Chris pulled out his chisel and hammer and set to work. He began carving the pattern into the first bench. Soon it began to grow stuffy in the Church.
So he rose and went to the nearest stained glass window before throwing it open to allow the spring air in. He went back to is work and whistled as he did.
A butterfly fluttered into the Hall, drawn in by either the warmth or by Chris’s cheery whistling. It was a butterfly so beautiful that comparing it to the world would be injustice, so colourful that associating it with the colours of a rainbow or even an aurora would be unfair. So supple that only a cheetah would do justice to how agile it was.
It fluttered straight to where Chris crouched and settled on his shoulder, giving him a slight start.
‘Oh. Hallo little butterfly. What are you a-doing here? You should be playing with you four winged friends, outside the window and drinking nectar. Not watching boring men carving boring patterns on boring benches. Look at your pretty wings. Go show the world that you are a beautiful part of spring.’ Half-talked half-sang Chris to his little friend as he chipped at the wood.
‘Hello Chris.’ called someone making him jump more violently this time.
‘Oh, it’s you Rick. You scared me.’
‘Not as much as you scared me. You weren’t talking to yourself in the Church, were you?’ asked Rick, looking in at the window.
‘No, course not. I was muttering to this butter…Where’s it gone?’ Chris looked at his shoulder and then at Rick who stared at him in amazement. Immediately behind Rick, something flashed past in a blur of colours. It was definitely a human for Chris made out a vague face.
‘A butterfly you mean? You were talking to a butterfly?’ Rick burst out laughing. ‘That’s almost worse than talking to yourself!’
‘Oh, leave me alone. Go play with your friends don’t stay around making my hair go grey.’ Chris turned back to his work impatiently.
So Rick paid heed to Chris’s words and ran off to play with his pals.
Then Chris began think about the butterfly he had just seen. He couldn’t describe it. It was just so unreal. The only way to show how much he appreciated it was to say, ‘If that butterfly was a girl, I would marry her.’
But unfortunately that could and would never happen. Then he remembered something odd. He could have sworn that he had seen a solid gold bracelet, about the size of a human wrist, held in one of the legs of the butterfly. But then, the encounter as a whole was strange.
So Chris went back to his work and tried to forget the beauty he had just witnessed.
The next day, Chris went back to the Church to continue his work, but only after opening the window.
‘Do you need any help?’
Chris looked up from the wood he was carving, with a terrible jump, to see a beautiful stranger looking down on him. He noted her frilly, multi-coloured, powdery dress and her equally gaudy, springy hair. Her face reminded him of someone, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
‘No thank you. But how did you get in?’ asked Chris. ‘The Church isn’t open yet.’
‘Oh,’ said the lady. ‘I have ways.’
‘Okay.’ said Chris, unsure of this mysterious lady. ‘You from round here?’
‘How long will this take you Chris?’
‘About…Wait, how d’you know my name?’ asked Chris in bewilderment.
‘I told you before. I have ways.’
He noticed that she was wearing a gold bracelet that glinted in the light that streamed through the open window. Suddenly, he realised where he had seen her before. She was the person that had flashed past the window the previous day.
‘I’m sure you’re not from this village,’ Chris said, answering his own question. ‘I spotted you outside the window yesterday, just after I saw this indescribable butterfly. I’m sure you saw it too…’
He turned around to see that the lady had vanished. Strange, thought Chris but thought about it no more. He soon finished the benches in the Church. He hurried to tell the Church Head and get his pay.
‘I’m extremely pleased with your work Chris. Please come to Mass tomorrow so we can show the congregation who’s done the benches so well at the end.’ pleaded the Head.
‘Alright.’ promised Chris. ‘See you then.’
So, the next day, Chris arrived punctually for Mass. He went and seated himself at the first row. He was one of the earliest so he began to pray silently to himself, asking to see the butterfly again. As he prayed, other people began to file in for the service.
Then to his delight, astonishment and excitement, the Mystery Lady sat herself down next to him. But by now Mass had begun and it would be impolite to talk to her now surely. He would just have to catch her at the end of Mass.
She was wearing the same frock as before, her hair was just as colourful and bizarre as it was the first time he saw her and she was still wearing the bracelet. He spent his time staring at her and when Mass was over, she was the first to leave.
Chris saw that the seat where his companion had been sitting was covered with powder. He touched some and rubbed it between his fingers, amazed at how fine it was. Then he raced after her, paying no attention to what the Pastor was saying about him.
‘Stop,’ Chris cried. ‘What’s your name? Where are you off to?’
The lady turned around. ‘Why are you following me?’
‘I think you might be able to tell me what kind of butterfly floated in at the window the other day…’
He was cut short by a blinding flash of light emitted by the lady. He shut his eyes tight and used his hands to shield them from the radiance. When he finally opened his eyes and brought down his hands, the lady was gone and in her place was the butterfly.
