Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

The Butterflies Are Coming

She is going to die. My girlfriend is going to die. I’m not going to kill her, it will be the butterflies. It is happening tonight. I know this now. I have been trying to find a way to stop it, but I think it is impossible. It’s too late for her, but maybe, it won’t be too late for you. I have my doubts though.

Fiona is going to die tonight. The butterflies told me so.

They will speak to you too, and when they do, you have to listen. You won’t want to, but you must. You have to accept it. It hurts but there’s nothing else you can do. Sometimes, it’s just somebody’s time.

It began a week ago. We were in the garden, enjoying the summer sun when a butterfly, with wings as black as the night’s sky landed on her arm. It was harmless. Butterflies just flutter around, living their lives and nobody pays much attention, but that was a warning, something that we couldn’t quite understand at the time, but would learn to be terrified of, as time went on.

It lingered on her arm, flapping its wings as she gazed down with a smile.

“It tickles.” She whispered, pointing at it with her free hand, and I returned her smile. “Quick, take a picture.” I raised my phone up, swiping into the camera app and snapped a picture. It should have been beautiful. Fiona and her new friend. A beautiful girl, with a beautiful butterfly. “Let me see.” I opened the image up, and gasped, my breath caught in my throat as the phone fell to the grass. “Come on Steph, let me see!” She insisted as the butterfly, bored of her arm, took flight and disappeared into the sunlit sky.

“No.” I shook my head, snatching the phone away as she went to grab it, flinching as the photo caught my eye again. There she was, cross legged in the sun, with her new friend on her arm, but her face was drained and void of life, blood staining the soft grass, her eyes, glassy and gone as the knife in her neck shone in the sunlight.

“Did you use a silly filter?” She said, with a frown, pouting as she reached for the phone again. I shook my head, but she wouldn’t give in, pushing me on the grass playfully, pulling the phone from me. Her face fell as she saw the photo. She stared in silent horror, tears forming in her eyes. “Did you do this? It’s really fucked up.” She threw the phone back in my direction, turning away from me, sniffling as the tears began to fall. I didn’t have an explanation, only the certainty that I hadn’t edited the photo.

“I didn’t, I swear.” I whispered, shocked at the accusation, putting my arms around her. “Let’s just take another one.” I kissed her cheek softly, relieved as she nodded, holding up her own phone, and smiling at our image on the screen. I wiped the tears from her face as we focused our eyes on the screen and smiled, holding it as she clicked the capture button.

“What the fuck?” Her voice shook as she opened the photo. Her body was lifeless in my arms, the knife jutting from her neck as my tear stained, blood soaked face looked on in terror. We stared in shocked silence at the image, not knowing how it had come to be, or what it meant, and just as I was about to speak, I noticed that there were now two butterflies resting on her arm in the photograph.

She was hysterical, understandably. I held her close to me as she cried, confused and horrified by what she had seen, and for the rest of the day, she was fragile, barely saying a word. When she had gone to bed, I stared down at both of our phones, fiddling with the settings to see if I could find any explanation, but it was fruitless, so, of course, as anyone would do, I turned to the internet.

It was a long and boring search, at first. I focused on camera glitches, hacking and explanations based in reality, but that was my mistake. This thing, this curse, it doesn’t recognise our reality. It doesn’t play by our rules. I was up all night, but at about 4am, I found something that made me feel like I wasn’t losing my mind. Someone else had experienced the same thing, but it wasn’t the phones, or a technical issue, it was the butterflies.

You may see butterflies in your life, of all colours and patterns, but it’s the black butterflies you have to watch out for. Pitch black, with no markings, travelling down from the sky to tell you a secret. When they arrive, you’ll know what we know now.

You are on borrowed time.

It was just one person’s account at first. She had tried to take a cute selfie as a butterfly landed on her shoulder, but every photo she took was horrifying. Blood, violence, visions of her own death. Soon, it wasn’t just the photos. She would see her death in the mirror, the butterfly perched on her shoulder, soon joined by more, as the days went by. She posted, in panic on an occult Reddit sub for about six days, before she vanished and was never heard from again.

Her last post was the one that bothered me most. She said that the photo she had taken was so disturbing that she was afraid to post it, and that there was a horrifying feeling all across her body that she couldn’t shake off. She knew she was about to die, and her last line was simple but chilling.

“They’re eating me alive.”

As I reached the end of her testimony, I stared at the end of the screen in silence. I checked her post and comment history again and again, finding no trace of her online after that day, but I did find a response to one of her earlier comments from another user that offered a small ray of hope.

