When she rolled out of bed on this mid-June day, she knew something was off. Not in a bad, dreading what comes next kind of way, but in a ‘today is just different’ kind of way. It was half past noon and nothing too out of the ordinary had happened as of yet, but she kept her awareness at a ten.
Stepping out of her home, painted yellow and white equally, spoke more to who she was on the inside than how her house looked on the outside. The paint job was something that would fade over time, but what was in her was evergreen; forever lasting. Every thing in her life had meaning, whether unintentionally or force prescribed. It was just the way she was wired, and she never really questioned it. Rolling with the punches was one of the few things she was willing to give herself credit for.
If you were to ask her what the colors represented, the words would come gushing out like a waterfall that had just broken through an ice cold winter and gave way to spring. Yellow was the color of life, and she embodied it well. Doing what she loved on her terms and when she wanted to do it was her idea of living life to the fullest, and in the deep country side, who could tell her she was wrong? As the sunlight began to beam on her house, reflecting off the white, making it almost blinding to gaze at, her dog Alice trailed out behind her and into the colorful garden she had planted earlier this spring.
As a lover of all animals, outside of the mischievous raccoon's that would send her harvest to an early grave, she respected all living things. Alice, her coat as blonde as a pure German girl’s hair, rustled around the garden and open grass that was her very own fun park. As the dog roamed around, she reached for a note in her back pocket, kicked her white flip flops off and sat in the grass, spreading her feet through the cool, wet blades.
Unfolding the note that she’d read a dozen times before, but not for months since, a cloud overtook the sunlight, but passed through swiftly. Her dark hair became more gorgeous in the shade, truly accentuating the rest of her features. She always felt as if she wasn’t as pretty without makeup, no matter how many people would reassure her otherwise. One of the few women who possessed natural beauty, but refused to accept it. The breeze picked up, and so did Alice’s speed. Running back and forth, as if she was playing tag with herself from tree to tree.
Mackenzie chuckled to herself as she looked down at the note. This was the only thing she had left of Jackson’s, and she carried it with her every day. She had almost lost her job when she snapped on a kid for intentionally spilling water in her seat, causing her to dampen the note. The kid, who wasn’t really a kid at all, had apologized profusely for the act, and conceded he didn’t know of her keepsake. In turn, she admitted it could have been placed in a better spot than her back pocket, but it was what she felt comfortable with and was the only way she knew she’d never lose it.
Jackson was her world, and for him to have left the way he did brought her down every day. It was part of the reason she cherished Alice the way she did. Just as she got through the first line, which only bared her name, a butterfly landed on the top right corner of the outstretched, wrinkled paper. Holding the note steady in her left hand, she moved her right towards the butterfly, surrendering her index finger for it to balance on. The butterfly gave in, and slightly jumped from the page and on to her finger.
The butterfly lay still, allowing her to examine it’s colorful print. Like a scientist with a microscope, she etched out every detail in her mind, perhaps to draw it later on. She wasn’t much of an artist these days, but she was feeling inspired. Something she hadn’t felt since Jackson left. Getting lost in her mind and thoughts was something of a pastime for her, as she was ascribing meaning to each color and pattern. The blue signified her sadness of the day, the orange represented the brighter days to come, and the white was the eternal feeling of hopefulness.
She thought back to the day she painted this whole house, all by herself. How happy she was to do that, to feel like she accomplished something on her own, something meaningful. Alice was a puppy at the time, doing puppy things, getting her nose in the paint can and running wild through the grass and brush ahead of her. She tried to leave by the old adage that ‘hard times create hard people,’ but while you’re in the midst of it, it’s not as easy as you’re lead to believe.
Remarkably, the butterfly remained on her finger as she got lost in her thoughts. As soon as she snapped back to reality, it began to downpour. She let out a frustrated, “fuck!,” as the rain drenched her letter and made it unreadable, at least for now. Mackenzie scurried onto the porch to avoid the rain as Alice did the opposite, and relished in all of it for as long as she could. Mackenzie shook her head once on the enclosed porch, both in due to the fact that Jackson’s last remaining memory was destroyed by mother nature, and the fact that she’d have to dry off Alice whenever she decided she had her fill.
Twisting the door knob open, she stepped through her doorway once more, turning back to see the butterfly clinging to her wooden porch rail, right by her white azalea patch. She stopped dead in her tracks for a second, thinking back. Those were the flowers that Jackson had planted.
She let out a deep sigh, and slammed her back against her sponge painted tan wall, and slid down like a limp towel, eventually into a crouching position. Note still in hand, she unfolded it once more, tears rolling down her face, knowing that this was the last thing she’d ever own of his. She couldn’t believe what was running through her mind, if she were to vocalize it to another living person, they’d most certainly have her committed.
They were thoughts of being with Jackson once more, but not in the way that she’d harm herself. She never would, no matter how bad things got. She never once believed, or even thought about reincarnation in her life, but she genuinely believed that if this butterfly was not Jackson, it was a messenger for him.
With the door still open, the butterfly pranced by her, everntually stopping and landing on her stove only one room away. She dried her eyes and sniffled briefly before raising up to her feet, and awalked gently towards it. She let out a whimpering, “If this is you, please show me,” before tearing up some more. The butterfly remained on the turn dial of the stove.
She thought to herself that maybe it was telling her to try to dry the letter out, so she placed it a foot or so above the flame, as not to burn it. The ink was faded outside of a few words, and as fate would have it, they were meaningful ones. She wondered if he had pressed hard with the pen when he wrote these words. As she read them aloud, the formed a coherent sentence.
As she read left to right, top to bottom, the sentence became clear.
“You. Found me. There. I left you. Forever,
Stepping outside once more, Alice finally on the porch, having had enough of the rain storm, the words washed over her like the water itself. She pieced together his final puzzle, which was his trademark. He’d love to play games, joke around and give her riddles. She was disappointed that it took her two fucking years to solve the last one he’d ever leave.
She stepped forward, to the garage, sliding the door open where she had indeed found him, breathless so many years ago. She’d been alone since, trying to fix herself. As she looked upwards, to the beam in which she had found him, she saw not only the butterfly, but three white roses, and two teddy bears.
Surprisingly enough, the roses looked as fresh as could be, as if they were picked today. She scooped up both the teddy bears and the roses and retreated inside and up the stairs into a room with a view of her sprawling land outside of the window. Mackenzie dug into a closet and pulled out an easel and a canvas, tears in her eyes, pulling a chair up as well after setting up the art stand.
She began painting the butterfly whom she believed to be Jason, as Alice came in beside her and nuzzled her leg.
For the first time in years, she was whole again.