a torn green-and-red-striped Abercrombie t-shirt and blue cargo shorts; his muddy cream face is sunken in and his body is gaunt and weak. I imagine that he was a cute boy at one point.

A pair of innocent, blue eyes blinks at me. “You look a lot like my sister; she was pretty, too,” observes the boy, completely unfathomed by the shooting maniac behind us.

I flash him a grin, reach over his skeletal frame, open the passenger door, and push him out onto the street. This satisfied the raging lunatic, and I pick up my speed once again – losing sight of the boy and his captor.

“Fucking oxycodone,” I say, laughing. “You can’t trick me with these ridiculous hallucinations. I know what’s real.”

It’s not until I reach a shoddy motel that I realize that I will need to stop by a mechanic soon to fix the bullet hole in my window. I wouldn’t want the snow to ruin the Mustang’s upholstery.

Rinse and Repeat

Pulsing surges of virulent passion clinch my soul. My body swells with sparkling foam, overwhelming my senses with jubilation and fervor. I can’t keep from groaning as my eyes roll back as the sensation causes every inch of my being to quiver. Places on my body to which I never have given a second thought tremble under the control of an erotic carnival ride.

Suddenly, images of my husband return to me. Memories of our blind date and my thoughts of love at first sight invade my head like a cynical film strip. Every second is another image, illustrating the security and compassion I felt every time he wrapped his strong arms around me. The warped picture show concludes with a flash of me collapsing at his funeral.

The carousel of recollection ends with a final DING. A pair of familiar misty gray eyes peer back at me, and suddenly the crying returns. Before he left my side, he blessed me with his spitting image in the form of a son. I can’t face the little guy without falling to the floor with regret and sorrow, but he needs his mommy. Only, mommy needs a few more days to lament before she loses her mind and does something she’ll regret.

With that in mind I rotate the knob and press start, restarting the washing cycle. I figure one more round before dinner won’t hurt.