Priyanka Bose

Flown Away Butterflies

The phone rang twice. Not wanting to wake from my reminiscing, I attempted to distance myself from the ringing noises. Silence. “Priyanka, Nadia’s on the
phone,” my father yelled from upstairs.

“Nadia! I’m home!” I yelled into the receiver enthusiastically.

“Pri - where are you?” she asked mousely, a first for the usually ape-like friend of mine.

“Um, everything alright, Nads? You don’t sound all too thrilled that I’m home.” The silence continued.

“I think you need to sit down,” she whispered into the phone as if she
were about to give me bad news. I immediately knew that she would play
a joke on me and instinctively I took another approach and hopped
myself up onto the counter. Standing and dancing on the granite
countertop, I was careful not to hit my head. The silence was replaced
by what I couldn’t distinguish as either laughter or tears. Believing
it to be the former, I continued to dance and bump my head. “Jenny’s
dead.”

                                        * * *

The air conditioning in the new math and science building was once again
faltering. With the stress of exams on the forefront, there was no time
to ponder the unearthly stench coming from this particular classroom,
where fourteen girls crammed together were pressing for air from the
newly replaced windows that were jammed, while calculating the slope of
a straight line. Jenny was sitting next to me and as usual, she was
drawing caricatures of our fellow classmates. Jenny was the rebel yet
continued to be the most popular girl, an attribute I always envied. I
was the nobody that people always asked to copy the math homework from.
On this particular day, the day before exams, Jenny was clearly in one
of her moods. Her picture depicted Christy, the fierce hockey goalie of
our class, in an act of self-mutilation with her hockey stick.
Pretending not to notice, I continued to distract myself with slopes
and asymptotes. Ms. G, our usually sheepish math teacher asked, “Jenny,
care to share with the class whatever it is you are working on, albeit
math I’m sure.” Jenny flashed her a smile and held up her drawing. The
class took one glance at the worrisome picture and fell into a school
of fits. I looked at Ms. Gerdes who met back my look with a similar
hint of worrisome in her eyes as she attempted to regain control of the
class.

                                        * * *

Finishing the math exam with half an hour to spare, I turned around with the
expectation of seeing my fellow math genius. Contrary to my belief, I
was greeted with an empty seat and an unopened math paper. I quickly
turned around and once again met the worrisome glance of Ms. G. The
bell rang, and while my fellow classmates tried to grab my attention to
exchange math queries, I grabbed Nadia’s hand and dragged her out of
the stuffy building into the sweltering heat. “What the hell, man?” She
pulled away. “Jenny’s not here. We have to go call her.”

Mrs. A, the middle school principal greeted us harshly as we walked into her
office. “Girls I’m sorry, but today is not the best day to chat.” She
responded while scuttling us out of her office.

“I just need to call Jenny - she’s not here.”

“I have already spoken to Jenny’s family, Jenny will not be returning.”

It was a Thursday, which meant I was supposed to go home with Jenny.
Feeling abandoned, I continued to walk around crying. A car honked and
I turned around to see my father pulling up. We had been in the car
about fifteen minutes, fifteen minutes of continuous silence, before he
spoke, “Jenny’s dad called. You won’t be seeing Jenny for a while.” I
immediately broke down once again. I was to move in three weeks to
London. Would I not get to say goodbye? I was in a world of my own by
now and failed to hear the cell phone ring. I hesitantly answered.

“It’s Nads, they’re all lying to us.” Understanding my confused silence
she continued, “Jenny did something last night, she overdosed.” To my
surprise, this came as no surprise to me.

My father turned to me and could tell I knew.

“We’re doing this for your own good. You’re not allowed to talk to her or see
her for a while. It’s for your own good.” I never got to say goodbye.


                                        * * *

She’s saying goodbye and leaving tonight / She’s wasted all her lonely teardrops now. They were playing her favorite song “Saying Goodbye” by Sugarcult. She kisses everyone goodbye / and waves her middle finger high / they’re never gonna mess with her again. Jenny’s sister, Steph, stood up at the podium and spoke the words of Jenny’s diary, providing a truth and closure as to why Jenny did this.

A hundred balloons were waiting, red and black balloons. Jenny always
used to say that if you wrote a message on a balloon and if it was
filled with enough love, it would never seize to deliver. I looked over
and saw Jenny’s mom. She had taught us how to tie our shoelaces, tucked
us to sleep and kissed our cuts and bruises. But, the woman I saw now
looked different from the caring mother I had known. She didn’t speak
but bore the face of relief and salvation. A mother, who only wanted
the best for her child, and this was what Jenny wanted, she was happy
now. She gave me a hug and without saying a word, I understood. Jenny’s
act was selfish, but at the same time she set not only herself, but
also those who loved her free. Jenny wasn’t happy in this world, the
burden of her sadness was now gone and along with it the worries of
those who loved her. She would be happy now. With enlightenment came
tears. The tears I had hated myself for not being able to shed were now
pouring down. My father took my hand and we left for the airport.


                                        * * *

The butterfly garden was opened on Jenny’s birthday, in her memory.
Jenny loved butterflies and in many ways she was a butterfly herself.
The last poem she wrote: Spread your wings and prepare to fly / You’ve finally become a butterfly.




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