I wanted to see the butterfly fly, so I tried to startle it into the air. Instead of floating like a neon leaf, the butterfly flopped onto its side, flopped onto its other side, and limped along for a few inches. Then it resumed sunning itself and sighed.
I looked closer.
The butterfly’s wings had slipped – that’s really the only way I can think of describing it. The bottom wing was on top of the top wing. The butterfly was also missing 2 legs.
I cupped the pathetic thing in my hand (it fluttered ineffectually). If I pushed the wing like this… there. Fixed.
The butterfly, distressed that I had touched it (I seem to remember someone at the Wild Animal Park screaming at me for touching one once), skeddaddled (well, as much as a butterfly can skedaddle).
It fluttered away and then crashed. Fluttered again and crashed. And again. And again, moving slowly higher each time. Despite the psychotic loop-the-loops, painful wing flaps, and even more painful crashes (I assume, I do not speak Butterfly), it was gaining altitude.
Two feet. Thud.
Two and a half feet. Thud.
And right when I was thinking that this butterfly could be a powerful metaphor for perseverance, a bittersweet vignette about hope and pain and suffering and God and doctors and the perils of being a fragile insect, a bus pulled into the train station parking lot and crushed the butterfly.