Pursuit Excerpt: The Butterfly

After lunch, which Gabriella was able to take in the dining room downstairs, she returned to her ward and went to sit and read her book in the TV room. TV didn’t normally bother her or distract her from her reading as her books were usually more interesting than anything on the TV. As she settled in a comfy armchair, book in hand, her attention was drawn by the word “butterfly” spoken on the TV.

Doctor Joe had called her fluttering heart a butterfly and she smiled as she thought how silly it would be to have a real butterfly inside her. As she watched the nature program she saw how the caterpillar would eat and eat leaves then attach itself to a twig of a tree. Then it would spin its own thread to wrap itself entirely in a cocoon. She knew all of this of course. Nature books were one of her favorites.

The commentator was saying that the caterpillar virtually died inside the cocoon and emerged as a brand new butterfly. Inside the cocoon the caterpillar ceased to exist and in its place it became the beautiful butterfly.

“How nice,” thought Gaby. “The caterpillar stops being what it is to become something else.” it was like leaving the past behind, she thought, like she had read somewhere in a book in the library, Psychology section. Letting go of the past and becoming something new instead. She liked that idea. All things pass away, behold all things become new, she remembered reading elsewhere.

In her mind she saw herself inside a cocoon. She felt herself changing, imagining what it would be like for the caterpillar to change into a butterfly.
She felt the wings growing on her back and she wiggled as she imagined how it must tickle. She became aware of the legs growing, two of them, even though she knew a butterfly had six. Her head grew as a distinct part of her body, and her tongue stretched out. But wait! Does a butterfly have a tongue? She didn’t know. But she felt it was time to break out of her cocoon.

Stretching she imagined pushing against the inside of the cocoon, pushing hard until the sides began to crack. Crack, crack, and soon there was a gap to stick out her head. Pushing through the hole she pulled out her wings, stretching them in the sunlight.

Taking a deep breath she opened her mouth to give a sigh, as if waking from a sleep. “Roar!” A roar! That surprised her. Butterflies don’t roar. She flapped her wings and pushed into the air, even so she knew a butterfly first had to dry its wings in the sunlight. Into the sky she flew, much too fast for a butterfly. She flew over a mountain and towards a mountain lake. Landing on a rock at the water’s edge.

She wanted to see what colours were on her beautiful wings and peered into the water. What she saw shocked her so much she fell back onto the rock. What? It can’t be! She got up and looked again. A large green head with scaled skin looked back at her. Instinctively she flapped her wings, looking at them for the first time, and flew back to her cocoon. There was something odd with the way she got out of the cocoon. Back over the mountain she flew, all the way thinking, it can’t be. She made her way back, somehow she knew how and where to go. But it wasn’t a tree she was heading for, but the side of the mountain, to a cave. And there she saw her cocoon. It wasn’t a cocoon. It was a large broken egg.

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