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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24. Mermaid

It wasn't long before the girls started smelling a familiar salty scent as the car drove over what felt like a bumpy road. At another time, under different circumstances, it would have seemed like one big adventure they were on, but the beads of cold sweat on their faces and the palms of their hands proved that there was nothing exciting about what was happening to them. They were beyond afraid but too stunned to cry any more. This was more than any child should have to go through and they knew it. All their lives, they've been so well taken care of, protected from the dangers of the world, that only a scary movie on TV could have prepared them for something like this. Scary movies usually have happy endings though, with a hero to save the day. Little girls have daddies for precisely that purpose: to save the day. And to be the strong arms that give comfort after a bad dream or a bad day. Knowing that their father can never be their hero again was a bitter pill to swallow and made them feel lonely even though they had each other.

 

The sudden burst of sunlight blinded them for a moment when the boot of the car opened up. It was a sunny afternoon and seagulls squawked noisily all around. They were at the seaside. Whitey helped them out of the boot and the girls were marched towards a small jetty where a few boats were moored. Nobody spoke to them and they asked no questions. The young girl nervously had a good look around but she didn't recognise the place. It seemed to be part beach, part dumping ground by the look of it - most of the beach was strewn with planks and bits of boat, old green netting, wooden benches that looked like sharks had bitten through them, and washed-up seaweed. Was this where they were going to leave them? She thought about how long they had driven - it seemed like it had taken them hours to get here. There was no way they could walk back home from here. Lisa was pinching her nose but made no complaints about the fishy stink. Behind them, they heard the other members of the mullet gang talking about loading the loot onto the boat. There was a trailer hooked up to the car. Skinny was on lookout duty, so he stayed with the car.

 

The boat looked like an old fisherman's trawler with a new coat of yellow paint and the name 'Mermaid' in black fading away on the side of the boat. A step from the jetty onto the boat was already there. Whitey helped the girls onboard, and took them down a few stairs, inside the boat. It was a lot bigger on the inside than they would've thought. There was a table along one side of the cabin with wooden benches fixed to the floor and at the other end there was a mattress on the floor onto which Whitey threw the blanket and the pillows from the car boot. He grunted at them to sit down there and that's where they stayed. Over the next half an hour, they watched as first Mack, then Barney and then Whitey came onboard with one item after another - all their mother's belongings - and packed the loot along one wall of the cabin. The last few things that were carried onboard were the paintings from their living room and mother's bedroom and a certain shoebox that made Lisa whimper as soon as she laid eyes on it. Mack covered all of it with a big sheet and soon after that, Skinny joined his friends on the boat where they celebrated their day's hard work with a case of ice-cold beers.

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