“What are you doing?”
It was my turn to ask the question. Propping my feet on the porch, I watched the butterfly jog mid-air, long spindly black legs peddling to nowhere.
“Running. On my new air treadmill.” He smirked at me. In the bright afternoon light, I could see his antennae glisten. “Did you see how skinny those Daddy Long Legs have gotten?” he continued, not breaking stride for a single word. “I can’t compete with that. Even the hummingbirds are looking leaner than usual. I have to keep up.”
I watched a few deer creep into the yard, making a dash for the big metal bucket filled with water for them. “Why do I feel like you’re trying to build up a big metaphor?”
“All I’m doing is working out,” the butterfly panted, flapping his wings faster than a blink. “Getting healthy.”
“Oh, go eat a aphid.” Tapping one toe against the railing, I continued, “I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to show me how I need to relax. Or you’re trying to encourage me to keep going– only two days and one week of school left.”
“That’s not true,” the butterfly wheezed. “With your degree and graduate certificate, there’s 54. You’ll only have 18 hours. You still have nine hours in the fall, and spring, and the summer, and the next fall after that…”
I chewed on the tip of my tongue, considering. “Perhaps you’re trying to tell me that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I have to focus on the end goal. Instead of stopping to watch everyone else and compare myself, I just need to keep my sights on the horizon. Like the Little Engine that Could, you know? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….”
The butterfly fluttered to the nearest flower, the only one the deer hadn’t munched to a stub, and collapsed. “You know,” he gasped. “I think exercise is overrated. That’s excruciating. Terrible. The most misery I’ve experienced since that bumble bee sucked all the pollen out of my favorite flower.”
“Because that’s what it’s about, isn’t it?’ I continued, ignoring his limp wings struggling to open and close, his antennae drooping with exhaustion. “The road goes on forever, and the party never ends. You just keep running because if you don’t, what are you going to do?”
“Forest Gump went home,” the butterfly observed wryly.
“Exactly! So as tired as I am, I’ve just got to keep going, because there’s so much more to see, to do, places to get to, things to do…” Above my head, the Daddy Long Legs trembled in the corner. The butterfly drank from the flower, the flutter of his wings growing quicker and stronger with every sip.
“You know, you keep running,” the butterfly said, returning for another sip. “I’m going to just sit here and relax, drink a little pollen, eat some aphids. Moderation in everything, you know.”
I laughed. “You’re a wimp, you know?”
“I’m not a wimp, I’m a butterfly.” The butterfly sniffed. “I’m to be admired, not to run marathons. We all do what we’re good at.”
“You are quite pretty,” I teased.
“Don’t I know it?” he tossed back.
So we sat there, me and him, watching the Daddy Long Legs shiver, the deer munch their corn and Mitzie the squirrel chatter from the trees.
The road goes on forever, and the party never ends.
Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! A new fun tale awaits!