I'm a morning person: that's when I get my best sleep in. I believe that most
evils can be cured by 10 hours' sleep and that alarm clocks should exist only
as supplemental punishment for prisoners.
You can imagine, then, how warm and fuzzy I felt when the phone began rrrrrringing
at 6 a.m. Some fool was alarming me from a remote location. It happened twice,
I staggered to the phone with dreams in my eyes. Some people call them tears.
I followed voice mail's helpful instructions: If you are calling from a telephone,
please press one... The messages came from my wife Yahaira, and I deny ever
using the word "fool."
"Honey, it's me. I know you're asleep, but it's an emergency..."
"Papi, I need you to pick up the phone..."
"Come on, Love, this one time..."
She didn't sound normal. Why do we even have a normal if it never sticks
around for two days at a time? Dialing Yahaira, I feared the worst. Car accident?
Fire? Nuclear war? She answered on the first ring, mid-sentence:
"There was a butterfly on my windshield wiper and I didn't know what
to do so I called you but you didn't pick up so I kept driving and then I
realized that it was going to die if I didn't stop so I pulled over again
and now it isn't moving..."
I checked the calendar for her monthly cycle. Still 10 days away.
"A butterfly on your windshield wiper?! Clearly it was suicide."
The joke made her cry. So it goes.
"I need you to come down here and help me bury it."
I knew when I married this woman that she was different and that I would
have to do "different" things. But she knew about sleep. I would
surrender chocolate, TV, and the right to vote before I parted with it.
She added in her baby voice, "Pweeeease."
I drew a deep breath, which denotes the death of my will, and got dressed
to bury a butterfly.
Yahaira was kneeling on the side of the highway, sculpting a mound of earth,
destroying a pair of nylons. Her eyes had crusted over. At the head of the
grave, two sticks were trying to be a cross but looked more like an X.
In the dirt wriggled two tiny worms, the kind you find among pill bugs underneath
Yahaira explained, "I tried to feed him, but it was too late."
I didn't have the heart to say that butterflies don't eat worms but evolve
"It's okay," I said.
"I killed him because I was too stupid to stop."
Yahaira took to picking butterfly fragments from her windshield and returning
them to the tomb. I watched as if from a dream, mainly because I was asleep.
I guess today R.I.P means "rest in pieces." I was smart enough
to keep that one inside.
While Yahaira paced for the pressure of her conscience, I wondered what
kind of world it would be if everyone valued life like this. What if our
government beat with such a heart? If Nature were so ardently guarded?
Yahaira started to place the windshield wiper itself on the grave, and I
had to step in. I always said that she would never hurt a fly. Looks like
I'd have to extend that to butterfly. I intercepted Yahaira and steered her
to the street. Drivers roared by, wondering what I did to the poor girl.
For want of caffeine, I repeated myself: "It's okay."
I asked Yahaira to phone her boss to say that a friend had died and hence
the delay, but she would tell the truth. She once notified Bank of America
when they over-credited our account by $1,000. My therapist and I have almost
worked through it.
Yahaira smiled when I told her that I wouldn't charge her with murder...this
time. She was coming back. One last glance at the butterfly burial ground,
and we started our cars. Even as we pulled away, those worms were devouring
the corpse of the butterfly. And I suppose that's okay too.