Butterflies by Pseudomonas

The Straw Gifts.


ojii-san - grandfather

daijoubu desu yo - I'm alright!

konnichiwa - good afternoon!

ano - erm...

gomen nasai - sorry

kirei - pretty

osoi na - so slow!

nani o surundesu ka - what are you doing?

kaeru ka - have you returned?


"Look at that butterfly! It flies in its own world, from flower to flower.

If you blink your eyes, you will never see the same one again."


He was the boy who was orphaned at a young age and made a living with his hands.

She was the girl that tended to the stall which he had to bring his grandfather once a week.

"Ojii-san," he tried not to pant too hard and adjusted his grip around his grandfather's weak legs.

"Aa... daijoubu desu yo," the elderly man smiled and thought all the world of his grandson as he carried him on the back without any complaints.

The young man nodded his head and blinked as perspiration edged its way into the corner of his left right. Soon, he would get to see that sweet young girl. He wondered how old she was, because he was only fifteen. Even though she looked younger and was shorter than him, he could not be sure. To him, all girls looked young and short, although not all were as adorable and lovely as her. He wondered if he could ask for her name and blushed a little at that thought.

I'm no rich man's son, she wouldn't like me, he told himself and staggered his way down slowly the slope. His grandfather was big-boned and heavy and he wondered whether he would grow up to be like him, though he was pretty sure that he had the height.

She saw him from a far distance, making his way down slowly and carefully as he carried his grandfather on his back. She clasped her hands and smiled to herself; she had always looked forward to this day of the week when he would come with his grandfather. Even though the young man never once looked her direct in the eyes, she thought that he was the most handsome and courteous boy in the vicinity. She wondered how his voice would sound like, since he only nodded and shook his head.

Perhaps I am too brash, she thought to herself and tried to adjust the forget-me-not that she had tucked into her hair. She tugged a little at her yukata, hoping that the faded green would not make her look too drab. She was no rich family's daughter and had to count herself lucky that her father knew a little about herbs and massages. At least she had food on the table; most of her friends had to even steal sometimes.

"Konnichiwa ojii-san!"

When she lifted her pretty face and smiled brilliantly at him, he thought that his legs wobbled a little from the combination of her sunny smile and the weight of his grandfather.

"Are you here for your massages again?" she asked as she led the way into her small hut and helped the elderly man down.

"Aa... when one is old, he becomes useless..."

"Ojii-san!" he frowned and laid his hand on his grandfather's shoulder. He never thought that he was a burden; his grandfather was the one who had raised him up when his parents were devoured by youkai. Although they were very, very poor, but he had learned how to make straw hats and straw baskets from his grandfather and they did not had to beg on the streets. And for that love and knowledge, he was more than grateful towards his only remaining kin.

Her eyes rounded; it was the first time she had heard him talk and it sounded low and gruff. For no reason, she wanted to giggle but restrained herself.

"Go outside with this pretty lady and wait for me, don't stay here," the elderly man smiled, revealing a broken tooth as he noticed his grandson's faint red-tinged cheeks. It was obvious to him that he liked the girl, but he could not encourage him to go after her. Every young lady wanted to marry into a rich family, and wealth was the farthest thing that they could relate themselves to.

He nodded his head and wondered why his grandfather had said that. What would she think?! He panicked a little, hoping that they had not made a fool of themselves and sat down on the raised platform, not daring to turn his face lest he caught her big shining eyes. Should I ask for her name? What if I scare her?

She sat beside him and hugged her legs; they did not have many customers and she knew that her father would not mind. She fingered the flower behind her ear and chewed the insides of her cheeks, wondering whether she should say anything. Will he respond? Or will he ignore me?



She giggled. He smiled.

"Did you want to say anything?" she asked.

He shook his head and thought his cheeks felt way too hot.

She smiled; he looked so endearing when his fair cheeks were pink. For some odd reason, she wanted to pinch them, and she did.

He was shocked, and looked back at her like a startled deer. Did she just pinch his cheek?!

"Ah gomen nasai!"

But she continued to giggle and he thought that her light, girly laughter oddly resembled the melodious clinking of bells. He rubbed his cheek a little; her pinch was not hard but he wanted to touch the spot that her fingers had left its warmth on.

She finally caught his eye and stopped giggling. He had the most beautiful eyes that were shaped like a long, nice leaf; and the colours of his irises were of such a light hazel that she leaned forward unconsciously and peered into it.

