Only the Kid

The child whose parent is giving me a tour of their house looks up at me to say, “Only little kids like butterflies,” in that tone reserved for children who have just heard their favorite thing mocked by their peers. For a moment, I wonder of the world in which this might be true, a world where the fluttering creatures flock only to small, open palms, a world where the smiles at these surprising pops of color are drawn across the faces of Crayola-marker-carrying, melted-square-of-chocolate-in-pocket kids, like this one. I wonder if it is cruelty that has made the non-little kids in this universe dislike butterflies. What other reasons would they have? They are too small to be important enough for me to care for. Why like them? They live such a short while. Shapeshifters — I only like things that stay the same!

“Do you like butterflies?” I ask the child.

“No,” they say. And I watch them stumble over a snag in the carpet. Then, as if their near tumble woke them up to something, “Only the yellow ones.”

Juliana Roth