The March of Yellow Butterflies
By Britney Phan
Two women talk as the world comes to an end.
The old woman possessed an inclination unlike anything else on Earth, which had made her astutely clairvoyant of the final, all-consuming storm that would soon destroy the town. As she sat in her favorite wicker rocking chair, Pilar recalled the history of the village that she had always known as Macando: full of men who hailed from fantastical legends and women who had brought them down with just the single barrel of their guns (years later, she’d come to interpret the lifetimes of their descendants across paper cards adorned with mystic symbolism); and in the brothel where she stayed, awaiting life’s last few moments, they were revived in brief glimpses of her memories as she looked to the sky ahead, feeling strange and supernaturally perceptive in the room that she both lived and died in, thinking nothing but that it was only the natural course of life. So she knew with a psychic conviction. This was the end. But this was also the beginning.
Through the window, the faint smell of rain was just starting to gather. An omen, no doubt. A warning. It rarely rained in the small village where summers seemed to bleed into sweltering decades marked by the merciless strike of the sun. Ursula, newly sprung into life and armed with great truths that went beyond the realm of living, found herself alive amongst the cockroaches seeking solace between the cracks of the brothel’s walls, and was overwhelmingly filled with the nostalgic urge to discard them. “Must these people leave everything to rot?” she asked to no one in particular, and Pilar cracked a small smile, but decided not to say anything.
Of course, it would be by some cruel twist of fate that the spirits had brought them back here again, joined together for a greater, unexplained purpose, left to pick at the pieces which everyone else had left behind. Ursula faced the other woman for the first time since she had woken up, marked with an unmistakable determination that once halted wars and had outlived the remainder of the Buendia family. “I never understood what my sons saw in you,” she told her truthfully, and like that, got up to place her hand above Pilar’s rocking chair. The winds began to blow stronger. “I know,” Pilar said, lifting her frail hand to catch any semblance of the breeze, “but we’ve done a good job here, haven’t we?” There was nothing now except for the storm, the town that would be ravaged by it, and then, after all of the destruction, was supposed to be their second opportunity on Earth, abandoned by their creators, and only found in each other.
Ursula scoffed. “You fool.”
I developed my piece as I was writing it, figuring out the story slowly until I had a finished product that I felt happy with. In my head, I had an image of a single scene from my story, and the piece sort of became a way for me to desrcibe it as best as I could, filling it in with context and background that would move the plot forward. Being able to discuss my ideas with my mentor, Lindsay, helped point me to direction that I could work off of, until after several drafts and heavy revisions I had a version of the piece that I was happy with.
Britney Phan is a high school junior in Brooklyn, NY. Other than writing, her main hobbies include drawing and listening to music. This year, along with her mentor, Lindsay, she read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and was so taken by the fantastical landscapes which she was swept into that she decided to write a piece that was inspired by them.