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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15. Mouse-trap

Day 1. It becomes clear right from the start who the leader of the mullet gang is: the driver. He bosses everyone around and the others just do as they're told. They call him Mack - short for Mack the Knife. Mack has instructed his cronies to check around the house in case there's anything or anyone else suspicious lurking about, and in the meantime, he is tying the 2 girls up. He shows at least some mercy by tying them up together at the wrists and although the bonds are tight, it gives them some comfort to be joined together rather than being tied up separately. He sits them down on a smelly green sofa and leaves them alone for a few minutes. He comes back with his clothes changed and shortly afterwards, his mates re-enter the house and they all pull up chairs to sit down, facing the girls on the sofa. Mack the Knife is sitting with his one elbow on his knee, rubbing his chin, and stares at the girls. "So! What are your names then?" No reply. "What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?" The others laugh and make mewing sounds. "You! I’m talking to you. What’s your name?" Silence. He’s getting angry now. "Barney, this is your find. What are their names?" He's talking to the familiar-looking guy who is now looking unsure of himself. "I didn't know you wanted me to find out their names." Mack glares at Barney and Barney looks down at the fading, ragged brown carpet. "All right, girlies. If you want to play games, I can play too. How about I cut off one of your fingers if you don't tell me your names?" With that he pulls out a knife from nowhere and waves it front of their faces. The girls shriek at the same time and finally the young girl speaks. She can feel her baby sister's body shaking next to hers and prays her own voice doesn't shake too. "My name is Minnie and hers is Mouse." Sniggers echo through the room. Even Mack is smiling. "I see! We have a comedienne in our midst! Happy to make your acquaintance, Minnie. And you Mouse. Mm, very cute, Minnie sticking up for her little sister like that, isn't it guys? We’ve got ourselves a little tough cookie here. That’s fine, I can't stand wimps. Right Barney?" After more sniggering, Barney's looking around at the others, gradually turning the colour of beetroot.

"Ladies, welcome to our humble home. You’ve done us a huge favour, you know?" He gets up and starts walking slowly around the sofa. "My friends and I paid your house a visit today and we had hoped to see your lovely faces, but no luck. And then we come here and surprise! There you are, hiding in our bushes! So thanks for that. I was beginning to think today was a complete waste." Now he's sitting down on one arm of the sofa. "What I would really love to know now is: What were you doing hiding in our bushes?" He pokes the young girl hard on the arm. "Ouch! We were digging up worms." "Oh, you think that's funny, huh? I’ll slap you--" Barney jumps up from his seat and moves quickly over to the sofa, but Mack stops him in his tracks. "What’s the matter with you? It’s funny. Lighten up, dude! And don't any of you lot get slaphappy with our merchandise! You know, you don't get much for spoilt goods nowadays." Now he's sitting on the other arm of the sofa. The way he's moving around them is making the girls nervous and Lisa has now started whimpering. "Now precious ladies, I can't have you two bawling all night long so what do you say if we introduce ourselves and then we can all be new best friends, shall we?" He starts with the tall thin guy with the straight light brown hair and blue eyes. He’s got a flashy golden chain around his neck that looks like it's dragging his neck down making him stoop slightly. He calls him Whitey. The short red-haired guy next to him has a big stomach and marks in his face. He’s got silver studs going all the way up both of his ears. He calls him Skinny. Then there's curly-haired Barney who's wearing purple pants and a green t-shirt, and looks like a goofy bear. He looks like the youngest of the lot. None of them can be older than their early 20’s. Compared to his scruffy friends, Mack himself looks very clean and neat except for the mullet and a tattoo of a snake on his lower left arm. He is of medium height and has dark hair and dark glistening eyes that can bore holes into you. It’s obvious these are not their real names.

"Now we can get to know each other better!" He sits back down on his chair and crosses his legs. "I bet you two are wondering why I’m so interested in you, huh? Actually it isn't that we were just dying to meet you, we’re dying to meet your house, and everything in it! Ha ha ha ha!" He's slapping his leg and the other guys follow his cue. "You see, my little mice, a little birdie told us that your family is loaded. In fact, you've got so much money, you don't know what to do with it! So we thought that we would help you out a bit. Isn’t that nice of us?" He's up again, walks over to where Barney's standing, and puts his arm around his shoulder. "Actually it wasn't a little birdie, it was this big teddy bear Barney who gave us the good news!" He pats Barney on the stomach. "Thanks, Barney!" Now Barney's beaming with pride and gives the girls a menacing look that makes Lisa whimper again. "But it's been really hard getting anywhere near your house. You never leave that house alone! We should know. We’ve been watching it for over 3 months now and I have to tell you, it was getting really boring. Barney here did very well at finding you lovely ladies, but I’m sorry to say, he's been crap at finding out exactly what you're worth." And with that, he gives Barney a slap on the back of his head, and returns to his seat. "But I trust that Barney is learning all the time and will do better next time, won't you Barney?" Barney mumbles an answer. "Then on one fine spring day, we saw you packing your suitcases into the boot of your mom's fancy car and I thought, finally, they’re going on holiday - the house is ours! But then that big man came and pulled his car into your garage. Who was that? An uncle? And it was obvious he was there to stay with your big sisters. So again, our Sunday afternoon plans were ruined. Now Skinny over there might eat a little too much at times and I know he was checking out the snacks you carried into the car, but my man Skinny has excellent eye-sight! And do you know what he saw your mom carrying from the house and putting inside the car? This big shiny golden vase. That’s when Barney's brain grew back and he told us that vase was made from top to bottom of pure solid gold! Apparently that's where your mom put your dad's remains. My deepest sympathies, by the way. That's a tough break for two little girls. But, such is life!"

The girls' eyes are growing bigger and bigger with every word that comes out of Mack’s mouth. "You took it!" And despite her best efforts, the young girl feels tears streaming down her face. Both of them are crying now. "Shut up! If you can't be quiet, I’ll gag both of you with some of Skinny's socks!" They're all sniggering again. "Mack, I sprayed my feet today, like you told me to do. So you'll have to gag them with something else." "No boys, we don't have to worry about these two giving us problems, right ladies? If they were smart enough to find us, then... Uh, by the way, why did you come here and how did you two get here?" Silence. "Don’t make me take out my knife again. Mouse! Do you speak? Or do you only squeak?" Now they're roaring with laughter. "We walked here. I recognised your car and I guessed you were crooks. We were only playing detective. When we saw you at the park one day, we followed you back here. Now leave my sister alone!" Mack looks astonished. "Well I never... You two are quite the G.I. Janes, huh? Or is it Batgirl and Robin? And I suppose no one knows you're here, right? I can't imagine your mom letting you wander about on your own like this. Did you give her the slip and decide to play heroes?" Now Mack’s face is turning serious and his eyes are glowering darkly at the girls. "Yes, we took the golden vase, or whatever it is. And that was just the beginning! This wasn't quite part of my plan but I think it will work just as nicely having you ladies visiting for a few days. Right guys?" They're all nodding and looking mean. Mack claps his hands loudly and sighs. "Well, is that my stomach growling, Skinny, or yours as usual? Time for dinner. Whitey, sort us out with some pizzas and don't forget the beers. You two: behave. Make yourself comfortable. Mi casa es su casa!" Immediately the 4 men leave the lounge and the girls can hear a television being turned on in another part of the house. They are now alone and it isn't long before they're both crying softly. There’s nothing to say. They know they are in deep, deep trouble.

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