Aiden was grateful that he and his family had left his pillows, quilt and quilt cover back at the holiday cabin a fortnight ago. They were forced to abandon a lot of supplies and entertainment – food, board games and most of their clothes – but, since Aiden didn’t have any blankets, he got to snuggle with his mother every night. His older sister, Ophelia, who would have usually been quick to remark that Aiden was lucky they didn’t leave him at the cabin, had been playing music in her bedroom continuously for the past two weeks, causing Aiden and his mother to endure a cycle of restless nights and heavy days. “She’ll come out when she’s ready, sweetie,” she said whenever he asked why his mother doesn’t just go in and switch off the music.
Aside from the occasional need for a freshen up, Ophelia was contented, lying on her bed, listening to music since their return. Aiden couldn’t recall his sister listening to music before their trip, and, if she did play something, it certainly wasn’t the classical music she was listening to now. Several times, Aiden had approached Ophelia’s bedroom with every intention of knocking and seeing if she wanted to play a game of Snap or Go Fish. Instead, he sat with his back up against her bedroom door, trying to get some sense of how she was feeling.
One afternoon, Aiden was leaning with his head against Ophelia’s bedroom door, trying to appreciate the building orchestral sounds spreading themselves around their house. He knew there was something beautiful about them, but he just couldn’t figure out what it was. He put his hands down to adjust his head to better hear the music when he felt something on the carpet. It felt like cotton wool, but stickier. More like a spider’s web. He followed its trail and started pulling out more from underneath Ophelia’s door. There were sticks and leaves scattered throughout the otherwise soft webbing. Aiden used the doorknob to lift himself up and after, knocking three times and calling out Ophelia’s name, tried to push open the door. It opened, but only slightly. He tried nudging it with his shoulder but it wouldn’t open any further. The door pushed back, shutting itself and making Aiden fall on to the carpet. Aiden called out for his mother.
The two of them now had their ears to the door, squinting their eyes, listening for something. Anything. A loud bang against the door prompted them to jump back and walk backwards down the hallway. Aiden and his mother gripped each other’s hands and watched as the wooden panels of the door started to splinter and crack. Ophelia’s mother looked down at her son and it was obvious that he was trying to deliberately slow his breathing. She stroked the back of his head, forcing him to look up at her. There was no use trying to hide her concerns, so she smiled in a way which let him know that it was alright to be worried. Their shared moment interrupted when Ophelia’s door broke all the way apart, the space where the door used to be now being taken up by a purple and white butterfly wing.
The butterfly was quieter than Aiden thought it might have been given its size and the movement of her mouth and narrow legs kept him captivated. It managed to pull her wings close enough to her body so that they remained intact as she pushed her way down the hallway. Aiden’s mother pulled him out of the butterfly’s way just in time for her wings to expand and the two of them took in the beauty of having their living room space occupied by a majestic butterfly. Aiden stood up and started creeping his way to the front door. His mother tried to usher him back, but he continued, opening the door and noting towards the butterfly. He walked behind her and, captivated, reached out to touch her left wing. Startled by the touch, the butterfly tucked her wings by her sides and, in one swift movement, made her way outside and spread her wings. She let out a sound that Aiden would never forget and flew out towards the mountains in the distance.
Aiden and his mother sat on the living room floor for a moment catching their thoughts. Aiden climbed up on to his mother and curled up into a ball on her lap. His mother stroked his hair and told him that everything was going to be alright. “She’ll come back when she’s ready,” she said. “And we’ll be here, waiting for her.”
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