I’ll Stop Crying When You Come Home – Third Letter

The snow has melted and it’s gotten a bit warmer since last I wrote to you. Of course it’s still nowhere near spring, and more snow can still fall. And it probably will. But still it feels good to have a little warmth in the air again.
Mr. McGrath offered me a job down in the shop, and I think I’m going to take it. Just until you get home again of course, but maybe it will help me to think about something else than the war, and that I miss you. Because I think about that all the time, I really do.
I heard someone tell a story down at the shop today. It was while we were listening to the radio, an old man began to tell it to us. None of us had said anything to him, he just began speaking, out of the blue. Maybe he told it because he could see I was sad. I really try not to show it, but it’s hard sometimes. But anyhow, it was like this:
“You know the story about the two butterflies and the wind?” the man asked us.
And since I didn’t I said: “No can’t say I do.”
And Mrs. McGrath hadn’t heard it either, so the man began to tell it:

Once upon a time there were two butterflies, and they were flying around in the sun, happy since they knew nothing of how big and cruel the world is and they knew nothing of the cold winter too. So they were happy, just flapping around their wings, playing tag among the leaves and branches of the lilac, and enjoying the sunshine. And they loved each other too, those two beautiful butterflies, and someday they were going to have a lot of small caterpillars together.
But then the wind came, hard and cruel as only the winds down south can be, and Mr. and Mrs. Butterfly got awfully scared and tried to hold on to anything that would keep them from getting pulled away from each other. But their struggle was futile against the heavy wind and Mr. Butterfly was grabbed by it and blown off towards the great sky. Maybe he yelled something to Mrs. Butterfly, but she could not hear it for the roar of the wind.
And that way Mr. Butterfly was taken away from his beautiful wife, and he was blown almost to the end of the world, where he saw many strange and terrible things. But all the while, he was thinking about his wife back home. And wherever he went and wherever the strong winds were carrying him, he was thinking of her. And he asked the strange and alien insects that he met on his way, if they had ever known such love as he felt now, being so far from her and all.
But however strong his wish was to see his wife again, he could do nothing against the strong winds that dragged him along.

Then some woman asked Mrs. McGrath to find something for her, and Mrs. McGrath said to the man: “Don’t you go nowhere, Mister. I’ll be right back to hear the end of that story.” And when she came back the man went on:

So Mr. and Mrs. Butterfly didn’t see each other for a long time, and Mrs. Butterfly spent an awfully lot of time sitting on her green leaf crying, because she was missing her husband so much.
And then one day, a beetle came by and heard Mrs. Butterfly’s whimpering. He said: “What are you sitting there crying for, little miss?” And he dried her eyes with those long antennas of his.
And Mrs. Butterfly told him the whole terrible story, and he took pity on her, and did not have the heart to eat her, for that had indeed been his very plan all along. Did you know that butterflies are the beetle’s preferred eating?
However, since the beetle did not know any way to help Mrs. Butterfly to get out of her misery, all he could do was to wipe off her tears with his antennas for a while and then he left, leaving her only with the wishes that everything would be all right and that she would see her husband again before long.
None of this had helped Mrs. Butterfly much, and she knew that nothing could ever make her happy again, if she didn’t see her beloved husband again.
And then, to make matters worse, the rain began to fall. And as you probably know, while rain can be a nuisance to us people, it is a very dangerous thing for butterflies, and even one single drop can do things to a butterfly that we would not dare to speak out in the open. So the crying Mrs. Butterfly sought shelter beneath one of the biggest leaves that she was able to find, and she waited, and waited, and waited even longer, scared, cold, and exhausted.

And then another customer came up to Mrs. McGrath to ask for something, but Mrs. McGrath gave sign to her to wait. I guess she was too excited about hearing the end of the story to let anything get in between.

And as she waited, and the days went by, the summer grew old, and there was still no sign of her missing husband. Not until she heard a frail voice in the distance. At first she could not recognize it, and she could not hear what it was saying. But as it got closer she felt that there was something familiar about this voice, and she got out from under the leaf where she had been hiding. Her wings were sore after not being used for such long time. And she flapped them, like butterflies do, and rose into the air and the late summer’s golden sunlight.
And there, in the distance, she saw a tiny shape, flying in the air and slowly coming closer. It was of course Mr. Butterfly, and though his wings had been torn and worn by the long travel, he went as fast as his wings could carry him towards the place where he vaguely saw the shape of his wife. And they met in a warm embrace and Mr. Butterfly told Mrs. Butterfly, that all the time he had been away, he had felt the weight of her tears, and that had showed him the way home.
And they lived, of course, happily ever after, among the leaves of the lilac.

More women had gathered in front of the counter in the shop, but they didn’t mind that Mrs. McGrath did not attend them, I guess they were as anxious to hear how the story ended as we were. When the old man had finished the story he asked for a packet of cigarettes, and he did look a bit disappointed as Mrs. McGrath demanded its full price. But I can understand her, these are hard times and there’s not much we can do about it.

I never heard that story before, but I think it was very beautiful, and somehow it fits our situation very well, so I wanted to tell it to you too. I’d like to think that the two butterflies are us, and that we too will sit between the green leaves in the warm sunshine.
By the way, the small birds have already finished the pellets of food I got for them, so I had to buy new ones to put up. Hungry little devils! But who can blame them, sitting out there in the blistering cold. I feel pity for them when I sit in the kitchen and look at them through the window.
I hope you get some time to read my letters. You’re of course very busy over there, but I’d really like to hear from you, and hear you tell me something about all that’s happening. It must be exciting, scary too, but still, a little exciting to see these new places. I wish I could be there with you, and that this war would be over.

Kisses,
Lisa.

______
“I’LL STOP CRYING WHEN YOU COME HOME”
A short story consisting of seven letters from newly-wed Lisa to her husband Johnny, who has been sent to the war.
Copyright © 2007 by Biyang Hansen. All rights reserved.

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~ by Biyang Hansen on October 1, 2007.

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