“You can find some peace in water.” It was vague, but it was a chance, something that I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else, so I ran with it, focusing my search on water. I didn’t find much else, except for another vague, small ray of hope from a user.

“The butterflies take longer to find you in the water.”

I ran a bath, waking Fiona and leading her to the bathroom. She grumbled, tired, and still reeling from what she’d seen earlier that day, but she stepped into the bath, relaxing in the water and looking at peace for the first time since it had all begun.

I raised my phone to take a picture and she shook her head, snapping up from her peace to cover her naked body.

“Stephanie, what are you doing?” She squeaked, glaring at me.

“Just trust me…” I whispered, pressing the capture button regardless of her protests. “I have an idea.” She rolled her eyes as I opened the picture, and to my astonishment, there was nothing but my naked, and completely alive girlfriend. I showed her, flashing the phone in front of her face with a wide smile. “Look! You’re alive!” She looked up from the phone in bewilderment.

“But… how?” I sat on the edge of the bathtub, puzzled but pleased with our progress.

“I don’t know, but it’s something, isn’t it?” She nodded, still not looking convinced but obviously relieved that we were getting somewhere.

“Oh sure, if I stay in the bath for the rest of my life, everything will be fine.” She muttered, with a pout. I cupped her face in my hands and stared into her emerald eyes, with the most reassuring smile I could offer.

“I know it isn’t ideal, but it’s a start.”

She spent most of her time in the bath over the next few days, only leaving to use the toilet or to take quick breaks to stretch her legs. It was impractical, and to the outside eye, ridiculous, but it was the only hope we had of keeping her safe.

At first, it worked, and we tried to forget how unsustainable it was. I’d sleep on the bathroom floor beside her, and we lived our lives for six whole days as a mermaid and her faithful companion.

I continued my research from the bathroom, scrolling through so many websites and blog posts about butterflies. I didn’t learn much in the beginning, except that black butterflies symbolise death, but as I went on, I found something useful.

There was a rumour, an old folk tale about black butterflies, and their Master, Death. The tale goes that the butterflies would accompany Death to collect souls when it was their time to go, and that they worked as his servants, taking the soon to be departed to their demise, and into the peaceful afterlife.

It all went without a hitch, until, of course, it didn’t. Life is just like that, and I suppose, nobody really escapes it. There was a King, rich and powerful, ruling over his subjects with impunity, as Kings often do, but when Death and his butterflies came knocking, he refused to go quietly. He set his men on Death, but it was no use, and all of them were slaughtered. The streets were a river of blood, but the King refused to give in, escaping his castle and travelling to the mountains on horseback with his most trusted advisors, pursued by Death and his army of butterflies.

He found a small coven that had been hiding in the mountains, forcing them to use their powers to destroy Death. At first, they refused, insistent that they would not meddle in the natural order of things, but the King, and his remaining men tortured the young witches, until one eventually gave in, agreeing to perform the curse, to save her sisters.

As promised, Death was destroyed, but the King was not free. The butterflies, driven mad by grief at the loss of their Master, and with no guidance from Death chased the King until they finally caught him, ripping him to shreds. It was said that the butterflies wandered the world aimlessly after that, stealing the souls of those unfortunate enough to catch their eye, always hoping to find their Master again, but never being successful.

I slipped into sleep after reading it, tormented by terrifying dreams of the butterflies, the King and the demise of Death, but I still had no answers on how to save my love.

I was asleep when they found her. The sound of their wings awoke me. So many wings, drowning out her screams as they flapped them endlessly, trying to take flight. My eyes snapped open at the bellow of their wings, and I reached up to the edge of the tub, my eyes, hopeless in the darkness. I felt the soft, velvet of wings beneath my fingers, recoiling in disgust as I leapt towards the door, pulling on the light string and blinking as the room flooded with a dim light, revealing the true horror of the scene.

They were everywhere. Black butterflies crowded the room. They were all over the tub, the sink, the lightbulb, the ceiling, and they were all over Fiona’s body. Her muffled cries could barely be heard over the furious sound of the butterflies flapping their wings all around us. I ran to her, trying to push them away so that she could breathe, but they were relentless. Every time I made a path to free her, more would swoop down, but I kept trying, no matter how hopeless it was.

“You have twenty four hours to say goodbye.” A voice whispered in my ear. I jumped back in shock, staring around the bathroom, and the cyclone of butterflies, but seeing nobody. “We will be back to collect her tomorrow.” With those final words, the butterflies vanished, and Fiona was freed, coughing and spluttering in the water as she reached for me.

