When I finally realized what I had, it had gone and was far away.
This is the sign of our friendship, he said. On the tip of his index finger rested a black butterfly. Perhaps not wholly black, for it gleamed a burnt purple under the bright winter sun.
Whenever you see this butterfly please think of me.
I nodded and tried vainly to smile through my tears.
Let your heart whisper to it, for hope that one of them will survive all the dangers, and come at last to me. In my dreams it will tell me of you.
He held my shoulder and pressed me close. I smelt the musky white scent of his shampoo and soap combined and dried my eyes on his jacket. Gently he pulled away. Gently he took hold of its wings and pulled it from him. Purplish scales stuck to his fingers, but he took no notice.
He transferred the creature to my shaking palm, where it unfolded its black velvet wings. So fragile, so small. The merest closing of a fist would crush it forever.
Pressing his lips to my forehead, he smiled sadly and quietly said goodbye. I nodded mechanically; transfixed by the burden such a little creature would have to bear.
The door closed with a snap. I opened the window and watched him walk down the path. I prayed that he would come back to me one day.
I’ll always come back to you.
Its heart-shaped wings trembled as a gust of breeze took it through the window, but my gaze lingered on his disappearing shadow. Something welled up inside me and a tear rolled down my cheek.
Don’t cry… I’m always with you.
When I finally realized what I had, he had gone and was far away.
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