Butterfly | Teen Ink


October 3, 2013
By Selena Dobles-Kunkel BRONZE, Omaha, Nebraska
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Selena Dobles-Kunkel BRONZE, Omaha, Nebraska
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Pinisn Estate was force of it's own, an impentrable brick fortress of sorts, softened only by shadows of civilization that decorated the front entrance: painted white window sills, ivy smothering the walls, and various cracking cement pots holding over grown exotic plants of all sorts. The building had the old aura of a college of sorts, making it seem as though something prestegious happened behind the walls, when inside all it held was four towering floors of too empty rooms. Entering the house, one saw an immaculate entry way filled with small and impossibly uncomfortable chairs, miniature side tables and pots of fake flowers. All of the subsequent room held onto the same atmosphere of simulation homes, with stiff comforts and plastic flowers; an almost mocking imitation of a warm home. No one who had been to Pinsin Estate could guess that inside of its walls it held two nine-- almost ten-- year old twins.

Mrs. Pinsin was tall and thin, someone who could be described as willowy if only she wasn't such a strong presence. Her small green eyes were framed with thin lines that made her seem to be endlessly peering at something in the distance. Below the squinted eyes sat stretched out bubblegum lips, thin and bright after being stained so many times by various outlandish shades of lipstick. Opposing the gaudy lips, dull mousy brown hair hung to her jaw in something that she thought resembled the new modernist world, like she was a painting meant to be adored. With her dry hair and dull coloring, however, it looked limp and dreary. Finishing off the look, she wore straight laced khaki's, a baby pink pull over sweater, a string of pearls, and black heels; the look gave off an echo of "stay-at-home-millionaire".

The twins were almost exact copies of each other, both with long mops of deep brown hair that hid round blue-green eyes and matching pale pink mouths the perched in a small heart below button noses. One was named Jane Elizabeth. She tended towards the indoors, preferring to read in the silence of her room than running about outside. If one looked closely, they would spot nearly invisible freckles dotting along Jane's cheeks-- a feature that did not grace itself on Juliet. Juliet was the other twin, who spent her days being as alive as she possibly could be, always bouncing on the balls of her feet and running about in the well manicured garden despite the disdainful calls from their gardener Carlos.

Currently, the twins were folded in on themselves in the dank, dark basement. It was a cavern of dark cement, damp spots, and piles of unpacked cardboard boxes that had been sealed for so long that, as far as the twins knew, they were nothing but building blocks for their castle/fort/space ship. Their backs were pressed against the thin cardboard of their towering palace, the imaginary stone pressing into their back, their breathing hushed and silent as to not be found by the vengeful Queen Pinsin. Jane's hands funbled along the wall, murmuring in quick twin speak-- a language the Evil Queen could not understand. "Jully-ay, eht orchay!" Her plea for the torch was a bit desperate and shaky, although the words never panned out into anything.

Juliet had tiptoed ahead, her slumping black ankle sock stark against the imaginary marble floors. Brunette hair bobbed along with a willowy ivory night dress as a single entity, a ghost and a vision flittering ahead, Giggles of quiet mischief echoed down the hallway as the adventurous of the pair scattered ahead. Letting out a squeak of disdain, Jane followed after her, her pale feet thudding after hers. For a moment, the illusion fell and she dodged tearing cardboard boxes, ducking under the archways she had made when she was younger. But now was no time for pretend, knowing that Juliet was getting too close to the towering stairs-- where the Evil Queen could come downstairs and find the two hiding princess and make them return to working for the ball! Jane's feet pattered on the ground, her nerves not registering the sing of cement on bare feet; her mind was concentrated on making sure Juliet didn't get caught and they wouldn't have to return to setting up for the birthday party.

Finally, her hands hit smooth satin and chipping purple nails dug into the fabric, making it bunch around her clenched fingers uncomfortably. A small harrumph of disdain slipped through pale pink lips, dainty hands planting themselves on almost nonexistent hips. Staggering green eyes pierced Jane's more blue ones, a small sneer planting itself on the already beautiful and ever innocent face. Starting with shock at her twin's reaction, the introvert's hands straightened, removing itself from her twin's dress, small feet stumbling over themselves to step back; a moment of apologetic softness flickered over Juliet's features and she knew she should reach out and calm her startled sister. The moment passed and Juliet crossed her bony arms over a just starting to swell with puberty chest, sticking her chin up a bit in a self-satisfied fashion.

