Butterfly Wood, a short story by joshua10. Date added: 2012-07-17. Times viewed: 1077.
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- Intro: Poor Larry had been murdered.Cheryl had been charged and sentenced;but where was the body?
Sitting alone at the back of a near empty restaurant was how Cheryl liked it.A couple giggled and laughed together; they looked so in love with each other. It reminded Cheryl of her and Larry before she had to help him, and release him from his torment.
“Are you ready to order yet”, asked the waiter in a polish accent.
“No, not yet,” she said staring intently at the menu not looking at him. It felt amazing to have choice and freedom to be able to do things without someone watching.
He went to go but she called him before he went too far:
“Could I just have a glass of water please?”
This time she looked up at him: Tall and slim with short mousy hair; far too young for her, she preferred a real man.
She scanned the choices on the menu. Her mouth watered at the prospect of her best meal in years, although, it would take more than one meal to rid herself of the taste of prison slop.
She felt the presence of the waiter again but this time he went by her to attend a group of people that were being seated on the opposite side and were in a jovial mood. She smiled to herself. Life on the outside was going to be good as the laughter from the group continued.
The waiter came back with her water and he took her order. The loved up couple paid their bill and left, leaving her and the boisterous group.
It wasn’t long before the waiter placed a hot plate of food in front of her it, looked absolutely divine. She picked up the knife and fork and was about to devour the whole dish when she felt eyes upon her. The feeling she had hoped to dispel ,the paranoia that someone always wanted a piece of you, the feeling she had just before they would pin her down rip off her clothes defiling her, smothering her face so she couldn’t shout for help; the women in prison had been so cruel.
The group of people opposite had suddenly become silent and two of the group were staring at her. Was she imagining it she asked herself? Cheryl continued with the meal ignoring them, concentrating instead on the food, thinking about her future. Getting a job for a start, and, maybe when she had settled, perhaps meeting someone new? A man in her life would definitely put a lid on the past.
Desert, thought Cheryl.So many nice things to choose from but her thoughts were interrupted by an angry voice that cast a shadow over her table:
“You’ve got a fucking cheek,” she said in a hushed tone not wanting the rest of the family to hear.
She recognised the voice sending a chill down her spine; it was the ex-wife, Jennifer.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you would be here.”Time had not served her skin well. Too many holidays abroad too much money, too little sense.
“We’re all here,” she scowled, “all of us that ever loved him. Why don’t you just fuck off?”
An arm came and pulled her away:
“C’mon we can’t stay here love, let’s find another restaurant.”
The group all stood up collecting their coats from the back of the chairs, staring at her as they moved. It was only natural of course after causing them so much grief and despair at killing one of their own. But things had changed. She‘d had time to think about her actions. What it meant to them to lose someone close. She often wondered if she had done the right thing. Some were in tears as they left the restaurant. The same faces that sat in the public gallery watching, judging her, condemning. She had kept the real reasons for killing him to herself. None of them would be able to handle the truth.
“Could I have the bill please,” asked Cheryl her eyes welling up. She wasn’t free yet. There was still a long way to go.
“Don’t worry about that, I’ll pay.”
It was someone from the table. She’d forgotten his name; he was only young when it happened. He looked smart, his hair was spiked and he looked overconfident for his age. She looked into his eyes. He seemed honest and genuine.
“We just need to know where he’s buried so we can properly lay him to rest.”No chatter straight to the point thought Cheryl as he sat down in front of her.
Of course, she remembered now. Larry’s nephew. Always inquisitive, always wanting to by her side. She caught him on many occasions staring at her breasts on family get- togethers. She would blow him a kiss and he would retreat, embarrassed.
“I’m not sure this is a subject we should be talking about Danny. Did they put you up to this?”
“No, and they would be horrified if they knew what I was doing. I love them. I hate to see them suffer.
“Tell me where he’s buried. Take me there tonight.”
“It’s not far from here it’s a place called Butterfly Wood. As you know he was keen on butterflies so it seemed appropriate that I buried him there,” said Cheryl as she drove towards the resting place of Larry in Danny’s car.
Danny didn’t speak on the way, he couldn’t, his mouth felt dry, his body shivering with nerves; which was a mistake. Cheryl wanted a new life, to forget all about the past and start afresh somewhere else, where she was not known. But a killer’s instinct never dies, it only lies dormant until that moment presents itself, the unequivocal moment that grabs and takes you into places some could only dream of; natural as breathing or eating. Her vision began to narrow her heart started to race, Danny was behaving like a victim; his was fear uncontrollable, his fate was set.
“You can touch me if you like Danny.” She undid the buttons of her blouse as she drove, pulling out her left breast; she reached over and led Danny’s hand over to it.
“That’s a good boy Danny stroke it like a good boy.”
Reluctantly, Danny squeezed. A tear ran down his cheek. He thought he was in control before this.
Half a mile from the wood Cheryl killed the lights. Danny had his head buried in her chest; sucking her nipple as the car slowly navigated the dark country lane.
“That’s enough now Danny boy, we’re here.”
The car stopped on the edge of butterfly wood. Cheryl got out followed by Danny.
She held out her hand.
“C’mon, hold my hand, I’ll take you there.”
Poor Danny. So easily led. So easily manipulated. A boy like Danny would never act off his own accord; there must be someone else pulling his delicate strings……………………….
She walked him through the blackened wood. His hand was hot and sweaty and his breathing was quickening the further they went.
“Is it far?”
