When I was three, my aunt told me that butterflies were made of dust and that if you touched that dust with your finger tips, it would stick to you and then the butterfly wouldn't be able to fly as well. For some reason, I abandoned all desire to ever touch or, for that matter, come near a butterfly because I became vehemently afraid of their dust. This, then, translated to all dusty things, really all "fluffy" things including cotton candy (unless my dad squished it up so it was no longer a fluffy ball of sugar, but a compact and rather tasty ball of sugar), dust bunnies, caterpillars, and fog (which was really one giant fluffy cloud on earth).
My younger sister saved me from a giant lunar moth when I was eight. She had seen it on the ground under the swing in which I was happily pumping and pushing and told me not to look as she proceeded to step on the antennae in order to kill it. My dad realized what was happening and ran outside with an old Cool Whip container in order to salvage what he could of the moth. It was so green and so big; he figured his eighth grade science students might like to check it out. I passed out. My dad put the Cool Whip contained moth in the freezer thinking that was the best way to preserve a dead moth.
At three in the morning, the moth began beating its wings against the container. Thump. Thump. Thump. My dad went outside to release the one-antennaed moth into its life of freedom.
The next day, he gave my mom a black eye for not cleaning the kitchen.
Fast-forward twenty years, and I am driving west to California to begin my first college teaching job. I am listening to The Kite Runner on CD. Except for the pressure headache from the higher elevations, the drive is going smoothly. I am thinking about Dairy Queen ice cream.
A butterfly thumps into my window shield, falls slow motion like down the glass and is now stuck in my wiper blades. Everything inside me forces the car to not careen off of the highway. I watch as the butterfly continues to beat out its last few thump, thump, thumps against the window. What little bit of life that is left is waning. Finally, it dies. I pray that it will go away. Just go away. Just please make the dust go away. God, make it go away.
My world is consumed with butterflies. I feel sick. There is butterfly dust all around me and butterfly wings flutter and thump in my hair like a heart beat against a lovesick chest. I close my eyes in an attempt to not see the butterfly, remember I am driving, open my eyes.
I open my mouth to let out a frustrated and frightened scream and instead of noise, a cottony feeling consumes the inside of my mouth. I taste bitterness. A million butterflies climb, fly, tumble out of my mouth and into my car.