1. Her scissor leaped like shears over hayfields as she snipped off tresses of braids, locks coming undone deftly. The lady before her, seated on a comfortable chair, glanced at the large rectangular mirror where the barberette was in full view, and curiously inquired, “Diane, that hairpin of yours… It’s lovely! Where’d you purchase it?”

“I didn’t buy it, Sarah, it emerged from a chrysalis of flames.” Diane had not realised that her butterfly-shaped pin had visibly loosened, nearly falling off the plait she always kept interlaced over her right shoulder.

“What d’you mean?”

“Nothing of importance, really. It’s a symbol of cowardice.”

Sarah had trailed off along her own chain of thought. “I’m sure it’s a gift of courtship. Whoever gave it to you, don’t keep them waiting. Men are like butterflies, never remaining at one spot, flitting away to a different flower once they’re bored. Trust me,” Sarah heaved a long-drawn-out sigh, “I know that for a fact.”

A divorcee, Sarah still frequented Diane’s establishment to; using her own words; ‘look pretty despite everything.” (“I mean, why shouldn’t I marry again, you tell me that!” She had fumed).

**

They only ever saw crimson. Etched into their young irises was… fire. Tongues of flames licking at the walls of their temple school, devouring it.

“Seditious literature is being taught here!” They said, the ones who razed the place to the ground, leaving the orphans traumatised. Clutching the hem of Theo’s shirt, young Diane had cowered, weeping, terrified at the sight of their teacher’s corpse prone before them.

“Run straight ahead, Diane, follow the path by the meadow and turn left! An old couple lives there, they’ll take you in!”

“What about you, Theo?” She had whimpered.

“I’ll exact judgement on these vile men! But before that…” Theo had rummaged through his pockets, “Take this!” Thrusting a butterfly-patterned hairpin into the little girl’s singed palms, he set off at a sprint, yelling, “Always loved your long hair; meant to give you this on your birthday, see? Oh well…”

“Will I see you again?” She had childishly called, lips quivering as another wave of sorrow threatened to engulf her.

“I don’t know, Diane! Perhaps the butterfly will guide me back to you!”

**

Sarah’s words left a deep impression in Diane’s soul.

-Why must I hold on to a relic of the past? It had blazed on that day, and tonight, heaven curses me with an icy downpour. Fitting.

She plucked off her pin and lifted the scissor to her braid. A high wind began to roar as her ebony strands flew off; along with the pin, right towards-

-“Didn’t I tell you I loved your flowing tresses?”

The vortex of the ravaging squall, a man with a vendetta; one whose radical activities she had followed in the daily papers; he was grasping her locks, a hand raised.

“Where have you been all these years, Theodore?”

“Running away from home, Diane. Will you have me, even though my arms are smeared with blood and ash?”

 

Photo by Alfred Schrock on ‘unsplash’.

 

 

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