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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26. Rocking the boat

At first, I was freaked out by what was happening but then I realised it wasn't happening to me and Lisa. It was almost as if... Well, I’m not scared any more. Actually, I’m excited about it! My plan was just to have a little fun with them and tease them that Daddy’s haunting the boat, but the more I thought about it, the more I believed it myself. It has to be Daddy's way of telling us that he's here to help us, to save us! "You see, Sis, it's the only explanation for all of this! Daddy’s trying to send us a message - just like he did before." Lisa is looking at me as if I’m mad. "What are you talking about? Are you going crazy?" We're whispering, but I hope those two can hear us because I want them to be very, very scared. "Listen Sis, we promised not to keep secrets any more, right? Well, I have one to tell you. A big one!" Lisa's eyes are wide with curiosity. "Remember that day when you found me in Mommy's room with the urn lying on the floor next to me?" She gulps and nods. "Sorry I told on you. I didn't mean to get you into trouble. I was jealous because I thought you looked inside and I wanted to see what it looked like too." "Oh don’t worry about that. I want to tell you what happened that day. How I ended up on the floor." As I’m telling her about the light and the voice that spoke to me, and then about the dreams I’ve had, I see from the corner of my eye that Whitey and Skinny have stopped talking and are now listening to me too. I’m pretending not to notice them. "So you see, Daddy wanted me to find him. And he must be nearby, like he said in my dream, which is why all this weird stuff is happening."

A swish-and-plop sound interrupts me.  Whitey and Skinny turn to see where the sound is coming from and walk over to the other side of the pile of loot where they moved the shoebox and other items. We can't tell what’s happened, but from the looks on their faces and the way they're looking at us now, I can imagine. "It looks like the sheet is off again, Sis!" Lisa has been frowning since we woke up but now her face is slowly turning into a broad relieved smile. "Is it really true?" "What do you think? Aunty Mary says that we all have guardian angels looking after us. I think it's either our angels, yours and mine, working together to help us or it's Daddy!" "Okay, enough of that rubbish now! You’re mistaken, little girl. Your Daddy's urn isn't here. It’s at the house. So much for your ghost story. Now just let me hear a peep from you two and then you'll see what I look like when I’m fed up. Skinny, pull yourself together. I can't be looking after 3 girls." "Right, sorry, Whitey. I’ll brew us some coffee. Maybe it’s better if we both stay awake, huh?" Whitey grunts and sighs as he sits down at the table and looks at the pile of stuff from one end to the other. Lisa is cupping her hand over my ear. "He’s lying. I know that's the box I saw Daddy's urn in." "Don’t worry, Sis. I believe you. Whitey doesn't know what to do, so he's lying to us because he thinks that'll make my story untrue. Now, we'd best stay quiet and try to sleep. Daddy’s watching over us, so we have nothing to worry about." I’m so happy, I could cry. I wonder what else Daddy will do to scare them some more. It’s so funny what happened to Skinny's ice cream!!

***

Day 6. By sunrise, Whitey and Skinny were exhausted and extremely grumpy. They did their best not to take their eyes off the pile of loot all night long but a few times during the night, they had to blink or yawn. Whenever and however it happened, somehow the shoebox moved from one end of the pile to another. After a while they just left it alone and avoided looking at each other. They chose not to tell Mack or Barney about it and looked very relieved to be on their way. It was Mack and Barney's turn to spend the day on the boat. The only thing Whitey made sure to tell them was that the girls shouldn't know that their father's urn was onboard or else they wouldn't stop bawling. Barney had secretly thought all along that Whitey was too nice to the girls, but since he realised Whitey and Skinny were both okay with Mack’s terrible plan for the girls after they get their money, he's been really confused. He’s still a bit uneasy about Mack’s plan but it was made quite clear that he has no other choice but to go along with it. Mack told him to give the girls breakfast and he's done that. Mack needed to go out for a while and leave him alone with them, so he's been watching them like a hawk. Mack has now come back to the boat and keeps finding things for Barney to do, so he does them. He’s learnt his lesson - he won't argue with Mack again. It’s too dangerous. He’s not so sure any more that he's like the other guys. It wasn’t easy getting into this gang and his uncle gave him a hard time about the tattoo and hairstyle, but he thought they were cool. Anyway, his uncle is too busy to bother him in his business, so it's been easy to fool his uncle and aunt into thinking he has a part-time job. But now, things are getting out of control and he's still hoping Mack changes his mind about what to do with the girls.

"Two days to go, ladies! Two more days and then my friends and I will be out of your lives forever! How about that?" Mack is doing his usual teasing act but the girls don't seem to realise the danger they're in because they don't look scared one bit. "Oh no, Barney, look! They’re giving us the silent treatment again. I thought we'd moved past that by now, Minnie and Mouse. We’re friends, aren't we?" He's sniggering and takes the young girl's cell phone from his pocket. "Time to check in with supermom." He dials her number and waits. "Oh hello mom! How’s my money doing today?" ... "Yes, I’ll put them on in a second, but first tell me about your progress." ... "And you've remembered to keep the police out of this, I suppose?" ... "Yeah! Doesn’t that just annoy you? Those bankers think it's their money you're asking them for! I bet it wasn't that difficult putting the money into the bank. But you're doing a good job, mom. Just keep on doing it." ... "Sure you can say more than just hello! Here’s Mouse. Hold on." He's already got his knife out and he's waving it in front of Lisa's face. "H-hello Mommy." "Oh my sweetheart, are you doing okay?" "Yes, it's okay Mommy. I want to come home, Mommy! I don't want to stay here--" "Oops! That’s enough, little lady. Can’t have you telling your mom where you are now, can I? Your turn, Minnie, and watch it!" The young girl doesn't even say hello or goodbye to her mother - she just repeats the same thing over and over until Mack takes the phone from her. Mack, Barney and even Lisa are all looking at her strangely, probably thinking that she's losing her grip on reality. Mack says goodbye to the distraught mother and reminds her who the boss is...

The day passes uneventfully and the girls take naps in-between reading and talking softly. Lisa is really worried about her sister and as soon as she's sure their kidnappers aren't paying attention, she cups her hand over her sister's ear and asks, "Why did you keep saying that to Mommy?" The young girl smiles at her little sister. "So you want to know why I told Mommy 'I miss my Teddy' over and over again?" Lisa nods and tries to blink away the worry. The young girl doesn't say a word. All she does is pull her ear three times.

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