Jane didn’t have many friends. That was okay. She didn’t really need them. She was busy enough with her imagination. It was the only place she could escape her father’s grasp. She would pretend she was a butterfly flitting from flower to flower without a care in the world instead of the damaged goods she really was. Still when she met Phillip she hadn’t expected for them to be so much alike. She had been in the meadow behind her house in hot pursuit of a brilliantly blue butterfly when she had first seen him taking a piss on the big oak tree on the edge of the woods. She had watched transfixed, losing sight of the butterfly in the process. As far as boys went, he was classically handsome. Still she had been a bit leery of him. After all, he was not only a boy but a stranger. Where had he come from? She had lived here all her life and had never seen him. She would have remembered. Phillip was like no one she had ever seen before, as if he had been dropped here from somewhere else entirely.
Their eyes had met when he had finished and the heat that instantly warmed her cheeks seemed to warm his as well. Awkward! The smirk that quickly followed his initial look of surprise was classic. In embarrassment, she had run away and his hearty laughter had followed her. As fate would have it, they met again the next day at school. He was the new kid, and as soon as their eyes had locked instant recognition had caused her cheeks to grow hot once again in embarrassment. She had played it cool and continued to draw butterflies on her notebook as he watched her from across the classroom. When the bell rang, she made a beeline for the door only to have him pursue her and finally catch up outside her locker.
“Did you like what you saw?” he asked boldly.
“You are sick, whatever. Just leave me alone.” She had begged.
They met daily in the meadow. They lay on the grass amid the wildflowers and watched the clouds chase lazily across the sky sometimes seeing tigers and other times bears. They dreamed of escaping the personal hell that awaited each of them at home. They consoled each other, and as the years passed shared the unthinkable truth and the shame neither of them could ever truly escape.
The last day she saw him there, he was more tortured than she had ever seen him. She understood his angst, had went through it herself, but she couldn’t have predicted the way events would finally play out. He seemed especially agitated that day. Finally the clouds and gentle warm breezes had lulled him. He was quiet, brooding, seeming almost a million miles away. She had blown off his mood, thinking it would pass. The next day, she had found him there hanging dead from a tree, the evidence of his father’s most recent beating shadowing his skin in horrific detail. Tears clouded her vision as she watched the police cut him down. It was that day she chose to escape her private hell and run away. If only this epiphany had come sooner. They could have run away together, plucked up courage and sought help. He would still be here with her. It was the only thing she regretted, the possibility she could have saved him and in the process saved herself.