Flash Fiction: If Wishes Were Butterflies

Flash Fiction

A challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com

If wishes were butterflies, Jenna would run headlong into the meadow where the spiky yellow flowers grow. She would bide her time until a butterfly of such size and strength floated by that when its wings flapped, the air would beat in punctuation against her skin. She’d know then. That would be the one. With a burst, she would stand and swing her white net through the air to capture it. Then she would run.

And run she would. Orange butterfly in hand, bedroom door papered in celebrity posters locked, Jenna safely made her wish.

Isn’t that what we tried to prevent? Didn’t we, the Council, after generations of education, having funded and coaxed and whispered football fields, nay, entire stadiums of clichés and dross captured in song and books and movies to mislead the people, to lead them astray, didn’t we do our best?  It’s Love, you want Love, we whispered. When they questioned this we broadcast a reality tv show… or dozens. Scattershot, we presented Death, Babies, the Illusion of Health, and drew upon the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales to reinvent Fantasy at every turn, rebooting stories of action heroes, wizards, or fashion dolls. It seemed to work.

And still. There was Jenna.

She heard the lies, the tricks, the disinformation. Yet somehow she stumbled across the truth.

And when she went to the field that day, Jenna Warbley, age 14, with tangled brown hair and no boyfriend, caught the Butterfly and made a wish. We were wrong. The wish was of no import. It wasn’t the wish. It was the Butterfly.

The Sun went out. The lights went mere days after. The Council gathered one final time.

There were recriminations. There was shouting. If only we’d… the arguments began. In the starry day-long night, it was comical to try to prioritize what was more important; the light or the heat? In the end, it mattered not. The Butterfly who powered life as we knew it was caught and killed. With that tiny act perpetuated by a mere teenager, life as we knew ended.

If wishes were butterflies. All I wanted to know was, where did she hear it?

3 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: If Wishes Were Butterflies

  1. I like this a lot. The length is fantastic, any more would have killed the mystery.

    The premise is intriguing and the act of the apocalypse is, at least to me, wholely new. Well done

  2. Thanks BA!

    I had that phrase “if wishes were butterflies” stuck in my head yesterday and I wanted to reference the belief that some people have spoken of the motion of a single butterfly’s wings in Mexico being a catalyst for weather patterns on the other side of the world. Married it with an idea from last week of a ‘Council.’ In Scifi, a ‘Council’ is always a bunch of scheming idiots who get defeated in the end. With these two ideas I had a shotgun marriage. Then I kind of blew the idea up. 🙂

    While I intend at some point in a future story to turn the tables and make the Council the good guys, I played right to the stereotype here for brevity.

  3. Those durn kid. Just no respect for anything. Dadgummit. Nifty end to everything. I’d miss the butterflies most though.

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