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  • Kuhana Rajan

The Red Butterfly

Ruby woke up with her red hair streaked with white. She ran downstairs to find her mother in the kitchen, making breakfast. She giggled. “Mother look, my hair looks funny.” Her mom frowned. “Come here, darling.” She looked at Ruby's hair, frowning at the white streaks.

“Where did the red go?” Ruby asked her. “I don't know. Sometimes people lose their colour. It flies away from you like a butterfly, and you have to run fast to catch it.” She pointed to her own hair, which was pure white. “Now eat your cereal.” “Mother, will my hair become completely white like yours?” “Don't worry, you'll always be my Ruby, red hair or not.” She smiled sadly.

Ruby was thoughtful. She got up and said, “I'm done!” She ran up the stairs before her mother could say a word.

Knock Knock. The blue door opened an inch, a pair of annoyed grey eyes were staring back at her. “Ru come on, I'm going on a search for a red butterfly!” Her older brother, Cerulean said “Go away, Ruby. I'm tired.” He closed the door. “Fine.” she said to the closed door,

“I'll go by myself.”

She put on a red coat and a red hat and she walked out with her red boots splashing in the puddles. The garden was filled with flowers, and it seemed like another world beyond ours. She walked further, her eyes shining with the lovely colours around her. She saw a red butterfly around the corner and ran after it. Was that the red her mother had told her about? The butterfly flew over a fence, and she had to stop. It was out of her sight. She sighed. The last time she had seen something so stark red….

A memory came to her of a bright red fish she had seen one summer when she was six years old. She had pointed it out to her father, squealing at the bright colour beneath the lake. Her father had smiled and said, “It is like you, my darling. The colour is as bright as your hair.” She closed her eyes, lost in the memories of her father, his green eyes full of love for her. He had passed away a few years ago, and she had never been the same since. Her reflection in the water was sad. Her red hair was pale, and she wondered if she would become like the rest of her family. Her brother’s eyes had turned from blue to grey one winter, and her mother’s once sunshine yellow hair was now a pure white.

Lost in thought, she tripped and fell over a thick root, and stumbled against the vines. The vines gave through, exposing a bright red door. Surprised, she looked closer. It was well-worn and the paint was peeling. It looked lost. Her mother’s cautionary tales made her hesitate, but finally, she took a deep breath and turned the handle.

There was a stairway leading down, into the earth itself. She stepped carefully, avoiding the vines that took over everything. She found herself in a regal room, carpeted red and full of mahogany bookshelves. The end of the room held another door, this one a soft orange. It was incredibly quiet. The soft thud of her boots was the only sound. Passing the door, she found herself in a living space, with a fiery hearth and a pale man sitting on a chair. He was deeply engrossed in a thick book and didn’t seem to notice her standing there. “Hello?” She cleared her throat. He peered at her over his horned spectacles. “What are you doing here?” He asked. “I- I was looking for something and I found this red door- I am sorry for coming uninvited, but if I may ask, what is this place?” He smiled and she noticed his grey eyes were kind. “Welcome to the Library of Lost things. I am Orion Lost, the librarian. You must be Ruby.” “How do you know my name?” He chuckled at the question and said “I know why you are here. They say in every library there is a single book that can answer the question that burns like a fire in the mind. You have questions.” She looked around. It seemed the further she went the bigger the library seemed. “May I look?” “You may. Would you like a crimson cupcake and a cup of black coffee? I always keep refreshments. It is lovely to be able to satiate the hunger of the mind and body at once.” He offered her a tray that seemingly came out of nowhere. She accepted politely, and the librarian returned to his chair.

The books around her were vibrant. There were colours that Ruby had never even heard of. Finishing the last of her cupcake she turned around a corner. She heard a low humming coming from the left of the room. ‘That’s funny,’ she thought. ‘It almost sounds like-’ She moved a pile of books and there was green pulsing light coming from a book. She took it in her arms and read the cover. The title seemed familiar, but she could not recall why…. She kept picking books until she found a pale red one, and it seemed to be humming. It was the book her father used to read to her. It was her long-lost favourite. Wiping away the moistness of her eyes, she opened it. Out flew a red butterfly that twirled around her, it became a bird, then merely a feather, before settling behind her ear. She felt a warmth inside her, and she realised she had found what she had been looking for.

When her mother opened the door for her, she was shocked to see that Ruby’s hair was a bright red again. “But how-” Her daughter interrupted her. “Mother, I found it! I found my red.” Her mother looked at her in astonishment. “It’s a miracle…” she whispered.

As time passed Ruby decided she would look for her brother’s lost blue. She looked far and wide, dove into the bluest of lakes and brought home Periwinkles from the garden, but she couldn’t find anything and the flowers wilted and turned grey when her brother saw them.

It was only his fourteenth birthday, when he found a blue skateboard at their front door, wrapped in blue ribbon and a box of sky-coloured cupcakes. He loved that skateboard, and as the months passed, the colour returned to his eyes. He began smiling again and even taught Ruby to skate. He found joy in the simplest of things, skateboarding wherever he went. Her mother, Ruby found, had reconnected with her old best friend, and one day Ruby walked into a brightly lit kitchen, her mom’s laughter and yellow rays of sunshine.

Ruby with her "red" hope

She smiled and joined her colourful family, it seemed like hope can be found anywhere.

To conclude- “Where there is hope… There is life.”

~Anne Frank

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