Those twenty four hours are almost up. There’s only half of one left, and already, I’ve spotted butterflies around the house. I’ve let her sleep. There’s no point in her thinking about what’s to come. So, here I am, waiting alone, and telling you.

Why am I telling you? I don’t really know, because knowing all this won’t save you, just like it won’t save her. You can hide, for a little, but you’ll never truly be free of them if they decide that they want you, so, my best advice is to run, before they get a good look at you. If you see a black butterfly, run for your life, because if you don’t, they’ll take it. They cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be bargained with. You can only run, as fast as you can, and as long as you can.

They’re here.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Don’t

Sometimes I smoulder inside your smothering embrace,
slipping inside dreams of the soft, scarlet skies,
watching the world burn as I yearn for forever,
and it comes,
charmed by how politely I asked,
perched on the sweet side of my soul.

You woke me with roses as the warm sun snuck through the windows,
and I was out of control,
out of my mind with my desire,
because this is how I wanted to be loved.
I’m just a brown eyed girl with the blues, but, you,
you are technicolour torture,
and in an instant, I’m a whole new woman,
no more the wanderer,
waiting for a home.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Once Again

Every few months,
I become convinced that I am once again in the winter of my life,
saying “No, not now” to the insistent sun of summer.
I’ve been getting round to giving up on myself for each of my golden years,
but then you show up,
bringing the sun with you,
and I am blinded by the bijou belief that I could be wrong,
and that there’s still something out there that could make me smile.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Pride Month 2022, Writing

Flashback – I Am What I Am

I realised this morning that she has let herself into every aspect in my life.
Late at night,
she stands next to my bed,
keeping me from sleep with that stupid, simpering smile she used to do,
just for me,
and it never stops.

It doesn’t end there either.
I had the great displeasure of discovering that the entirety of Mark Owen’s discography is about her.
He never met her,
but when he was warbling “What We Already Know”,
I realised that she was everything,
and everything fell into place.

My summers in solitude,
back and forth on the swings,
so desperate to text her again, but trying to show some restraint,
half way through the Green Man album,
it was all about her.
It was like this tiny man from a town far away had seen our stupid little love story,
two stupid little girls, never knowing what to say,
and he wrote song after song until he had a record to sell,
and even now,
the opening notes of Makin’ Out make me desperate to text her, again, and I have to hide my phone,
because restraint is something I lost with age.

Over Christmas,
I filled my kitchen with all the foods my family prefer,
some kind of ritualistic offering,
because now that they know what I am,
I will live the rest of my life convinced that they won’t stay,
so I decided to feed them until they were too tired to leave,
and it was all fine,
I was coping just fine with my bad coping mechanisms until I saw something in the cupboard.
I hadn’t even thought as I bought it,
packed it into a bustling bag for life,
carried it home on the bus,
but face to face with a tin of custard, in the cupboard,
I had no choice but to think of her.

It’s just the food she likes,
songs that could be about anybody,
smiles on a face I can barely recall, when I really try,
and my God, I try,
holding the pain to my heart and sobbing my way through my Hail Marys.

It happens,
almost by design,
it’s just part of life,
just something that happens when you first meet love.
She is so sweet and so exciting,
and you can’t help but let her live in every part of your life,
until she exists everywhere and you are breathless,
bounding through life like a puppy who is finally allowed outside,
or a butterfly that has seen the sun for the first time,
but it never lasts.

She stays everywhere, long after she is gone,
inescapable and still so beautiful,
but you can never get lost like you did that first time,
and you’ll be breathless,
battling against breaking point after breaking point.
Every reminder of her is a reminder that it’s just her favourite food in the cupboard,
just a song that reminds you of her,
just the memory of the first smile that showed you what love could be.

I am just up the road from her house,
it’s just a few stops on the bus,
and her number never changed.
I know her,
she’s a hopeless romantic,
and if I turned up at her door,
dripping with roses and all my confessions,
maybe it would be more than her favourite food in my cupboard,
more than a song that reminds me of her,
more than a memory that drives me insane,
but,
of course,
I never get on that bus.

I have been in a long term relationship with self loathing for so long,
and I’m not the unfaithful type.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Pride Month 2022, Writing

Flashback – Herrings

Tha sinn cho coltach ri dà sgadan.

My badly pronounced pick up line brought a bemused smile to her face,
as the water woke from it’s slumber and the sea snaked closer up the sand to see our love story unfold.
I told her, that we were as similar as two herring,
despite being unsure if I had invoked the bird or the fish,
making a wish on a sleeping star that was tucked behind the clouds,
hopeful that, at last, I had learned the art of being somewhat charming.