The Butterfly
by Kiora

It's very spur of the moment, and the style really isn't my usual, so tell me what you think- if you like it, tell me why. If you don't- tell me what I can do to make it better. Thanks!

There was once a village far within the expanses of the Jungle, as they called it. It needed no other name; for it was the only jungle any of them would ever live to see. That was one of the unspoken laws of this village- those born here will also die here- and so no one left. No one wondered what lie beyond the confines of their jungle, and no one cared- they merely worked their hardest each day and lived with what they had.

With this life they were content, for there were not so many rules. And the rules they did have? Well, those were for their own safety- those they could understand and those they accepted. This was the law carved into their Stone, or the towering rock that stood in the very center of the village market. These were the rules they taught their young ones, and these rules, the old ones lived by. They were content with this, for they knew of no other way.

It was the unspoken law, though, that roused the most debate. Where had these rules come from? Who had created them? Why were they there? No one knew the answers, but that was okay. No one really cared.

This is the story of before- before the world as they knew it changed right before their eyes. The story of after begins with a girl.

She was born to a family of seven sons, and that in itself was an accomplishment. Seven virtuous sons they were, but it was only natural for her parents to long for a daughter. And so to her parents, she was a miracle, a blessing from the Gods upon them. Oh, how little they knew then!

She grew ever so slowly, as if cherishing every moment of her life. Years and years passed before she uttered her first word; it seemed almost a decade before she learned to walk. But what's important is that she did learn, and she did grow older, as all things do, and before anyone realized it, she had become a young woman. Like a caterpillar that crawls into life so tiny and dull, then blossoms into a beautiful butterfly, she had changed before their very eyes.

And what a magnificent butterfly she became! No one ever saw a lady fairer than the one she became. Her locks flowed in yellow waves- yellow like the blessed golden sun, and her skin was warm and tan: the color of sweet cinnamon. Looking into her eyes, there was, sparkling with them, a certain joy that only the young seem to hold on to. Yes, she was beautiful. That, no one could deny.

The village's men were all mesmerized- blinded, even- at the warmth, the ray of sun that she brought with her. People would jump at the chance to help her or walk with her, and no one would leave her presence without a smile. Even the maidens loved talking with her and singing with her and working with her, for she was as kind as she was beautiful and it seemed that she was without a flaw. She was perfect, and all they had for her was endless admiration.

And so the village lived as it always had, in blissful harmony. The old ones would work by day, doing whatever it was that they did best- some weaved, others hunted, and others yet scavenged. The young ones did their chores, as that was what was expected of them, and they played. They played in the marketplace and in the shops and in the houses and amongst the trees. They played with little rocks and with hand-sewn dolls and with everything else they could imagine- the fun was endless in their village of, to them, so many possibilities.

Yet even in this Jungle of so much and so little, there were places no one dared to trek. Even the young ones—the bravest of them all—were ruled by the unspoken laws. One place in particular was a source of fear and nightmares for all who passed, and the Elders told them all that it was the land of the spirits, not fit for the living. And so the villagers would repeat amongst themselves, 'it's the land of the spirits!' Of what did they speak? Why, the cemetery, of course.

The girl who was still a maiden yet, had known of these rumors for as long as she had remembered, and like all the other young ones, she had never set foot in the cemetery. Like all the other young ones, she was obedient, for she truly believed. She was different, though, because unlike the rest, the cemetery would not leave her thoughts. Some nights, while her parents and her brothers slept, she would imagine the secrets locked within the forbidden grounds and within her, something was awakening.

As the number of nights like those became greater, she grew further and further away from the villagers. When she was supposed to be doing her chores, she would often find herself behind the old church, gazing, dazed, at the cemetery. 'One of these days', she promised herself, 'I will go in.'

One day, she did go in. It was not quite dawn when she arrived, for the stars were still on the verge of fading from the sleepy sky. Hidden by the fleeting shadows of midnight, she flung herself through the rusty gates, no longer bound by her village's silly superstitions. Slowly, she walked on the silent stone path, greedy eyes taking in all that was around.

It didn't take long for morning to catch up with her, and the sun's brilliant rays danced across the lonely graveyard as they always had- but today, they had an audience. In no time at all, the village began to wake, rising yet again to follow the same pattern that they lived and died with. The sound of chirping birds and crickets and the ruffling of larger animals filled the air and all around her; it seemed as if life was beginning again. This was far from the place of death and desolation that she had been taught to believe.

These thoughts racked her mind, and soon enough they were accompanied by new, different thoughts blooming all at once, for there was so much that she had never seen and still so much world she did not know. Suddenly, there grew within her a confidence in the belief that the world was larger than the expanses of the Jungle, and for a moment, she was overwhelmed with possibilities.

And this was when they found her, for when it occurred to the villagers that the girl was missing, the panic had spread like a wildfire, burning away at their senses. 'Butterfly,' they called, 'little Butterfly!' For that was what they had named her; she was their own little butterfly- she was beautiful and small and bright and all theirs. 'You're safe!'

For a moment, no one even noticed where it was that they happened to find her; they were so consumed by their joy. One by one they gazed at their surroundings, 'Oh Butterfly, whatever are you doing in that awful place?' The women murmured, extending their hands to help her out. The girl was unfazed. With a golden smile, she raised her hands around her, 'This is the cemetery! Look!'

'Our poor, poor Butterfly, what's the matter? The cemetery is still just the cemetery.' Worry seeped into their voices, and then desperation, for she would not come. She would not leave the cemetery, and soon, they were begging her. The girl merely shook her head and smiled, and when she finally left, it was because she wanted to, not because she was told to.

That was where it began, the change. It was true, she had changed, but she was not alone. In the days that followed, she lopped off her flowing mane, and journeyed daily to the wondrous cemetery. There, she would spend the silence that arrived before dawn, and there she would learn the names of her ancestors. There, she would create fantastical stories about how they must have lived, though she knew. Nothing had changed since then, she was sure. And so, with new determination, the little butterfly decided to spread her wings.

And so she did.

When that fateful day came- the day she finally left the village, no one said a word. They just watched, for they knew that something within their hearts was stirring. And so when Butterfly disappeared into the Jungle, one by one, the other young ones followed her example, eager for their own adventures.

Years passed, and though some returned, others did not. They brought with them amazing stories of their travels and the world beyond the Jungle. One of the older ones, who still remembered, would always ask, 'And what of our Butterfly?' No one knew. The Butterfly never returned to the small world she left behind.

And so, in this way, years passed peacefully in the Jungle. Some things had changed, but others had not. Time had not washed away their age-old pattern of living, or the rules carved upon the Stone in the village market. But travelers now came and left with the seasons, and the small village thrived as it always had. A grave keeper had been appointed- a lively young girl with the same flourishing curiosity- to ensure that Butterfly's garden-cemetery would stay beautiful forever.

Somewhere along the way, new, exotic creatures began to find their way to the village. The winds brought new fragrances and the birds learned new songs. Beautiful flowers sprung out from the dusty earth, in a color that no one had ever seen before, and with them came the butterflies- a new kind of beautiful, golden butterflies fluttered throughout the village like sunlight, keeping it warm.

And so life remained for the kindly people of the Jungle; full of light.

written 02/18/02/revised 12/07/02

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