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The Butterfly Boom

by Tanya Shliahov  
3/30/2020 / Short Stories


Sarah Kay was pert. Pert and very fashion conscious. Today, she was wearing a tangerine jumper with elbow-length sleeves and a teal just-above-the-knee length skirt. This outfit was accented by a long necklace of teal-coloured beads, brown knee-length boots, a woollen cap made of teal and brown tartan and bold, red lipstick. On anyone else, this outfit would have nose-dived terribly, but when worn by Sarah Kay, it proclaimed that she was a person of great artistic talent. She had shoulder-length blond hair, a snub nose and brown eyes that had a defiant glare, but as anyone acquainted with her knew, this insolent stare was just a veneer, a remnant of a past she now recoiled from.  She had recently become a Christian, and she had noticed that although she was still quite pert, she was becoming less brash and more charitable, and what made her heart hum with pleasure today, is that others had begun to notice it too.

Sarah Kay was standing in a church courtyard. It had a pale cement floor bordered by flowery garden beds layered with brown woodchip mulch. The courtyard was framed by a wall of light-coloured bricks. The brick wall was broken up into sections by two rectangles of black lattice. Hanging baskets of blue and purple petunia flowers had been hung intermittently along the brick wall at different levels. Two tufts of green, leafy vine dangled over the top of the brick wall. The backdrop was completed by two shady lemon trees which also peaked just above the wall.

Sarah Kay stood tall and inhaled the grainy fragrance of the woodchip mulch covering the blossoming flower beds.  She was enjoying herself immensely! Just a while ago, she had completed a photography course, and she was now honing her skills in the floral courtyard. The arresting courtyard was made even more quaint that day by a joyous number of butterflies that were dancing through the air. The night before, the television newsreader had announced that entomologists of her area were excited by the occurrence of what they were calling a butterfly boom.  Butterflies of every imaginable colour and size were filling the courtyard, but her favourite were the canary-coloured butterflies which seemed to travel in pairs. They would dart towards each other before, at the last minute, shooting back away from each other again. They would spiral up and then spiral down, flittering and fluttering floating and scooting.  

Sarah Kay’s reverie was unexpectedly interrupted by a soft scrapping sound and then by the sound of flagging footsteps, slowly ascending the rungs of a metal ladder. A thatch of short, black hair appeared above the wall. It was the courtyard’s greenskeeper. He was holding a pair of pliers and some secateurs.  

“Oh, hi!” the greenskeeper snuffed as he turned to clip back the leafy, green vine which dangled over the top of the brick wall.

“Hi yourself!” Sarah Kay quipped back, causing the greenskeeper to smile and take a closer look at the colourful girl who stood with one hand on her hip the other hand grasping a pastel-blue-coloured camera. 

“Are you responsible for all this?” Sarah Kay continued, sweeping her hand around at the courtyard. 

“Me and a few others” the greenskeeper replied cautiously.

 “Well, it’s lovely! You must have the most wonderful imagination!”

“Not sure about that, but it’s nice to be complemented” he said nodding. “It’s for weddings. For people who want to have their wedding outdoors but still at a church.”  

“That’s a nice idea, but I don’t think it would suit me though.” 

“What would suit you?” the greenskeeper queried with a teasing smile.

“I think I’d get married on a mountain top with two white horses eating a bucket of green apples in the background.”

“You sound like a handful!” the greenskeeper laughed good-naturedly.

“I have been in the past” Sarah Kay faltered, starting to feel bashful at having been so open with a stranger. “But now that I am a Christian, I’m trying to be different.”

 “Kind of like this Lepidoptera”

 “Lepi-what?”

“Lepidoptera, that’s the scientific name for butterflies and moths” the greenskeeper said, trying to impress her with a knowledge of insects he did not possess. He had been overlooked by girls in the past for being assumed to be merely an uneducated janitor. He didn’t want that to happen with Sarah Kay though, but, somehow, he perceived that possessing a slower brain was not a deal breaker in Sarah Kay’s books.

“You used to be like one of these spikey black and orange caterpillars” the greenskeeper said pointing at some grubs on the wall. “Then, God changed your heart and turned you into a new creation.”

“Yes, he did. Has he done that for you too?”

The greenskeeper nodded, “And not that long ago either.”

“That sounds like the start of an interesting story” Sarah Kay encouraged.

“I don’t normally tell people this. Its not something that I am proud of anymore. Before I came to know Jesus, I wasn’t a nice guy. I spent all my spare time partying. I used to get drunk every weekend with my mates and I used to chase girls. Then, one night as I was walking home from my favourite club, my friends and I walked past a street preacher. He was standing on a box preaching to a very small number of inebriated boozers. My mind was fuzzy from all the alcohol I had consumed that night but something that preacher said penetrated the gloom. He said, “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbour, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!”.  I began to think of all the girls I had played. I think one or two of them genuinely loved me, but I treated them like they were junk. I started to realise that those girls were made in God’s image. They aren’t toys to be played with. I should think of them as sisters and love and protect them. I should even protect them from myself. My friends joked about and taunted the street preacher, but I will always be grateful he gave up his weekend to tell me and everyone else there that night how we could be saved and forgiven and loved by the God who created us.”

Sarah Kay gave the greenskeeper an affirming smile and said, “I’m so glad too!”.

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

Habakkuk 2:15 NKJV

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