Once, I’ve found a pupa of a butterfly. Actually, it was my mom—the cocoon fell from a branch of blackcurrant where she was collecting the berries, and she brought it to me, without taking her heavy gardening gloves off. It was the middle of September, the time of falling leaves and stupid wool clothes, always two sizes wrong and smelling like dust in the attic.
The pupa was brown, slightly iridescent, delightfully heavy. Her bottom half could move, bending under the tiny plates — she would wiggle it from side to side if you’d poke her with a finger, like a tail of an irritated cat. Her upper half was clad in a solid, smooth piece of armor, with gentle imprints of nascent wings inside of it.
I was nine. She was my treasure. I put her in a glass jar and filled it with leaves and flowers, so if the butterfly was to emerge at any time, she had her breakfast ready. But the time was passing by, flowers were withering, the winds grew colder, and the pupa would do nothing but wriggling her tail.
I was born in a place where it’s freezing for half a year. I knew that the only way for these creatures to survive the winter was to tuck in somewhere safe and unfreeze when the spring comes. I put her on the ground in our backyard and covered her with the glass jar — so the snow won’t squish her, birds won’t eat her, and I could find her when it’s warm again.
The backyard snow wouldn’t melt till April. I’ve been waiting. I’ve been seeing the cocoon in my dreams. When the jar finally emerged from the snow, it was lying on its side, and my heart sunk: someone must have found my pupa before me, someone must have done something horrible with it. But when I dug around a little, I found her. She was still there — brown, glossy, heavy, and as she warmed up under the sun, she wriggled.
At first, I was carrying her jar, filled once again with fresh leaves and flowers, anywhere I’d go, afraid to lose even a second of the magic metamorphosis.
Then I was checking on it, once or twice a day.
Then I’d come to change the withered flowers once a few days, poking her to see if she was still alive.
She was there, sleek and thick as a bullet, heavy as the mystery of life itself, wriggling…