“Not far now, your uncle Larry is not too far from here.”
Cheryl felt exhilarated. A normal life wasn’t for her. The rehabilitation had been a waste of time; her only regret being that she wished she had done this more often.
Danny stopped suddenly in the darkness.
“No further. I go no further.”
“Now c’mon let’s not ……….”
She felt a blow to the back of her head, the force of it enough to knock her out.
When she woke her head throbbed. Cheryl’s hands were tied behind her back, which in turn were roughly tied to a tree. There was no Danny around anymore only twelve torches that blinded her. They were all held by Larry’s family. She tried to talk but her mouth was stuffed with a petrol soaked cloth.
One of the torches floated towards her held by a dark and vengeful silhouette; and from the dark a hand struck the side of her face forcing her head sharply to the side.
“Bitch,” shouted one of the avengers. There came a kick, striking her knee.
“Slag.” Another blow.This time to her nose. She felt the ensuing warm blood slowly trickle over her dry lips.
The group then moved as one sucking in the perpetrator, dragging her away from Cheryl.
All twelve were here. Larry’s family knew she was going to be there in that restaurant thought Cheryl. They had planned this for a long time.Revenge.Why go through all this? Why wait for all these years for me? All they’ll get is more pain.
She could hear whispering. This was good. If they had wanted to kill her they had done it by now. They hadn’t the bottle to do it. Sure someone had stuffed a petrol soaked rag into her mouth and they had tied her to a tree, but what now? Did they really want to know what she did with that worthless piece of shit Larry?
Someone pulled the cloth out.
“Where is he buried, c’mon tell us?”
“Yes tell us or we’ll kill you!”
She was blinded by the torches. Voices from the dark. Angry and upset, pain in their hearts that needed to be vanquished, so that they could heal, and move on.
She didn’t want to tell them but they were giving her no choice:
“Larry loved it here, I’ll never forget him. But Larry had to go, he couldn’t continue as he was. Larry was a caterpillar searching for the right place so he could grow into a beautiful butterfly. He spent a lot of time here with them in this wood; that’s why I left him here never to return.”
“Stop fucking us around; where is he?” A lighter was put to her face. Cheryl screamed, she could smell her own burnt flesh, making her feel nauseous.
“You all hate me don’t you? Larry chose me but you never accepted me. I was never invited to parties or gatherings. I was someone to be ignored. Poor old Larry, I did feel for him. I was perfect for Larry. I had everything he wanted in a woman. From my hair and nails to the clothes I wore. He’d been looking for someone like me for a very long time; I was the butterfly Larry had long to be. He started to wear my clothes at first, they fitted him perfectly. His mannerisms became like mine, he copied everything I did and said. But then Larry wandered for days not knowing who or what he wanted. He disappeared for weeks on end a tormented sole, that was, until he was released……………….”
“I’m fed up with all this shit, you’re; gonna fucking die here if you don’t tell us now.”
Jennifer slapped her face. It was a venomous strike that belied her small petit frame.
The final straw came with that slap:
“There is a body buried deep here in this wood. Don’t expect it be Larry. The Larry you loved the Larry you knew the Larry that was murdered; he won’t be there. Why do think I chose Cheryl. A woman with no family. A woman you wouldn’t see very often, estranged from her adopted parents; she was the woman I wanted to be, poor Cheryl.
The other torches moved closer as one, illuminating the tree Cheryl was bound too. Could they finally put a lid on this ghastly episode?
“I went to prison to be with other women, to think like them to be like them and to love like a woman.”
Jennifer moved forward and she shone the torch into Cheryl’s face, and that’s when she recognised the scar………………
“Fucking hell no, it’s you Larry………………………………”
“No, it was me, my name is Cheryl now. I took over that woman’s whole life. I had to kill her to become her. Before the police caught up with me I spent thousands on the operations; before I was arrested and jailed for his murder. So the Larry you knew is dead, he’ll never come back.”
Some of the women began to cry. None of this made sense to them. Was it really Larry whom they had mourned and grieved over?
“I’m really sorry. I just wanted the old me gone. Killing that poor girl helped me change more easily into a woman.”
Cheryl, as he was now known pulled on the ropes, but they were bound tight. She feared for her life even more now that the truth had been revealed.
“Will you let me go Jennifer?”
Jennifer had dropped the torch and was sitting on the floor. She was in shock and didn’t know what to say:
“Jennifer, please let me go.”
But Jennifer was oblivious to everything. Her mind thought back to all those wasted years, all the time they spent together; her husband, all this time, had wanted to be a woman.
Cheryl begged to be let go but she didn’t listen. She didn’t hear Danny come from where he hid in the wood, knife in hand, drawing the blade across her windpipe, releasing a fountain of blood that enveloped Jennifer.
She looked up shining the torch on her husband. Her head lolling to one side, a gaping wound across the larynx; thick black liquid crept out of the wound. Cheryl clawed desperately at Danny’s hand that had slashed at her throat but death would be quick. Jennifer stood, recovering her composure, shining the torch into her ex-husbands face.
“I loved you once, but now, I don’t know how I feel……………..”
The rest of the family had disappeared leaving her and Danny who was crouching with his head in his hands. She beckoned him towards her: “C’mon Danny boy, time to go home now.” She led him by the hand through Butterfly wood.
“Auntie Jen, can I..?”
In the darkness she felt a hand feeling under her bra finding her breast:
“That’s it Danny,” she said pulling out her breast, “you deserve it. You’ve been a very good boy.”
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