art by Alan Bao
Butterfly Shaped Objects
by George Potter
It was a gift, they said, that let her see the quiet, sun-drenched field as a rolling, primal sea. An artistic worldview that heralded great things and a bright future. The wild green grass and sudden bursts of flowers became breaking waves and tiny coral islands.
She was only seven when they noticed her strangeness. Charming at first, delightful almost. As she aged, it became mundane, then tiresome, and finally disturbing. It began young, that separation from the normal children.
It was a curse, they decided, to see the same field as a disguised piece of mechanical trickery, a violent beachhead in an invasion from some strange universe next door. The drifting pollen was a secret weapon, she swore. The swarming butterflies were clever robots, designed to charm while they spied upon the ignorant.
Special classes and tutors and doctors and tests came next. Why could the world not simply be the world, her well-intentioned tormentors asked her, again and again? Why could a field not simply be a field, a butterfly a pretty sight on a pleasant spring day?
"Because that would be a lie," was the only answer she could give. Because that was the only answer that was true.
"They're not angels or animals or insects," she informed her interviewers. "They're objects." Her voice steadily dwindled to a determined whisper. "The dead don't die," she assured them. "They just hide from the light and the sight of the judgmental. The living don't live--they just keep moving out of habit."