BUTTER FLIES

She was wearing a blue dress, trimmed with tartan ribbons.
There was a bad moment when it looked as though she meant to refuse, and then her face softened into a smile, and she turned, and came with him.
He led her to the conservatory doors.

"Come in quickly, and close the door."

"Am I safe?"

"With me, quite safe."

He closed the door behind her. At first, in the sunny green and glinting glass, he thought he had failed, and then, as though they had been waiting for her, the creatures came out of the foliage, down from the glassy dome,

darting, floating,

fluttering,

tawny orange, dark and pale blue, brimstone yellow and clouded white, damask dark and peacock-eyes, and danced round her head and settled on her shoulder, and brushed her outstretched hands.

"They take your dress for the sky itself," he whispered.

She stood very still, turning her head this way and that, More and more butterflies made their way through the air, more and more hung trembling on the blue sheen of the cloth, on the pearly-white of her hands and throat.

"I can brush them off" he said, "if you find them disagreeable.

"Oh no," she said, "They are so light, so soft, like coloured air-"

"It is almost a cloud"

"It is a cloud. You are a miracle-worker."

"It is for you."

Fall'98