when i was a child: i used to go out and catch butterflies. i would wait for them to rest on a bush. i would creep up on them. catch their delicate wings between my fingers. and press lightly. then. i would walk home. take a square of aluminum foil. lay the butterfly down upon it. and seal the creature inside. i would open up my dictionary to a random spot. and place the aluminum foil between the pages. and close the heavy tome.

this was a hobby.

one day: many years later. as i was preparing for my wedding. and for moving into a new home. i was going through my things. what will i take with me to my new life? i went through my books. flipped through my dictionary. forgetting about all the swaths of foil inside. and the dead butterflies came fluttering out. deadweights in my lap.

and the memories came flooding back. and i cried. but these were not sad tears. they were nostalgic tears. emotion washed out of my eyes. for days gone by. beautiful days when my heart was innocent. and freedom was captured between fingertips. innocently.

i still have my dead butterflies. i still cry when i look at them. but not because i am feeling nostalgic. no. not that, anymore. i cry because i killed so many butterflies. so many years ago.

i will always keep the tokens. so i can always remember. and one day. i will forgive myself. for taking a helpless creature from nature's freedom. and stifling her between the mash of murdered trees. and the stiffness of fabricated words.