The triumph of frightening the other was cut off slowly and then all at once. A resonating creaks echoed down into the suddenly unbearably dark basement. The noise rang in the children's ears, the frightful noise making itself at home and threatening to hang in the back of their mind for the rest of the day. Accompanying the noise was a light. A golden light that should have been warm and welcoming but instead was a menacing presence that first made itself known on the gritty ground, seeping until it lit up the basement in undertones. All breathing stalled, leaving the dank air empty and shivering with nervousness of what was to come. Four eyes drew up to the menacing silhouette of a woman that stood in the doorway of betraying warm light, her cold eyes hidden behind a false smile. Her voice shook with faux cheer as she walked slowly down the steep stairway like a model on a distorted catwalk. "Girls, why are you too down here? You know that you are not allowed into the basement."

Panicked eyes darted to each other, neither quite knowing how to answer such a menacing question. Silence hung in the air following her question, the somewhat solid sort that seeps into your bones and creeps its way into every vein and capillary. Finally, Juliet broke the silence. "Jane told me she saw something in the basement!"

Jane stiffened at her sister's words. She had never told her sister anything like that, but somehow she had still known-- still known about the butterflies like gem stones that hid in the corners of her eyes and rooms alike. All sorts of colors, emanating a dim colorized light like an aura of a magician, but she was the only one who saw them. So, naturally, Juliet wouldn't know about them. Then it hit her: Juliet was lying! Blaming the downstairs excursion on the other twin! A stab of shock stung her chest, but she knew it was best to go along with it, so she just nodded, making her eyes wide and innocent with the hopes Mother would drop it.

And for a time she did. But almost exactly a month later, there was another incident at the dinner table.

The table was a long catwalk of polished mahogany, covered with warm colored table cloths that changed with the color of the year and Mother's opinion on what seemed homey enough to be on the dining table of a family, Not that the tablecloths helped the cold feeling of the room, considering it was long enough to feed twelve people with elbow room and it only ever housed four at most-- and that's if Daddy was visiting from his work in Hong Kong. He never was, so naturally it was just the three girls all at one end of the table, forced to simply stare at each other or their plates or the impressive win cabinet that Jane said reminded her of the immense wardrobe from Beauty and the Beast.

Currently, Jane was on the left side of the table, her thin fingers twiddling with the eggshell-- think mental asylum white-- tablecloth. She had taken to staring at her plate, which normally would be the most boring spot to stare as you waited for Helga to serve the food, but today was quite entertaining. A small ruby colored butterfly perched on the edge of the plate, small dark maroon legs curled on the tip of the pale white plate like blood, long matching antennae rising from the body. Mirroring itself, a pair of thin wings of a bright gemstone color, incandescent and filtering light through it to form duel oblong thin red splotches of light on the center of the plate. One antennae twitched, the creature sensing something or someone was observing it. Jane giggled at the butterfly's reaction to her presence.

Confusion flickered in Juliet's eyes, not used to hearing her sister react to anything that she did not cause herself. Curious as to what Jane was seeing, she shifted, moving to sit on one of her white stocking feet and moving her weight so the poking heel that marked her still young didn't leave an angry red mark on the milky skin of her thigh. Craning her thin neck so the tendons stood out, forming hills and valleys beneath her paper thin skin. Green eyes peered over crystalline water glasses, only to finally see nothing on Jane's plate. Juliet didn't understand-- her sister was not one for make believe outside of the basement, so what was she doing laughing at nothing? "Jay, what are you looking at?"

Jumping at the sudden inquisition, an answer tumbled through her lips before she could give a convincing lie. "A butterfly." Realizing her mistake, her mouth snapped shut, blue eyes widening a bit with suppressed panic. Internally, she wondered how her mother would react to hearing that her daughter saw invisible butterflies on the china and, in a calmer moment perhaps in the still silence of her room, Jane normally would have smiled at humor towards how odd the wonder sounded in her mind. But this moment was nothing of the still calm, although it was silence. This silence was more of a chaos, a chaos of dull gray eyes boring into Jane's temple through dark brown hair and twitching thin lips trying to find a proper question. There was malice in this silence.

