A Tale of Two Butterflies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story based on two of the four famous Chinese love folktales, One of them was about Chinese Valentine's Day on 7th Aug this year (7th July in Lunar calendar). Another one was like a Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet. None of them talked about sword, however. It was one of my favorites that I chose to start my story with, so did my wish at the end.
Note: This story also included in The Imaginarium House Summer 2019 Collection.

Submitted: August 04, 2019

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Submitted: August 04, 2019

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A Tale of Two Butterflies

It was a late summer, the sun had passed above my head and moved toward the west, but it was still as fierce as a beast. Standing under the canopy of trees, I was sweating hard with heavy wheeze from the routing practice that started at dawn.

"The power of a sword doesn't depend on how sharp the blade is, but on how gentle it is used." My master's deep voice rang in my ears. 

He waved his left hand, a cold breeze drifted into my chest. I looked down and saw the tip of a silver blade pierced through my shirt and cut into my skin. The blood seeped through the shirt like a red flowery vignette. 

"A bit more push of my index finger, it could have impaled your heart. But you could also see its coming and defended yourself, and I might lose the chance to win. Gentle is the key. Now get yourself together and ready for the second round. Len! Are you ready?" He looked at his another apprentice, who was senior and taller than me, and beckoned him to start another duel with me.

Len looked at my left chest that was seeped with blood and was still having heavy breath due to anger or fear. "Maybe another day. Master. Jack needs a rest." 

I thought my master would not accept this kind of wimpy request. But to my surprise, he nodded his head and strode briskly deep into the woods. The corners of his eyes lifted slightly, it was a rare expression of his ever-gray poker face. It meant he smiled. And I had impressed him.

Len came to me and patted my back with his both hands which ended in a hug on my shoulder. "Your sword fighting has improved tremendously since you joined. You have a great potential to surpass me."

I felt my face flushed. I wiped my forehead to cover up my unease or embarrassment both from his compliment and from his touch. 

"Thank you. Len. I shall go back to my cottage now. See you two days later, same place?"

"Of course! Any time."

I turned and headed home. Len did not follow, as he knew he could not win the argument with me as to why I would not let him know where I lived. "I would quit. If you follow" worked well on him and my master who they seemed to be fond of me. 

I sauntered through the woods in different routes back to my house. As I didn’t want to leave any trace and I loved to explore. I took my time to enjoy the beauty of my surrendering as I moved along. A strange tingling feeling ached in me when I recalled the touch from Len. 

Going outside of my well-guarded family house was not easy, you had to find a way to break through the bars like a prisoner. Today I was Jack, the young servant of my family. Reportedly out for an errand and would be back by dusk. 

After I backed home, I put down a bunch of branches I collected from the woods at the kitchen and gave my mistress the herbs she wanted for tea. I went back to my room to clean myself up. The cut wasn't deep, but it surly hurt. While I was standing in front of the mirror and applying some ointment, my name was called. By my formidable Mom. 

"Jade! Had you been out again? A man called Len came looking for 'Jack'! He said Jack was injured and he wanted to know if he is okay. Do you know him? And who is Jack?" 

My Mom was coming toward my room with turbulent air followed in her wake. It was her usual demeanor each time when she found I played mischief. I was barely dressed up when the door was slammed open. My Mom standing by the doorway waiting for my answer, same did a man standing three yards behind her whose name was Len! 

"I..., why..." I grabbed my cloth and dashed into the corner of my room where my bed was and pulled up the curtain along it and put on the dress that I usually wore while at home. Any attempt to disguise was too late. 

"You are a girl, Jack! What is happening? Have I been practicing swordsmanship with a girl in all those past year of time? Jack, ur..Jade?" 

"I...I...didn't. Didn't I tell you not to follow me...why...?" 

"Well, that is enough! No more explanation from both of you! And no more going out and pretending you are a man! Jade!" My Mom pushed Len, who was trying to step into my room, out of the doorway and slammed the door shut. 

Outside, a desperate call was heard. Inside, a hopeless heart started to wail. A lock was clicked. My fate was sealed. 

"You are going to marry Mr. Bobber, the son of Mayor, in next week. He has been coming to see me on that for several times and yesterday I received his last sum of money to wed you. You have better to keep yourself clean."

"No!" I banged the door hard and long with my grazing fists. 

The only answers I received were Len's desperate call of my name and his protest that echoed in the air. 

I hoped both of our "No!"s could join together and become a long silver sword. That we could wield shoulder to shoulder together to break the customary feudality and stupidity—Where only boys were allowed to learn, girls were men's properties, and only class-matching couples were allowed to wed.

But the blade of this sword was not sharp enough and it was not gently wielded. 

Len came to plead my Mom for serval times and expressed his love for me and his intention to be with me for life. But each plead was turned out to be void. It was ridiculed and ruined. Everything just because he wasn't my matching in wealth and repute. 

Three days later, I heard no more of his desperate calls. In the next following warm summer nights, I heard his lonely wails instead. 

Until the day before my wedding day, I heard only pure silence. 

I knew he was gone. He wielded his sword inward to seek for freedom from agony. 

Next day, Mr. Bobber came to claim me to be his official wife. While on the way to my new home in a luxury parade, I saw a tombstone that was engraved with Len's name. I jumped out of the sedan and ran toward Len's grave and lay prone. My tears poured down in a torrent. I wailed as if I was just born or worse before my death. 

Suddenly the ground shook itself open. I saw Len was there and welcome me, "Don't be afraid. Ready?" That was what he usually said to me when we were practicing sword fight. I didn't know in the past year of time, our friendship had grown into something solid, something no one could break. I knew clearly what that strange tingling feeling was now. 

I jumped into the hole where he lay, with my beautiful wedding gown. I found him and I knew we would not be separated again. Soon after, the ground shook and started to close up and buried us in. Inside his grave our hearts merged into one and our loves and strengths were forged into a sword. With it we broke the ground, broke the bound. 

Inside the ground, our bodies were lying in peace; up above the air, we were flying with grace. 

---

Some people who witnessed this reported that they saw two beautiful butterflies materialized from the hole where our bodies lay. No matter where they went, they always flew as a pair. 

Our story on that day was passed down the generations as one of Valentine's Day's folktales in the Eastern countries. That day was on a warm summer night, the first quarter of the moon in August. On that day, if you see a pair of butterflies, don't forget to say Hello to me and him. I will wish you a very Happy Valentine's Day.


© Copyright 2019 Derina Penn. All rights reserved.

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