They Can’t All Be Butterflies
The four-way relationship among butterflies, milkweed, soil fungi, and the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha
"They can't all be butterflies..." is what Dan muttered as he left the room. (It also happens to be the title of this work.) His account of the winter moth, trapped between sliding windows from the other night, followed, through graphene walls. Why should a moth hope to be anything else? The pressures of the Lepidopteran kingdom were well known.
It just happened that way. In a moment of despair, the group trailed Dan, turned south until the sidewalk ended. With the waters of the Lake at our toes, the decision was made to sit and rest in the pinkpurple light of the closing of the day. At that point, we had already been together for 865 minutes straight, the exact flight time to Incheon, without strong headwinds.
We knew we were no closer to any conclusions for the work. However, one thing was clear. Ideas would be layered until there was no distinguishable mark of any contributor. The group would select a single emissary. The four-way relationship among butterflies, milkweed, soil fungi, and the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha seemed important. There were contradictions in the research, and we felt, in general, the potential of contradictions was neglected.
We ran our languid fingers through the sand. Some of us tried to pinch a single grain. When dog walkers went past, our tones lowered. Excited music from the beach club thudded the evening, and birds chirped. Dan started on particles in space, ranging from grains of sand to mountain-size chunks, fragments of the first moments of our universe, and the guarantee that it would eventually collapse upon itself, return to the emptiness. Yes, that also seemed important.
The night came, and we went home. Except for Gaetano. He walked the shore for another hour. Collected some colourful stones with an ice cream cone in one hand. The air was cooled by a brisk wind from off the lake, and he caught sight of a collective shiver ripple through the crowd on its night stroll. A moment later, it stood before him. A beloved backdrop. A simple clapboard structure with its rooftop lookout tower designed by the architects of Chapman, Oxley & Bishop. A firm defunct before our parents were even born. Gaetano said the building reminded him of "...the last sighs of an empire."
A week later, a timer for one hour was set. A canvass was passed around the table. Everyone was ready. Brushes paint glitter glue. Another timer. Another canvas. Until ten of them leaned against the graphene wall. A speedy vote was held. Four works were selected. When the paintings were primed and the last sandwich disappeared, it was time for a dreaded discussion on intention, approach and other grand subjects. The consensus was, for a few precious hours, we did not think. Suffering went quiet. And that is all there was to it.