Papillon

It was an early grey morning and Barbara was sitting on the side of the bed. She was singing softly while looking through the glass window. Her eyes had a certain maturity now. She was calm and composed, for the circumstances she had been thrown into only allowed her to be that way.

Staring through the window, she looked at the drops that went down the glass from the outside; they joined a bigger drop and then disappeared. “What would it be like to be a drop of water?” She though, “would the sun come out today?” When she wasn’t staring out the window she could hear the tic-toc of the white round clock with black numbers placed on top of the doorframe. The door wasn’t quite closed so it was possible for Barbara to hear people walking through the hallway, sometimes the steps were fast, sometimes very slow. Her hands were freezing cold, the room needed a heater, she thought.

Barbara revised the events of the previews night over and over again in her mind, but she knew there was nothing she could have done. She wished things had been different, but she knew that to hope for that was to just never accept what had really happened. She wished there was a sign from Papillon that made her realise that what was happening was just a dream. Things were as usual last night, Barbara wasn’t quite sure when exactly she had missed a clue. Perhaps she could have done something to stop what happened.

Anytime Barbara heard the tic-tac of the clock she started to sing again softly, she did not like the clock sound. The tic-toc kept reminding Barbara she had to leave the room at some point and that once she had done that she would have to carry those thoughts with her forever. She knew that she had to resolve it then while Papillon was there so that she could leave her in peace.

“I went down the crick just before dinner to get wood for the fire, I got my shoes wet too because it was already dark and I couldn’t see very well. You know Papillon? I never liked doing that job, the pathway to the crick is always very dark at night and the sound of the branches always creeps me up. I feel I can tell you this now. I get scared at times too, you know Papillon? Perhaps I missed something while I was away. How long did it take? I came back as soon as I could with the wood for the fire and things seemed the same as when I left.” Barbara wanted to ask Papillon what happened but she did not want to disturb her, she seemed so at peace on her sleep.

Barbara took Papillon’s hand, which was also very cold, and kept on singing Mr Sun, Barbara knew Papillon loved that song, and sometimes after they both have been singing it for a while Mr Sun came out.

Barbara looked at the drops going down through the window glass again and this time a tear went down her cheek. “Remember the first time I called you Papillon? Well… I remember it very well: I was doing my French homework and mother said it was my turn to play with you because she could not hear the TV with you talking so loud and she needed to do her nails too. I held you in my arms for the second time and I remember I wasn’t even sure I was doing it right. We played and played and played. I made you fly like a butterfly and you loved it. Every time I called you Papillon you laughed and laughed. Mother could have said she had just breastfed you and not just wait till you vomited all over me and my French homework to mention it.” Barbara smiled, while looking at Papillon’s pink purple cheeks. “That was not that long ago Papillon”. Barbara felt heavy and wasn’t sure she should be happy or sad. She wanted to get angry but at the same time she felt she had no energy left.

“After we had dinner I did the dishes as usual. This time mother added to my job’s list to hand-wash a pile of dirty towels and sheets which took me till nearly bed time and left my hands completely ripped. I checked on you and you seemed to be sleeping deeply. I gave you a kiss in your pink warm right cheek and then was when I realised I had not had a chance to look at my homework for the whole day. Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun, Please shine down on me”.

She could not tell why or how was it possible for this to happen. She was very close to her baby sister. Barbara could usually tell when something was going to happen to her little sister even if she was not in the house. She remembered that day her grandfather was babysitting Papillon and had forgotten to lock the baby chair. Barbara had to leave school early because she could not breath and in spite of Mrs McKenzie’s will to take her to the hospital she made it home immediately. Only to find Papillon crying and thankfully with just a small bleeding cut in her cheek while stacked between the baby chair and another chair under the table. Of course grandpa was nowhere to be found. And then that other time when Barbara was hanging the cloth on the line outside and suddenly felt the urgency to get back inside to check on Papillon. She got in just on time to prevent Papillon from drinking the nail polish remover from the bottle that her mother hadn’t realised had left on the table next to Papillon without the lid on.

Something she thought it was very strange. Yet, she had missed her that night. How was it possible? She thought. She will never play butterfly again with Papillon, she will never take her hand and make fun of Papillon’s tinny little non-existent nails anymore and that made Barbara very sad.

“It must have been after midnight when I put my head on the pillow then father came home. Had I been asleep I would have woken up anyway with such a noisy entrance father did when he got through the door. I wonder if the neighbours were awaken too with my father’s drunken and loud rambling. But…you didn’t wake up Papillon, you must have been very tired. I usually have to be very quiet when I go to bed because you wake up at the sightliest noise.”

Barbara stood in silence for a few minutes. The tic-toc of the clock seemed louder this time and the drops appeared to have gone down the glass as if in a rush.

“You know Papillon? The doctor said you left very early this morning. I think I may have heard you but I was too sleepy. I thought I was dreaming. I wish I was dreaming”. Barbara felt very tired and while looking at Papillon’s closed eyes she suddenly felt comforted and calm. Barbara knew she will miss her baby sister very much but she also knew she had gone to a much better place. Perhaps now she could really fly.

It was close to midday and the grey of the morning had turned yellow. Barbara was happy Mr Sun didn’t stand her up on that day. The drops of the window where slowly drying out and she though she had seen a butterfly flying outside the window. She did not want to say good-bye to Papillon but she knew she had to. Besides, Papillon will never leave her heart, she thought.

“You know I really liked playing with you Papillon, I really liked it”, she said, she kissed Papillon on her pink purple cold right cheek and held the tinny hand.

Barbara interrupted the path of a tear coming down her cheek with her sleeve and forced herself to leave the room. She had a long way to go.