Always trust your instincts…unless it’s butterflies. If it’s butterflies, don’t trust them at all.

At first, I hardly noticed them. I crept slowly, careful not to crush any that may have fallen. Though I could not see them, I felt their presence and waited patiently until my body adjusted to its surroundings; until my eyes were truly open. All at once, the scene changed and it was all but impossible to unsee what was before me: Tiny angels, spanning thumb to pinky finger, rapidly pacing high overhead.

A hundred feet above me they flew, flapping wings which appeared so large at a distance that, at first glance, I likened the creatures to bats. The sky was hardly visible through the dense storm of beautiful insects swirling through the claustrophobic grove of fragrant towering Eucalyptus trees. Bits of light crept through illuminating my metallic blue nail polish and the shiny silver buttons on my jacket, reminding me that it was still daytime somewhere, just beyond this dream world.

Yet, while I was standing there, I gave in to the butterflies. I let them swallow me whole.

From the tops of trees, they flew freely, having only their instincts to guide them. It’s a month before mating season and they came to this place to rest — a safe haven from the cold. I associated the pulsating state of restful unrest to my own racing mind and instantly envied their freedom to do what comes naturally; to know where they belong; to soar on currents of warm west coast air instead of sitting still in the confinement of cold hard walls.

I closed my eyes to isolate the sound of their wings rapidly smacking the air. The vibrations filled my ears and tickled my skin, raising goose bumps with each tiny, fairytale whisper. In the middle of this enchanted Monarch den where lazy butterflies take warm winter naps, I was a fixture of the forest — connected to something greater than me — I was entranced.

Reaching up, I stretched my arms and hands to get my fingertips just a little bit closer to the swell above. In the dark sanctuary of my eyelids, my own imaginary fiery orange wings unfolded and I lifted up on to my toes, hoping that one inch higher would be just enough to touch them…I was so close.

Smiling was irrepressible once I surrendered to my senses. From wing kissed ear to wing kissed ear, pure delight washed across my face. With the trust that my eyes would not betray the beauty my ears had promised, I craned my neck to form a straight line of sight through the mass of floating royalty.

I don’t remember when I had ever felt this alive — so entirely myself — lost and simultaneously so present. I may have felt dizzy. I might have lost my balance, or tripped with my head longing so deeply for the sky — but experience made me ever aware of the ground beneath my feet.

Consumed, I nearly missed the deep scratchy baritone noting the glimmer of a rainbow just peeking through the branches.

“Do you see it?”

His voice broke through my moment and my invisible wings began to fold away, once again seeking protection from the real world. It took my eyes another lifetime to refocus and my neck a million years to readjust to an appropriate 90 degrees. The butterflies continued to soar overhead, wisped by my cheek, whispering kisses in my ear while I watched him, blurry-eyed, as he buried his face behind his Canon DSLR.

A tall dark shadow mimicking my previous twelve o’clock stance, stood poised beneath a camera capturing hundreds of thousands of regal auburn flutters against a spectrum of color. He caught them all. Making slight adjustments to the lens, or shutter, or whatever other buttons he could push, he created his own lasting memories of the transient beauty before us.

The light through the trees highlighted his jawline, glistening off the dark scruff on his chin. The air around him smelled of coffee, and something else — Gummy bears. They were sticking out his back pocket. I stepped into his space, just close enough to touch him…I was so close.

Butterflies. Instinct kicked in, and all my senses dictated that I crawl under his black t-shirt and feel the warmth of his skin against my palms, press my ear against his chest to hear everything working, beating, inside. I desired to see this world through his lens — be part of him and his rainbow, the way I was with the Monarchs and with the grove.

For a single moment, he swallowed me whole…

Then all at once, the grove was still and the world above turned from orange to blue. My tiny angels began to fall as I willed the butterflies to go away. With gentle kisses and whispers that tickle, and though they fill my tummy with longing and hope and desire, it’s in their nature to always soar above, taunting and teasing as I remain planted on the ground.

I quickly silenced my fluttering heart, reminding it that you can’t always trust butterflies.

Butterflies lie.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.