The Man With the Butterfly Heart

His heart was a butterfly.  That isn’t a metaphor.  The butterfly wings flapping made the blood go round.  His blood was as light as the wind.  He was very short and very thin, and he liked throwing rocks at children.  The doctors said his heart was too fragile to let love in.  He hated everything because he had to, bouts of cynicism to keep his health sustained.

He lived all alone in a big house.  He had a dog he had to kill because every time he looked at it he felt the butterfly wings begin to wobble.  He had a big house because the people in the town were always giving him money.  Medically forbidden to love, they thought.  That made them love him move.  Plus, his blood was light as wind and on blustery days before a storm he’d tie himself to a string and sail above the town as a human kite.  Everyone liked that a lot.

He became the town mascot.  They made a museum about him with his dead dog and a few of the rocks he’d thrown at kids.  The more the town loved him, the more the man had to push away.  People brought him cakes and cookies every day.  Depending on the person, he’d sometimes have to spit in their face, shit in their cake and tell them to go away.  A lot of cakes were wasted that way.  The townspeople brought him more and more just so they could say, He shat in my cake, the man with the butterfly heart shat in my cake.

It quickly became a game.  Three people bought the man a boat.  He took the boat from the guy with the weird beard and the harry neck; there was no danger of loving him.  He burned the boat from the girl with the long fingers that smelled like lilacs and rain, and to the guy who’d read him poetry through a window one night, he burned the boat and ran after him holding a flaming chunk of the boat’s frame, intent to kill or maim so that he’d stay away.

It took the man less than a day to realize he was being played.  His loveless heart was now a game.  He felt is heart begin to flutter.  The butterfly began to break.  He realized he’d loved the town all along, a little bit of love for every person, not enough to make a difference one by one.  But now the whole town had turned away.

The man with the butterfly heart died that day.  His heart in little bits now sits in his museum beside the dog, and there’s a little metal plaque beside his grave: we loved this man but not enough was all that the town needed to say.

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