‘What…Where…How? Chris’ mouth opened and closed like a goldfish and a look of pure terror crossed his already-white face.
Then to his further bewilderment, from the butterfly came the lady’s voice, ‘I am Butterfly Girl. I used to be a normal human like you. One day, I was captured by a Witch and made to work for her. I enjoyed the experience at first but soon I got desperate to escape. But I couldn’t for there was magic around the high walls of the house. So I decided that I’d stop working.’
‘Like a strike?’ asked Chris, feeling rather dazed.
‘Indeed. She got angry but turned me into a beautiful multicoloured Amber Phantom butterfly and gave me a bracelet. Every time I wear it, I turn back into a human. Whenever I remove it, I get transformed into a butterfly. She said that if I ever wanted to be a proper human again, to come to her. But then I would have to work for her until I die.’
‘Why did you come to me?’ asked Chris.
‘Because I knew that you would appreciate something as simple as a butterfly. If I had gone to Rick, he would have probably squashed me. I need you to break the spell.’
‘And how do I do that?’
‘You need to kill the Witch.’
‘What! Are you serious? I’m a carpenter with a love for butterflies. Not a murderer. I wouldn’t hurt a fly.’
‘I know you wouldn’t.’ said Butterfly Girl gently. ‘But you’re not really killing her. You just stab her and she’ll lose all her powers. She’ll be as helpless as a human. So you’re killing the Witch and giving birth to a human.’
‘Alright,’ sighed Chris unsurely. ‘But how do we get there if the walls are magically bound?’
‘With the bracelet. Remember what I told you about the Witch. She told me to come to her if I wanted to become human again. But she didn’t think that I would bring someone else with me.’
‘So when are we going?’ asked Chris rather reluctantly. ‘Not today I hope.’ He added under his breath.
‘Right now.’ said the butterfly confidently. ‘Have something sharp on you?’
Chris nodded towards the knife that hung from his belt.
‘Right-o. Let me settle on your shoulder. Close your eyes and whatever happens do not open them until I say so.’
‘I’m trusting you Butterfly Girl.’ said Chris, knowing that it was only his admiration for her that was making him do this.
The butterfly nodded and settled on his shoulder before mumbling some strange words that made no sense what-so-ever to the frightened Chris.
A bright flash was visible through his tightly shut eyelids and the next thing he knew was a voice whispering, ‘You can open your eyes now Chris. Talk in whispers, as we are just outside the room of the Witch.’
Chris nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He pulled his knife out and was about to go through the door into the Witch’s room and take her by surprise when the door behind them opened and who should walk in but the Witch herself!
‘Butterfly Girl! So you’ve come to kill me I see with this carpenter fellow. Well, it shall not work. Magic of the depths of the underworlds, be summoned!’ cackled the Witch.
Oh no, this can’t be good, thought Chris, noticing that Witch was pointing straight at him.
‘Chris, get out of the way!’ cried Butterfly Girl.
But it was too late. Chris was struck on the chest with a jet of dark liquid that enveloped him completely and pulled itself tight around him, so much, that he began to shrink.
‘Come back, oh power.’ cried the Witch.
The liquid withdrew itself back into the Witch’s hands. All that was left of Chris was…a black and white wood butterfly! The Witch lifted a net and caught Chris in it. Then she turned to the horrified Butterfly Girl and snarled, ‘Drop the bracelet into the fire or your friend shall suffer.’
‘Don’t do it Butterfly Girl!’ cried Chris from the net.
‘Let go of him and I’ll throw the bracelet away.’ said Butterfly Girl slowly.
‘No.’ raged the Witch.
‘Alright. I’ll do it.’ sighed Butterfly Girl sadly. She flew to the fire and dropped the bracelet in trying to ignore the protests from Chris and the sniggers from the Witch.
‘Now let go of Chris.’
‘You two are of no use to me. Expectus protronnum!’ exclaimed the Witch.
As soon as she uttered the words, the friends found themselves in a buttercup field. ‘I’m sorry, Butterfly Girl. I tried.’ sighed Chris.
‘Something good has come from all of this though.’ smiled Chris shyly.
‘And may I know what that is?’
‘When I first saw you as a butterfly, I vowed that if you were human that I would marry you. But now that I’m a butterfly too, maybe it can work the other way round?’
Butterfly Girl giggled. ‘It shall…’
Meanwhile, back in the village, everyone was hunting for Chris. Many years passed still he wasn’t found. Many rumours went round. Some said he went to another village. Others said he was ashamed of his carving work and drowned himself in the sea. But nobody thought anything about two butterflies dancing with each other in a buttercup field, one a Black and White Wood butterfly and the other, a multicoloured Amber Phantom…