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here now, gone tomorrow

published: 2018-01-30

Six years old. My father had a surprise for me. We were away for the weekend, there was a rented house, a beach. He told me to come with him and close my eyes. When I opened them I was staring at our car.
As I peered into the window, I discovered my best friend. She was laying on the back seat, flat on her back, her arms squeezed tightly against her body – dead serious about the task my dad had given her, to stay still.
My heart leaped. Excited and frightened too. Confused. Time was an abstraction for me. And so was distance. Had she been in the car all along? We played for a couple of days. And then she was gone.
That same holiday I saw a lady bird for the first time. We lived in the tropics, lady birds were a rarity. My mother explained what the dots on the back meant, that I could count his age. I stayed watching that ladybird for as long as I could. I noticed it had tiny little wings and the joy of that discovery pounded through me. I watched it drop off the branch, onto the street. The paved street meandered up a hill, into the skies. There were parrots, dragonflies, tropical flowers in abundance. All that mattered to me was the lady bird. When I returned to look for it later, it was gone.
This summer holiday in Greece, my son and I discovered a butterfly on the middle of the road, in the blazing sun. It was twisting and kept toppling over. It had lost a wing. I watched my son study the butterfly and forget time. We decided to put it in the shade. It did not want to leave his finger, it clung onto him.
“She wants to be with me,” he said, “she knows she’s safe with us.”
We filled a bottle cap with water and left it next to the butterfly, and a piece of fruit.
The next day, we returned to look for it.
It was gone.

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