Julia Yuen is a junior who enjoys writing short stories and poetry. Her favorite word is “petrichor.”


Mama, you told me once that a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope. Colors danced through my head that night, undulating rainbows. Twisting, molding to the shape of the wind. I walked down to the dollar store the other day, alone, grasping the air for company. The elderly cashier wondered where you had gone. Outstretched on the itchy grass of the parking lot island, I thought of you. She’s with the butterflies. I stared up at the sky for an hour.


The day you left, I came home to a note: Never forget my love, it said. Whether you missed the comma or omitted it, I will never know. The torn edge of the notebook page was dotted with your perfume. I closed my eyes and imagined butterflies, hot tears gracing my cheeks, salty drops mixing with the sweet scent of flowers. I tucked the note in your favorite sweater, neatly folded in the top drawer of my dresser. Your departure kept it shut.


That winter was a bitter one. The wind howled with me; the clouds shed tears of sleet. I knocked your vase off the kitchen table one morning–the one with dainty butterflies painted on it–and threw out its shards. But then I remembered you, giddy at the idea of filling it with fresh-cut dandelions and sourgrass, standing childlike on your tiptoes as you looked up at the sale shelf. So, I retrieved the shards and made them new again. Super glue and a little love were all it took.


Blooming daffodils signaled spring. I stroked their yellow petals, picturing delicately patterned wings. Then I plucked them from their stems and threw them in the crisp air. I let them go free. They flew in the wind like butterflies. Next to the sidewalk, I saw my reflection in a puddle of melted snow. I thought it was you in that glassy reflection. You had your sweater on. Humming to “Vienna” later that day, I rocked myself to the bittersweet tune. I watched a swallowtail butterfly land on a daffodil, reaching its wings toward the sky.


“Mama, I remember.”