Mommy, I Don’t Believe in God No More
"...for a reason, known only to the Lepidopterans themselves, certain species of butterfly will congregate in the forest at the end of the summer and seemingly expire in unison, mounding into a conglomerate pile of butterfly wings."
Invertebrata vol. 1 issue 5
"Mommy," the panting little girl rushed up, gulping breaths, swallowing, "I don't Mommy," she spoke with certainty but not enough breath, whispering urgently into Mommy’s ear, standing on a step below where Mommy was reading.
"Don't what, sweetheart?" Her red-haired mother looked into the tear-filled green eyes.
"Mommy--don't believe in God no more--not gonna pray no more, ever, ever again, cause I got gypped outta all my prayers; and anyways, now I found it, out in our woods, by St. Peter and Paul, found it, Mommy."
Little Judith, was getting her breath back now, slowing her voice down, swallowing extra spit and talking so Mommy’d understand her.
"Found what, Judith?"
"Mommy, it's them, with all their orange butterfly's wings, silver on the bottom , grey sky streaks underneath--Mommy, you know, the Gulf Fritaries, like we liked so much; and they still got my prayers dimmy writed on their wings, whom they were supposed to take up to Jesus? For Him to read off their wings? Like Daddy said, during us following them? wherever they flied onto our orange Mexican flowers, drinking flower’s juice, getting energies, but the butterflies got robbed; it's a scam. I don't believe nothing no more, in God, or even Jesus and Mary.”
Judith went on, “Come and see, Mommy; member you and me and daddy--watching their long little windowshade curly proboscus tongues stick down inside, getting their flower energies remember? Come on, please let me show you, and then Daddy said they was carrying up to Jesus the secret little butterfly prayers we said?"
Martha said, "I certainly do remember, and Daddy told you that each time you prayed and saw a butterfly and then you should ask the butterfly to carry your prayer. I remember that."
"And then," said Judith, "every Fritary butterfly I ever saw, Mommy, after daddy got sick and I never let no butterfly xcaped, and followed every butterfly—please come see--prayed like crazy, lots of Hail Mary's, Glory Be to the Fathers, and Our Fathers and everything, whenever the butterflies stopped to drink, " here Judith folded her hands palm-to-palm, showing her mother proper praying as she’d been taught, "and I could even see them, my prayers, sticking right onto the butterflies in little black writings. So I just prayed lightlessly to carry just unheavy Hail Mary’s to not squash them, poor butterflies flying zigzaggy, trying to carry my prayers up to God. And they did but God's totally a scammer, he's just--I want my prayers back for a recall."
Judith was tugging at her mother's hand, "Please come and see mommy—not even no heavy Our Father’s onto the poor butterflies.” Then, like she was whispering a scandal, “God just took my prayers, even just light Hail Mary's," Judith was walking backwards pulling her mother's arm a little, "my prayers for daddy got robbed away for somebody else and the heavynesses just killed the butterflies anyways. Whom is not fair."
Her tall, red-haired mother, Martha followed, loving Judith’s passionate earnestness and urgency; it reminded her of her little girl self at six years old--now they’d reached the end of the back yard.
"Excuse me Mary Flowers," said Judith walking backwards, but being careful not to step on any of him these bright yellow asters: Mary flowers she called them, carefully walking around the great flower bed, "Mommy, it's just all a lie.”
Little Judith stopped for an extra breath and swallowing, making little hand moves in the air, "I got robbed by God stealing my prayers," Judith was crying.
The whispering, brilliant yellow poplar trees next to the dark woods, were letting loose their dying leaves, softly gliding them down, turning cartwheels and sailing them in the autumn wind.
Judith advised the trees, "Don't you believe in God no more either, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He's just a gyp."
Judith's daddy named these four trees after the four evangelists--she now reached up to them her little arms in her yellow flowered dress, same bright color as the yellow falling leaves, with the white lace frilly sleeves, that Daddy liked so much--she wanted to wear his "Daddy" dress every day, even dirty.
She rushed into the dark woods, saying him, "You and me’re friends. God’s a gyp, so don't never trust Him no more."
"Judith," her mother called after her, but the sweating little girl again was hurrying, scolding herself, "Me," she was shouting at herself, " I was just a dopey kid thinking God’d be honest and not a stealer."
She turned back, “Listen to these woods’ trees Mommy, wind talking; trees’re honester than peoples, they aren't no crooks like God.”
The still moist leaves were brushing Judith cheek, they still had patches of disappearing green chlorophyll around their stems separating into it’s parts: bright scarlet-vermilion-crimson and violets, yellow carotene and the anthocyaninic colors of death, setting their branches against the autumnal winds, quieting themselves in for the long snowy winter.
