Keep Your Wings Moving

Posted on Wednesday, 9th May 2012 @ 05:42 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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There she goes, catching butterflies and putting them into jars. She likes to see them move desperately inside the pot, trying to get out, because that is how she feels. After some time she lets them free, wishing she could join them. She can´t, she must wait until she is 18. Just three months, she mutters to herself, three months. The perspective of leaving gets her excited, but at the same time nervous, she doesn’t know where to go. And what will she do? She is a good writer, she knows how to speak Spanish and she does beautiful drawings, but will that be enough? She thinks about the possibilities. Does she really want to leave? Here she has a warm bed, bad food, but it is still food, warm baths. Is freedom worth that much?

The blue shinny butterfly is resting in the jar, she looks at it. It is a beautiful species and she decides to name it Decision. Not a very good name for anything, but that is what that butterfly represents, resting there, as if it were her natural habitat. But Elena knows Decision knows it is trapped.

She looks at it for a longer moment before opening the jar; the butterfly realizes it after a few seconds and flies away slowly, as Elena observes her beautiful blue wings. Wings, wouldn’t that be great? She divagates on the thought, sitting on her bed, next to the window, the last one in a row of ten others that look just the same.

Mrs. Cullen calls for supper, swigging the big bell of the living room. Elena rushes downstairs, through the living room, to the dining room. The big table is set for all the 50 girls, it makes a big L. She gets a plate and goes to the line behind the food counter where Mercedes, a fat, red-headed old lady, serves the food; today it is fish soup and round bread. The smell is weird, but Elena is hungry, so she waits in line imagining it is actually pumpkin soup, her favorite flavor, and that it tastes delicious. It is her little trick: pretending. It always helps.

She sits in the table next to Mari and Kim, they are 17 too and her best friends. They have been together since the start, losing hope together, waiting to get out together. Mari is a really good singer, Kim prepares delicious dishes.

-How was your day? – Mari asks her, pulling her long black hair back and then staring at the soup plate.

-Great, many beautiful butterflies today!-Elena answers, fixating her green eyes on the dirty spoon on her hand.

-Oh, that is nice! Have you let them all go already?-Kim says, with her soft voice, looking straight to Elena with concern on her face, she doesn’t like her friend’s hobby that much.

-Yes, already did-Elena shoves a spoonful of soup in her mouth. She almost throws up, the taste is horrible.

Back to her room she lies in her bed, Kim and Mari life in the other room, unfortunately.  The girls in Elena´s room are younger, ranging is from 7 to 13. She feels so old around them. Silvia, the 10 year old girl that sleeps in the bed next to hers, lies down too and says good night. Elena says good night back and forces herself not to cry. It is hard when you are the only one who has 17, still holding a shred of hope to be adopted.

When you turn 18, you are considered a legal adult, so you cannot be on the orphanage anymore. Is it really freedom? Elena could run away if she wanted to, but she never had the courage to just pack her things and leave. She dreamed about flying with the butterflies, but stayed in. The month passes really slowly, she reads, writes and cooks with Kim and sings with Mari. And finally the day of the field trip arrives.

Every two months Mrs. Cullen takes the girls to some place new, so they can get out of the orphanage a little. Everyone waits anxiously for them and it is what everyone talks about, trying to guess the next location. They had gone to the beach, to the central library, to the Sunday market. The last time was the Modern Art Museum.

-Are you excited? –Kim asks Elena, even though she knows the answer, her blond friend goes crazy in those days; she wants to see everything, touch them, smell them, talk to everyone.

-Have you forgotten the last time?-Mari asks Kim-she went wild!

The last time the field trip Elena almost got kick out, because she wanted to touch all the paintings.

-I will behave this time -she blinked one of her green eyes, they were shinning with excitement –I promise.

Mrs. Cullen shouted for them to get in bus and as all of the girls sat down she announced the destination.

-Oh, now this is going to be good! -Mari said.

-I don’t think I will like it that much – Kim replied.

-Kim, you will be just fine, and don’t even try to run away from us, we will drag you to everyone of the roller coasters!-Elena almost yelled with excitement-oh, yeah, Advertureland, baby!

They all got out of the bus, as it stoped on the entrance gate of the amusement park. Mrs. Cullen yelled: “Be back here by 6 p.m. and don’t be late!” and the girls broke into smaller groups and ran to enjoy the park.

It was 5h30 when the three oldest girls sat on the wildest ride of the park: Wildtown.

-Cheers to our last roller coaster ride of the day! – Elena said as they were going up the tracks in the 6 person car.

Kim was almost crying by her side, but there was no turning back, Elena had convinced her to go, Kim could never say no to her friend, she had this way of convincing people. Mari was trying to calm Kim a little as she looked angrily to her blond friend.

After the 90 degrees drop and the loops, they were ready to go home, well, Mari and Kim were. Elena, not so much. As they headed to the bus, the girl who catches butterflies announced she needed to go to the bathroom.

-Now?-Kim said, worried they would miss the bus. Mrs. Cullen was strict with schedules.

-You guys can go, I will only take a minute, don’t let her leave without me.

They split and Elena ran to the bathroom. As she was heading out of it a boy stopped her, opening a big smile. That smile threw her out of balance, she wasn’t prepared for it. But she couldn’t stop for that, even thought she wanted to, so she kept going, he held her arm.

-Where are you going, beautiful? – It was not an accusatory tone, just a longing, wanting to be with her tone.

-I need… Elena was speechless for the first time in her life.

-Yes? He said gently, letting go of her arm, and staring at her with his big brown eyes.

-..To get the bus-she completed her phrase in a breathe. What is happening? I need to go. But she couldn´t, she couldn’t move.

-What is your name? The boy asked, ignoring her answer.

Elena just blinked, looking at him, watching his brown curly hair reflect the afternoon sun. And then she ran, the bus, the bus, the bus! But she had lost it. She looked back, hoping the boy would still be there, but he was gone too.

She sat in the gutter, wondering about what to do. A butterfly passed by, she looked at it and by instinct looked for a pot in her bag, but then she realized she didn’t want to inprisionate the butterfly, because, she, herself, was free. She took a moment to enjoy the thought, cherishing it.


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