He tilted his head like a Labrador and stared at her as if she’d said something mental. Or was he staring at her boobs? It was difficult to tell. It was his job after all. But that’s not why she had come to see him.
‘You want to turn into a butterfly?’ He asked in disbelief.
‘You don’t want a nose job, a boob job or a face lift?’
‘Do you think I need one?’ Now she was concerned. She came for wings, for new flesh. Did she need to have it stretched too?
She had seen this show on TV and had grown quite jealous of caterpillars. They had this gift of mutation. She wanted to mutate, to leave her skin behind. She didn’t feel the same. Inside, she was another, why shouldn’t her exterior reflect that? She lacked an exoskeleton, something to protect her.
‘First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues,’ the velvety voice of the documentary narrator had said. She wanted that to be a passage of her life. She wanted her tissues to dissolve.
They didn’t know, nobody knew. The way he touched, it felt right at first, at first. She screamed, at least she thought she had. Maybe she didn’t. She felt like it; her heart was screaming. She could smell him on her still. She wanted it to go away. He wouldn’t go down the drain. The water couldn’t wash away her thoughts. She thought she needed a new body; maybe she needed a new mind.
She had been bruised, she felt ugly. That’s when she started eating leaves, and only leaves. She’d have spinach, with lettuce on the side. She needed to cleanse herself. And although her friends and family had always deemed her as beautiful, TV and magazines did not. Especially now.
She needed to be fixed, but she didn’t know how to, until that Thursday. Late night TV had turned into a permanent canvas on her wall. Kim Kardashian was news, avocados were in, lemons cured cancer, and Pluto was a planet again. She didn’t know what she was. And then it became clear, as she observed the images captured by zoom lenses: a butterfly leaving its cocoon. First the trauma; then the freedom. She knew what she wanted to be.
‘Have you talked to anybody about that?’ Asked the doctor.
‘I’m talking to you,’ she said.
‘I mean a specialist.’
‘I thought you were one.’
‘I know what you mean. I’m not seeing a Lepidopterist.’
‘I meant a psychiatrist.’
She thought about seeing the police about it, but she had been drunk and that didn’t bode well. She was also wearing a skirt, so it was basically her fault, right? Her mother had always said she had a catastrophic sense of fashion. She would have exchanged her skirt for wings anytime. Though, at the time, it felt like she was flying. An outer body experience where she could see herself from above. She left her body, temporarily, to survive. Now, she had to find another one; her old armour didn’t fit her anymore.
She was enveloped by darkness for what felt like a lifetime. She could hear the muffled sound of the universe outside. The place she had left behind. Would she miss it? Would it miss her? Was it her fault? Was there something about her body that had allowed it, that had incited that, facilitated that? Was it a crime or karma? She still had to see him, almost every day. He looked the same. How did he look the same? She could never be the same again.
She needed camouflage. She wanted to blend in with the leaves of a tree.
After missing work for two weeks straight, people were concerned. Unanswered phone calls turned into desperate ones. Her family came down, looking for her, but she wouldn’t come to the door. The police had to break in. And they stepped into an unusual scenario.
In the middle of the room, hanging from the ceiling, there was a human size cocoon. The silky covering seemed to envelope a body. It was difficult to tell if it was the light, the time of the day or just the right time, but it began to move, something was alive inside. And, whatever it was, it started ripping off its shelter looking for a way out.
The officers stepped back and the cocoon burst open with not one, but thousands of white butterflies. They set themselves free, escaping through the door towards the sky.