Year of the Butterfly

Life goes on.. even when you lose someone you love, even when you don't know what to think, how to feel, how to act and what to say. Everything will be okay, is what people like to say, but it won't and you know it. All you can do is bury your grief and hide, and hope on the surface at least life will appear to be normal. Is there any hope?
This is a story of a young girl battling with the loss of her father. Accompany her on a journey of self-discovery and misadventure as she negotiates her way through bereavement and processes the unanswered questions. Along the way, there are dreams, visions and schemes, at least one golden urn and a kidnapping. Her story is about a metamorphosis from pain into renewal and growth. Her destination is a place of hope with a promise of healing.

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13. A storm looms

There’s nothing like riding your bike as fast as you can with your hair flying loose behind you! And it only gets better when you are free to do what you want and you have an exciting mission ahead of you. I can't remember if Lisa and I ever had so much fun together, just the two of us. We’re always arguing or bugging each other. She has her friends and I have mine. She’s a girly girl and I’m a tomboy. We couldn't be more different. But here we are pedalling our bikes, dressed the same, and for once I don't wish I was with someone else. Of course she doesn't know the whole truth about what we're doing today because she doesn't know about the mullet gang sitting outside our house and school, watching us. It’s better that she doesn't know. We’re just going to look and listen, then we'll go home and if we find out anything useful about these guys, I’ll give Mommy the car's number plate and just tell her I’ve noticed the car following us around. She doesn't need to know the rest.

In the meantime, there's something magical in the air. It feels like we're doing something important, like we're going to be heroes or something. I know Lisa feels the same way and that's why she can't stop giggling. Maybe the weather has something to do with it too. The sky is full of clouds but they are only light grey and it's actually a bit warm. As we're cycling, I can hear thunder rumbling far away in the distance. It might rain, as Peggy warned it would, but only much later I think. There’s a breeze keeping us cool and the air feels fresh, like early morning. We’ve just passed the park and now we're slowing down to make sure we are going the right way. Lisa has stopped giggling and she's got her serious face on. She reminds me of the name of the street where we're going. So far everything looks familiar. Here’s the stop street they ran. Just a few more turns up ahead... "Sis, let's stop here for a second." We are about 4 houses away from the mullet gang's hideout. "What do we do now?" Lisa is breathing hard. "First let’s catch our breaths. Are you okay?" "100%!" Another giggle. "Good cycling, Sis. The second thing we need to do is make sure nobody will see us when we go closer to number 13. As soon as we're sure, we'll run over to that bush right under the front windows. I’m sure we can wiggle in behind that and it's nice and thick. We’ll be able to see them, but they won't see us." The breeze is blowing a bit stronger, so we tie up our hair and put on our caps. "And what are we going to do with our bikes?" Dammit. Lisa can see I didn't prepare for this. "It’s okay. Look over there." She’s pointing at a big tree between the two houses that reaches the street, but on the other side of the tree, there’s a low wall running to the back of the houses. There are some bushes in front of number 11's side of the wall. "Maybe we can hide our bikes behind those bushes there." "Perfect! Well spotted Sis!" I’m checking my watch to see how long we've been out here. 15 minutes. We’ve seen nobody in the street. The yellow car isn't in the driveway. The front windows of number 13 are closed and I can see the curtains are too. "Right Sis, time to move. We’ve got to cross the street here and walk slowly to number 11. Remember to keep looking at me and talking to me. We’re just 2 kids hanging out." Lisa is doing exactly as I said and now we're on number 11's lawn. Lisa is sitting on the lawn, keeping a lookout while I put our bikes behind the bushes against the wall. I’m crouching down and she crawls over to the wall.

"It’s obvious they're not home yet because the car's not here. Last time they parked the car here in the driveway. So let's get behind that bush quickly and get comfortable. We might have to wait a while." Lisa grabs my hand and we run around the big tree, we're keeping low and now we're in behind the bushes, up against the wall, under the windows of number 13. Lisa hasn't let go of my hand. She’s holding it pretty tightly. "Sis, are you scared?" She whispers back that she isn't and lets go of my hand. Somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbles again and I can feel her body stiffen beside me. "Listen, I’m going to get out from here quickly and stand in front of the bushes. Just to make sure we can't be seen, okay? And if I can even see you up close, then we'll forget about it and go home. Okay?" She nods but grabs my hand again as I get up. "No, don't leave me here!" "Sis, I’m not going anywhere and I have to do this or else you're going to be scared the whole time. I’ll be right back." I slip out from behind the bush and run about a meter from it. I’m right in the middle of the front lawn of this house and I know I’m taking a huge risk. My heart is beating so fast, it feels like it wants to jump out of my chest. Even if I screw up my eyes, I still can't see Lisa behind there. Good. That’ll put her mind at ease. "Sis, I promise you, I could not see you. Isn’t it a good thing I didn't let you dress like a Christmas tree?" Okay, that got her giggling again. We’re settling in and getting out the water and sweets. "So they can't see us, that's for sure, but we’ve got to be as quiet as mice; so chew with your mouth closed." "I don't chew with--" I put my hand over her mouth. "Shh!" Now she's moaning at me because I put my hand over her mouth and don't I know that my hands are full of germs, bla bla bla, but at least she's whispering.

All this excitement's got me hungry. I wish we'd brought something else to eat with us. I could've made some peanut butter sandwiches. The thunder is getting louder and it sounds as if it's coming closer. I hope these guys hurry up and get here already, so we can get out of here before it starts raining. The clouds have gone darker and the wind's also getting stronger now. Actually we don't feel it so much behind this bush. We’re sitting flat on the ground, which is still nice and warm. "What’s the time?" "Um, almost 3 o'clock. Why? Have you got a date tonight?" She's not laughing, so I know she's still scared. Or bored, I don't know. I take off my watch. It’s my first watch ever and it's got little dolphins all around the strap. It’s a bit lame but Daddy gave it to me when I turned 9 and I just wear it sometimes, for luck. I put it on Lisa's wrist. It’s too big for her but I think it'll take her mind off things for a while. "Why are you giving me this? Daddy gave it to you." "I know. Don’t get excited. You can't have it. I’m just letting you borrow it. Watch that long hand. If it goes all the way round again and the short hand is on the 4, then we're leaving, no matter what. Okay? So you're in charge of the time." And then I have my cell phone too. It’s working - she's not taking her eyes off the watch. It’s a good thing too because a bolt of lightning has just lit up the sky but she doesn’t notice it. Where are these guys? I didn't come out here with my baby sister for nothing! Wouldn’t it be funny if they were sitting outside our house right now, staking it out while we're right outside their house? Suddenly I’m thinking how crazy this is. We’re hiding outside the house of complete strangers in a neighbourhood we don’t know, while a storm is coming on. Oh crap. I thought I was doing this to protect myself from these creepy guys, but now I’ve got myself and my little sister in trouble instead, pretending to be spies. What was I thinking? Idiot! "Sis, we've got to get out of here." She looks confused. "What! Why?" There's no time to explain or argue, so I start pulling at her sweater. "Come, this was a big mistake. Let’s go before those guys come and then we're stuck." She pulls her sleeve back and looks crossly at me. "We just got here! What about the stakeout?" I’m pulling harder at her arm now. The watch breaks loose and falls off her wrist. "You’re hurting me!" "Don't argue with me. There’s no crime, no mission. Let’s just go home, please. Mommy’s going to kill us!" I know I’m making no sense to her but we're wasting time. "Look, we'll go by the shop on the way home and I’ll buy you a lolly or whatever. Come on! Why won't you listen to me? I’m older than you!"

***

They are so busy arguing about leaving that they don't see the yellow car driving up...

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