But as though she had appeared from nothing, Helga was setting food down on the table quick as day, a smile quirked on her thick lips. Her olive skin tone was almost the same shade of the roast chicken she set down among the three girls, and Jane found it mesmerizing. Noticing the young girls infatuation with her hidden elegance, Helga gave a full smile and discreetly winked her golden hazel eyes at the girl she had saved from harsh questioning. Jane smiled sheepishly, all too aware of how much Helga had saved her then.

A visit from Daddy was rare. When it came to the girls, he was more of a name than a person. He was a shadow in the window of a car, a cuff link, a crisp dollar in a birthday card, and a letter at Christmas. So when the six foot bulk of a man with dark hair buzzed down and a suit matched with a charming smile was found sitting on the stiff cream couch in the living room next to Mrs. Pinsin, Jane and Juliet were confused to say the least. Juliet, always the good child, sat down on the edge of one of the leather armchairs, somehow managing to not sink into the overstuffed surface. Jane, however, hesitated, her small and then eyebrows drawn together-- she sensed something was off. Carefully, she sat down in the chair mirroring Juliet's; the leather surrounded her and pinned her into the chair, making her feel like a doll in a world made for those of flesh.

The parents shared a smile that was meant to be warm but seemed more like a mocking grin from a horror film to Jane. In the back of her mind she could imagine that smile stretching and stretching until their cheeks split with a sickening tear that stretched back to their ears. It was a terrible image but one that came to Jane far too easily. A small squeak of terror rose out of the back of her throat, confusing her sister. No one said a word. The moment stretched. Finally, Mrs. Pinisin smoothed her charcoal gray skirt, the fabric making way under her witch's hand to turn flat the unruly fabric. "It has come to Daddy and I's attention that Little Janey might have a little bit of an," She paused to simper towards the small girl. "An issue." Jane's bony shoulders tensed against this new move from the offensive side, her eyes flickering with a mix of fear and confusion.

Mother tried to smile in a reassuring way. Father was stoic, however, his bullet gray eyes hard and un-moving and his mouth an immovable straight line like a cut made by an exact-o-knife in the surface of his skin. Nothing gave his emotions away. The girl under question decided to play the victim, ignoring how Juliet was giving Jane a look that was all too smug to be innocent. "Wh-what did I do wrong, Mommy?" The words were fake, but the sheen to her sea colored eyes and the tremble of her small chin were nothing if not sincere.

Father replied for Mother, his heavy hand gripping her small bicep turning the skin around the are a pale white. "You've got your head stuck in a fantasy, and we plan on fixing you up." His square jaw shut with a satisfactory snap.

Jane couldn't believe what she was hearing. Being the small irrational ten year-old she was, she stood up and raised her chin a bit in the hope of seeming like an adult. Her eyes darkened and she blurted, "I don't need fixing." Father and Mother sighed, twin bursts of air into the perfumed atmosphere. Father stood first, his back straight, his bulbous hands tense at his sides. "Jane, you listen to your father." Anger flickered behind Jane's eyes. "Or what? What are you going to do, Daddy?"

A thin upper lip curled back into something close of the growl of the jackal. Square hand blurring too close to Jane's point of view and a sickening crack that echoed through the house. Little lost princess had crumpled down, a red mark blooming across her cheek, her mouth tasting of something thick and metallic. And that was that. Juliet hung around, standing by Jane who never moved, not sure of what to do. Helga and Mother gathered Jane's clothing and packed the generic designer sweaters and dresses into a plain pale pink canvas bag, everything impersonal and glammed up. Father called the Doctor.

Within hours a still unresponsive Jane was wrangled into a pale vehicle behind a man with kind smiles, trimmed hair and white scrubs. The last moment with her sister was something sad, her thin pale hand pressed against the bulletproof glass, taring longingly at the small family she left behind. Juliet struggled against Father's hand, her shoulder wrenching free of her bind. Small feet pounded across the pavement to press her hand to match her sister's. An aged arm wrapped around the girl's waist and pulled Juliet away as the car pulled away. Despite her parent's wishes, Juliet stood on the sidewalk and watched the car until it was over the hill and stayed until sunset, when Helga came and took her inside with a warm smile and a soft hand.

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