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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

Even the flies know how to find the openings

There are butterflies that come in from the balcony, flapping hard against the walls and the ceiling. They end up by the windows, smacking against the glass for a few minutes then resting. E runs through the house, shouting about them. I watch the tiny creature, wings closing in slow motion as it regroups. There is something ironic about a being that is so beautiful and so tragic at the same time. Even the flies know how to find the openings. 

There was a pair of butterflies that did this last year, almost to the day. I wonder if this is one of their children. I wonder what it must be like to live for just a few days and then die, a week or so at most, much of it slapping against windows trying to somehow get back outside. It seems impossible, yet merciful. 

The streets are full of people wandering in the heat with fresh flowers tucked under one arm, with cigarettes dangling from the corners of their mouths, with blisters on one heel, with spare change for the woman wrapped in black cloth who curls up on the sidewalk, her face on the ground with one hand thrust out, palm to the sky. There are people selling pineapples for three dollars, one cut open to show the inside with a small knife plunged into the center. It always disturbs me, standing wet and sticky in the fruit no one is buying. 

E skips next to me, chirping some dialogue from her latest Niki Dashentine story. She is ready to buy an ice cream, looking up at me from under the straw hat I bought her. 
"Do you think there will be another butterfly when we get home?" She asks.
"Anything is possible." I tell her.
"But would it be the same butterfly or a different one?" She continues.
"How would we know?" I ask her.
She thinks for a moment, her mouth twisting around.
"We could not know." She says.
"So then, we have to guess if the same butterfly would come back." I tell her.
"Nah." She answers. "It would not make the same mistake."














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