Butterflies and Moths

That woman, nobleblood, he had called her.

You didn’t know her like that. The two of you leapt from swings, slapping across the hot pavement into the pool, rust in your hands. Listen to the way you insisted it was just a game. Listen to the way with a tilt of your heads you could lift sweet rascal from all of your teachers.

It was her job to come up with the script. To tell you who had powers, who didn’t, wait for your turn. To never play truth or dare, it was all dare, all nest of snakes. Lost skin, jeweled egg, new venom. You would bring her anything. To watch her slide cross the creek, sheathed in ice, the snow stopped long enough to see the sky. You followed on your knees.

Off script: she taught you how to lie to your mother. Pluck the burrs from your skirt and check your teeth for mulberry strands. Here, she pressed the leaves, dusted like paprika into your palms. Caterpillar eggs grow on the veins. Let the butterflies hatch in your room, she sighs. I’m tired of playing with moths.  

He saw her that night. Pearls laid across her sun-kissed throat, lips encased in scarlet. She must have learned new powers, darker and sweeter than any berries you tasted together. You wonder if she still smells of pine.

And when he runs after her, you don’t blame him. She was always better at pretend. 

Star Su is a Chinese-American writer. She hails from Michigan and is currently an undergraduate at Brown. 

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