A short piece about a failing relationship and the communication breakdown that ensues.

Death of a butterfly.

I guess I’d known it from the off really, that it would never work and the day would come and it would all change. Just like everything I suppose, everything has to change in order to sustain, to live.

It had been a good day even though I’d been at work and done a ten hour shift, the people I’d worked with had been kinder that day, not their usual. Usually they were barbarians, demanding barbarians.

My ankles ached from being stood up straight, my left in particular, around the Achilles throbbed as I took each step home.

I’d forgot that we were supposed to be going out to her friends, it was quite an important occasion, just not for me.

“But you promised, you said it was fine and that you’d love to go.”

She was right I had promised I’d go, at the time even enthusiastic about the birthday party for her friend that thought I was a waste of time.

Her friend like all of her friends had their lives boxed off and safe and I hated this. They were all comfortable and content and I was nothing like this at all. One day maybe I would know this feeling but at the time I was wild in the head with very little patience. The sun was always in my face.

I couldn’t get to that place they were all at, I couldn’t deliver myself there, I tried, and always failed, it never felt right.

I sat in the chair and stared through the big window, it was a beautiful evening, blue and soft with the sound of the traffic moving gently somewhere. I watched the bees at the window, heard the seagulls call to one another.

I was simply to tired and that was that.

“Your fucking crap you know that?” she said.

I looked over, she was pulling on her new dress, bought specially for the occasion. It was a nice dress, and I wanted to be with her at some occasion with her in that dress, just not tonight, I was too beat.

The day had had me, the head was like ground beef and the legs were like no bones were in there at all. I wanted her to realise this, but it was no good, her heart was set and her mind made up. She would be going, with or without me.

“I’m just tired I’m sorry, she’s your friend anyway, maybe I’ll come later when I’ve cleaned up and eaten.”

She turned her head, fitted some nice shoes to her feet, snapped her head back, her long hair spraying out and coming to land on her back, between her delicate shoulders. Shoulders I’d massaged and kneaded and taken the ache out of when they were sore.

“Look just forget about it you’re always the same and you’ll never change.”

I put on some music then got up and went to the bathroom and washed my hands and face in cold water. I towelled them dry and went back through to the livingroom,

She was applying make-up, just a little, she never wore much, she didn’t need to. I wasn’t attracted to women who wore pounds of the stuff, I couldn’t see the point. Even if you had bad skin and were ugly, let it show. At least then you were showing yourself in full.

I got up again and went into the kitchen. Made a sandwich and a cup of coffee, stood there eating and slurping and wondering what was coming next. I hoped she’d see reason, understand I was beat and that there’d be other times, because there always were.

No. To her there was only tonight.

“Well are you going to come?” she asked with her face peering into the kitchen, all made up, looking exquisite.

“I can come later,” I said.

“No now, what’s up with now?”

“I forgot about tonight, and I’m too tired, can you not see that? Look at my eyes for God’s sake.”

She was looking, it made no difference. She could only see a man who was lazy and couldn’t be bothered, a man who had promised to come.

I finished my sandwich, drank my coffee. Leaned against the wall and burped.

“It’s just not working is it,” she said. There was fire in her eyes, same kind of fire as when I’d first laid eyes on her. I guess we were two of a kind. She liked her own way, so did I.

She slammed the door as she left.

I went back trough to the livingroom. It was a great room. High ceilings, old feel. The CD had finished, I slipped on another, some jazz, Bill Evans. As his fingers began to glide over the keys I looked back out through that big window.

When I awoke the music had finished but it was still light outside. I checked my watch, I’d been asleep for nearly two hours.

I put the Bill Evans CD on again and went To take a shower.

It was a good move, the warm water heeled me a little, the aches faded in there power.

I turned the water off and stepped out then rapped a towel around my growing waste. I used to be thin, I used to be a lot of things. But everything changed.

I dressed and lit a cigarette and cracked the window, blew my smoke into the yard below. There was no smoking in the house. I didn’t mind this, it was no deal.

I smoked and watched the sky, that subtle pinkish shade was blossoming everywhere, quite beautiful. I saw the woman next door in her garden, she had her young daughter with her, the daughter was about two and pretty. They were playing ring a roses. I watched for a while. Then the mother saw me looking and frowned at me, the kind of frown you would give a dog with a filthy coat and fleas.

I finished my cigarette and pulled my head back inside.

I went to the hotel around the corner as it was open to the public and generally a quiet place to be. They had a few tables in the carpark out the front, I got my beer and got sat at one. The traffic was slow and I watched it for a bit. The sun in the west was dropping slowly and its power was nearly all used up.

I took a long drink and lit a fresh cigarette and watched a black and orange butterfly on the floor. One of its wings had been damaged and it was flapping like crazy and getting nowhere very fast.

There seemed very little I could do for it, even though I wanted to help. I got up and went over for a closer look. The wing was crushed and the body was oozing something yellow and thick like carnation milk. It continued to writhe about in agony. I knew it was done for. This was one butterfly that would never take flight again.

I couldn’t watch anymore, and brought the heel of my boot down. I then got sat back down and took another drink. In the west the sun had set, another day.

Submitted: April 28, 2007

© Copyright 2022 jason hillard. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



this was a nice debut piece. i like the description and mood that you set, the utter resignation which seems to drip from every word and utterance. i'm not sure if the butterfly is supposed to be an analogy to the character but i don't think so. he seems more like a leaking tire, getting near flat.

Sat, April 28th, 2007 11:04pm


Thank you for your comment. The butterfly is an anology to the relationship.

Tue, May 1st, 2007 3:01pm


I got the butterfly analogy no problem.

I really loved the honesty of this piece. The descriptions were inserted flawlessy and always added to the scene. You established mood wonderfully.

There is a bit of grammar trouble, but that's just a technicality. The story was pure, truthful, splendid.

Thu, December 27th, 2007 9:02am


thank you for the comment

Thu, December 27th, 2007 7:21am

Classy Peach

The sun was always in my face.
What a perfect line to end that paragraph.

Why do people do this to themselves?
(reader shrugs her shoulders)

Good writing and great analogy. Stomp.

Sun, March 23rd, 2008 9:26am


Thank you...I don't know either.....

Sun, March 23rd, 2008 5:06am

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