Like Butterflies By Lorna McGinnis

“I want to forget.” She looked upwards, into its eyes, trying to sound firm.

“Don’t you all.” It raised an eyebrow. It was amazing how human it looked. If she didn’t know better she would have mistaken it for a woman. It wore a tailored suit and a string of pearls. Its hair was blond, going gray at in places, and done up into a neat bun. It was classy without being ostentatious.

“Can you do that? Make me forget?” She smoothed a hand over her blouse and shifted back a little.

“It depends.” It quirked its mouth into something that was almost a smile. Now that she considered, it was the little things that gave it away. There was something in the voice that was just a little too…fluid. The eyes were wrong too. She gave a discreet shudder. She’d never met anyone with eyes like that before. The light in them was too intense, almost burning, like they could see right through a person and out the other side.

“Is there something wrong?” The thing’s mouth widened.

“Oh no. Everything’s fine.” She started a little.

“Then why are you here?”

“Oh you mean… I told you, I want to forget.” She sat up straighter in her chair, trying to take up the entire seat.

“Everyone wants to forget. They don’t all come to see me. That requires…” The thing paused and ran its tongue around its scarlet lips. “Desperation.”

“That’s not your business.” Her voice squeaked and she put a hand to her throat.

“If I give you what you desire, I will be the one to remember it for you. It is certainly my business.”

“I don’t want to forget a memory.”

“Then why are you here?”

“I want to forget a person.” She closed her eyes for a moment, remembering. A woman in a blue dress with her head thrown back, laughing. The light from the chandelier falling across her throat. Messy chestnut hair tumbling over sultry eyes. “Her name was Dahlia Woodley.”

“Husband’s mistress?”

“That’s not important.”


“Died two months ago.”

“How sad.” The thing’s face didn’t change.

“No. No it wasn’t.” When the telephone call had come from the coroner, for a moment she had felt nothing, then relief as her every muscle loosened. Dalia was gone. She wouldn’t have to watch anymore. She wouldn’t have to know anymore.

“Then what?” Its eyes glistened.

“Dahlia was special…I can’t talk about it.” Dahlia had terrified her. She’d lain awake at night, waiting, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for a voice out of the darkness— announcing that something terrible had happened. The flecks of blood on Dahlia’s smooth white hand. Dahlia’s soft voice, hissing. This will just be our little secret.

“I see.”

“I can pay.” She pushed a stack of hundreds across the table. “If that’s not enough I can get more.”

“If I perform this service you would lose all memory of her. The recollection would be entirely mine.”

“I understand. That’s why I’m here.” She leaned forward.

“She must have been very…special for you to want to forget her so quickly.” The thing drew its lips back, exposing dainty white teeth.

“She was. Very.” Dahlia’s cool hand had brushed her cheek, with the crimson splashes, and then she had known. There had been no motive, nothing to interest anyone. Her William was gone. He’d never kiss her good morning again. She’d never hear him wrestling with the dog or arguing with the referee on television. They’d never have children.

“Give me your hand.”


“I’m giving you what you want. You can forget yourself.”

“I think you mean ‘forget her.’” She stretched out her hand.

“To forget one is to forget the other.”

“How?” She drew it back.

“Memories are like butterflies. You cannot remove a wing without killing the insect.” The thing’s eyes burned brighter.

“I’m not so sure this is a good idea.” She pushed her chair away from the table. “You can keep the money. I don’t need it.”

“But you’ll hardly miss either,” the thing paused. “Unless, after all, you’d rather…remember.”

“Never mind then. I’ll do it.” She extended her hand and the thing took it.

“So who was she? Not the mistress after all?”

She took a deep breath. “She was my sister.”

*McGinnis is a student at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, with an English major and a Spanish minor. She practices many different types of creative writing including screenwriting, short stories, and poetry. Her screenplay, A Night at a Desk, has been published at Broadway Centre Theater on the Square, also in Tacoma. In her free time she enjoys Agatha Christie and martial arts.