He swallowed as the distance between them closed, hoping that his heart would stop beating so fast while he stared into her big, round sparkling eyes. She smelt of herbs and flowers, innocence and joy.

"Your eyes..." She cocked her head to one side and wondered whether he was a foreigner.

The wild flower dropped from her hair but she did not notice it. He swiftly picked it up and pushed the thin stem into her thick black shoulder-length hair, "it fell out."

Clouds drifted over their heads, but he could still see the pink in her cheeks and thought that her hair was softer than the fur of his stray puppy. Perhaps he could be bolder, he thought to himself when she did not move and looked at her yukata instead, twisting the thin fabric in between her fingers.

After what seemed like a long while, he finally mustered up his courage and asked the thing he most desired to know.

"What is your name?"


"Kirei!" she exclaimed jubilantly at the straw grasshopper that he made for her.

"Did you weave this yourself?" she cupped her first gift from him gingerly in her hands as she looked up to him, appreciation and admiration reflected in her eyes.

He nodded his head, relieved that she had liked his poor gift. He was a penniless boy, with no money in his pocket or power to his name, and only a skill that his grandfather bestowed him. She bounced the grasshopper up and down on her outstretched palm and he smiled when she laughed softly at the way her grasshopper moved.

From then on, he told himself that he wanted to see her smile and laugh everyday. It drove away the pain of being an orphan, the stress of supporting himself and his grandfather, and the depression and fear of being in poverty.

"Are you free now?" she asked as she held the grasshopper by its straw feelers.

He nodded his head, and when she took his hand, his lips parted a little.

"Let's go out and play!" she flashed him her signature cheerful smile and ran before he could even nod. But it was no problem since his legs were longer and soon, he had to slow down so that she would not trip. But he never once let go of her small soft hand, and she did not too.


She leaned her head on his shoulder and could feel the tall blades of grass tickling the back of her bare neck.

"It's ticklish," she said and adjusted her seat.

He looked down and rested his chin on her head, "then let's move."

She shook her head and kicked off her sandals, "I like it here, the lily fields are right in front of us!"

He smiled at her reply, "you and your obsession with flowers."

She looked up to him and frowned, "but you have to like them too!"

He rolled his eyes, even though he loved the way her eyebrows creased.

She tickled his side, because she knew that he did that on purpose.

"Oi! That's not fair!" He scrambled to the side and frowned hard.

But she did not relent, and soon both were tickling each other to their very best. Although she was not a very ladylike lady, he had to give in to her because he wanted to. In no time, they were screaming, shouting, laughing hysterically as they rolled around and through the wild lilies.

He pinned her arms down, for he could not take it anymore. "You are already sixteen!"

She glared at the crushed lilies and at him, "you are already eighteen and you just killed those lilies!"

He rolled his eyes and wished that lilies would grow on her head, "they will grow again."

"But it will not be the same one again," she retorted and pouted.

He thought that her rosebud lips were too tempting and released his grip, choosing to lie beside her and in turn destroyed more of her precious wild lilies.

"You'll always be the same, isn't it?"

Her lips parted; and she caressed the petals of the fallen lilies.

"Will you remain the same too?"

His eyebrows knitted themselves together as he stared at the wispy cirrus clouds, "aa."

She rolled to her side and tried to hug him. His eyes shot round and wide at her action.

"Then we will always recognize each other, isn't it? In our future lives," she closed her eyes and inhaled his masculine scent.

He remained quiet for a while, and raked his fingers through her loosened long hair, "perhaps we knew each other in our past lives too."


"Another gift!" she skipped through the woods happily with the grass-butterfly dangling in her right hand.

He followed her silently as her voice guided him, head looking down at the thick blades of grass as he concentrated while his fingers moved deftly; folding them, snapping them, twisting them.

"Osoi na!" she turned around and jabbed one hand to her waist.

He did not look up but continued to walk ahead, knowing well that she would not run too far off from him.

"Nani o surundesu ka?" she waited for him to catch up.

"Making another butterfly," he replied simply and gently pulled out its wings.

"For me?!" she smiled gleefully and thought of the next place where she could hide his handmade gifts. Her father did not like them at all.

He nodded his head, "aa. They fly in pairs, isn't it?"

She nodded her head too, "Hn. Like us."

He stopped in front of her, and wrapped his arms around her shoulder while he held the other butterfly, "do you want to fly with the other butterfly?"