Her mother finally caught up with her, took little Judith by her arm gently; and, kneeling next to her in the soft red, yellow and scarlet leaf carpet under her blue gene knees, slowly smiling, and softly brushing Judith’s cheek with the back of her fingers, then holding her hot little head, Judith’s red feverish face, kissing her and looking in her red eyes, "Why do you think God stole your prayers Judith?"
"Didn't save Daddy," her little girl turned stubbornly away and pointing an accusing little finger upward, "just took them and spended them for something else."
Martha said, "God did answer your beautiful prayers; we don’t really know, but I think Jesus especially hears the prayers of good, loving and angry girls, and that's the most we can ever know, sweetheart. Daddy always felt your love. He felt comforted and even at the very end sweetheart, he said your name over and over and asked me to love you extra hard, you were precious to him with your prayers. But prayers don't always work just the way we want."
Judith stamped her foot stubbornly, shouted, "But, mommy, no, no, it's a scam; he just didn't even save Daddy!"
"Yours prayers did save him, Judith, they did."
"Where’s my Daddy then? Where’s my Daddy? I don't ever feel--you told me that after people go to heaven we never lose them. Daddy for sure’s a saint; you told me, that it’s a rope between our hearts—us holding on to them with our rope to feel Daddy in heaven; but God didn’t do it! He just wasn't even paying no attention and lost my Daddy. He's lost! I want him! I want my Daddy back!"
She wrenched her little shoulders away from her mother, “Daddy,” she screamed, throwing her arms around, smashing her little brown leather shoes in the soft leaves, making them fly up escaping her crushing little feet, "gimme back my prayers! I'm mad at you for not saving my Daddy," here she ran across the clearing, "look over here! by St. Peter and Paul."
St. Peter and Paul were a large oak and maple, tall, gravely looking down on the raging child at their roots.
"Look," shouted Judith, "here they are!"
Martha, was weeping herself now, got up and went to the raging Judith standing by the trees named St. Peter and Paul, "look, mommy, look, here they all are, He just robbed of my prayers, right off of their wings."
There was a windfall of multicolored butterfly wings all laying in a heap by the tree roots. A butterfly graveyard. Their wings had elongated silvery lozenges on the bottoms, with dark cloisonné divisions in the orange scales on top; one was still alive its antennae tiredly waving in the autumn wind.
Judith said in soft tones to the dying animal, "You don't have to do no more, I'm sorry, I gave you too much prayers to carry and God’s just a crook anyways. Just rest and live. Don't die," sobbing quietly, "please don't die."
Martha put one arm over the shaking shoulders, holding her little daughter, smelling the baby shampoo in Judith’s red long hair, holding her tightly and feeling the little girl's hot wet tears flowing down her own cheeks, their tears mixing .
Finally, Martha said, "Let's give God another chance and say a prayer together for Daddy. We won't even ask this poor butterfly to take it to heaven for us. God will hear us anyway."
They finished praying and got up, but little Judith turned back, addressing the fallen drifts of butterfly wings, "It’s not your fault, you did your best to carry my prayers. You’ll go to butterfly heaven. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."
She blessed the butterfly bodies as father did at Daddy's funeral.
" Judith," said Martha firmly, "Daddy’s spirit’s still with us, don’t worry, we didn’t lose him forever.”
"Well,” said Judith up to the two, side by side ancient trees, “good bye Saint Peter and Paul ” -- at that moment a beam of late afternoon sun shone through the forest canopy and illumined a young white birch tree separated from the other trees. Its white bark in powerful contrast to the rest of the dark forest, blazing in the sun with fluttering yellow leaves, it seemed stepping forward, presenting itself.
"Look," said Martha, seizing the moment, “that can be your Daddy tree.”
Judith didn't say anything for a moment, her eyes were wide, then whispered, "Is it from Daddy, Mommy? Is it...the heart rope?"
She said it very quietly, cautiously in her mother's ear, astonished; barely breathing.
Martha whispered back, "It is if you want to make it be. The Holy Ghost speaks to us in strange ways if we’ll just open our ears. There are always answers everywhere around us."
Just then the remaining tired butterfly roused itself, fluttered into the same brilliant beam that lit the tree and settled to bask in the last warming rays.
"Oh, mommy—look at that! it is then, it is, I do want it to be. I’ll pretend it that."
She ran to the tree throwing her arms around the birch’s soft smooth white trunk, "Oh God, I’m sorry I called you a crook. Daddy, Daddy!" she cried out, "I feel the rope again."
The two solemn oak and maple trees sailed down a benediction of three or four leaves, flashing yellows and reds, through this day's last sunbeam into the darker forest.
© Pierrino Mascarino