She pressed her face against his slightly sweaty chest, "huh?"

"I have to go to the next town. There is not much business for me here. I heard from my friends that there is a bigger village nearby and I think I can take back more earnings if I sell my straw hats and baskets there."

Her eyelids dropped; she did not want him to go. Not at this time.

"Must you go?"

He nodded, "go with me."

She closed her eyes; of course she wanted to go with him! But her father needed her, and he wanted to marry her off into another family. She bit her lower lip; she was his butterfly and no one else's. But could she stop him? Did she want to stop him? He would have a better life if he leaves for the other village. If he stayed with her, he would only get poorer.

She thought for a long, long while as they hugged under the big maple tree. Finally, she shook her head. And he asked why. She could not say that it was for his best and for his future. Neither could she say that her father disliked him and he wanted to marry her off. Her father was getting old, and she could never oppose him. Marriages were always decided by parents and she did not want to upset her father. She was sure that he would be able to find another woman in the other village. He was tall, handsome, skillful and clever. Surely there would be other ladies who would be more matching for him when he had made it big. She believed that he would.

And so she only said, "come back soon."


He whistled to himself as he wove the straw together into a caterpillar. She will like this, he smiled to himself and adjusted the straw hat on his head. Three months had passed, and he wondered whether she would be shocked if he asked for her hand. He knew that her father would consent to their marriage if he gave him the pouch of silver that he had earned.

He wondered what she would say as he continued to insert more straws to the body to make its legs. He was unable to give her anything other than straw-related gifts, and he felt bad for it. Other ladies in the village wore pretty kimonos, thick white socks, held beautiful painted fans and had rouge on their cheeks and lips. But he could give her none of these other than what his hand could make.

"Maybe I should make her another caterpillar," he mused to himself and could barely contain his excitement as he imagined the day she would become his bride.

But before he could make another caterpillar, he felt something sharp pointing at his back.

They wanted his money, but he would not give them. It was her bridal dowry, without it he would never be able to marry her. He struggled, but he was no match at all against three desperate thieves. As he watched them run away with the silver that he had earned painstakingly, his heart ached for the woman that he would never see again.

Blood seeped from his wounds continuously until there was no more. The finished blood-soaked caterpillar lay in his cold lifeless hand.


She stared at the grasshopper and the butterfly in her hand, wondering how he was doing in the other village. Perhaps he had moved on to another one, she thought to herself as she waited for her groom in her house.

Maybe he's waiting outside for me, she looked out of her window. But no, he was not there. Three months, only three months without his presence and she already felt as if she was nothing but a walking doll. Perhaps he would not return to her. Perhaps he had found himself another woman. Perhaps he had forgotten about her. Her eyes were dry as she stared at his gifts resting on her lap.

But what if he returned and saw her with another man? How would he feel? Could she face him?

She closed her eyes and shook her head. She could not marry that man.

And she heard her father calling out for her. The groom and his sedan had arrived.

She looked around her room frantically; she would not allow herself to be defiled by another man. She was his butterfly, and would always fly around him. She sighted the pair of scissors in her sewing basket and without hesitation, swiped it hard over the throbbing artery under her jaw.

As she fell silently to the floor, she could hear shouts and noises calling out for her name. Her vision blurred, and even though she felt very cold, her heart was as warm as it could be.

She saw a small white butterfly, and thought that she recognized it.

Kaeru ka? she smiled peacefully and closed her eyes.


He was the boy who had many dreams of their past reincarnations, and promised to himself that he would find her again and again until they could be together.

She was the girl who had many suitors but only wanted the lily that he plucked for her; and was determined to reunite with him no matter what may come.


The reason the horizon shines

is that somewhere it's hiding you.

The reason I long for the many lights

is that you are there in one of them.

So, I set out, with a slice of bread,

a knife, a lamp, stuffed in a bag.

- Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa (ending theme for "Laputa Castle", directed by Miyazaki Hayao



I wrote this because I kept seeing this lone little green butterfly around the flower bushes near my workplace. Somehow it evolved into this... This is the first part, and the following chapters would be sort-of a continuation to it. There is a reason why I don't include their names in but I won't say. You guys will understand once the last part is up.

This chapter is dedicated to someone who is obsessed with microbes, because I promised her a one-shot. And also to my cousin, who passed away from lung cancer this wednesday.


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
No money is being made from the creation or viewing of content on this site, which is strictly for personal, non-commercial use, in accordance with the copyright.