Author : Lirael

“What’s your name?”

“Butterfly. Butterfly Phoenix.”

“Well, that’s a stupid name.”

Butterfly heard that a lot. Being only five years old, she took the insults rather well. She never even thought to change her name. She loved it. Her mother told her that her Daddy, a famous airship pilot, had given it to her when she was born, and that he’d renamed his ship just for her. Butterfly often saw her father on the television and in the newspapers, standing proudly next to his ship, the Butterfly.

Captain Phoenix ran one of the most successful trade companies on the planet, and stood at the head of an entire fleet of airships. The money poured into his accounts, and his personal accountants divided up the profits.

Being five, Butterfly wasn’t interested in the money or politics of her father’s company. Those were grown-up things. Instead, Butterfly liked to watch her father’s ships on screen. Seeing the beautiful colours of the decorated sails that they used, the flags, and the bright, shimmering designs painted across their hulls gave her a sense of pride.

The pilots and crews were always immaculate in uniforms of different colours, each individual to their ship. Those ships were her inspiration. Butterfly spoke of nothing else. Her mother, a patient, gentle woman, did her best to interest Butterfly in things more appropriate for her age and gender, but she simply refused. For her last birthday, Captain Phoenix had given her a small model of the Butterfly, and today, she had brought it to school. She’d been thrilled when someone noticed it.

“I want to fly one of my daddy’s ships someday. See, this is the one he flies now. It’s named after me.”

“I know that ship. It’s on my daddy’s plasma all the time. Captain Phoenix is the greatest airship pilot in the world!”

“I know! He gave me this ship for my birthday.”

“He did not!”

“Did too!”

“Let me see it, then!” By now, a crowd had clustered around Butterfly, and the dark-eyed boy who had approached her. Butterfly shook her head, her black hair swinging back and forth over her shoulders.

“No, I’m not allowed to let anyone else touch it.” She turned away to shield her prize, and the boy gave her a push.

“Let me see!”

“No!” Butterfly stepped back, and squared herself. The boy pushed her again, but Butterfly didn’t move. She held her ship in one hand, and balled the other into a fist. “You leave me alone, or else!”

“Shut your mouth, Butterfly! If you won’t let me see your stupid ship, I’ll just take it!” The boy lunged at Butterfly, and reached for her ship. Shocked at his boldness, she stumbled, and he took hold of her model, ripping it from her hands. One of the flags broke off, and clattered to the playground pavement.

“You broke it!”

“Hah, this piece of junk was going to fall apart anyway!” Lifting it over his head, the boy hurled Butterfly’s ship as far away as he could. It smashed into the ground, and shattered. Butterfly felt a lump form in her throat, and her eyes burned with tears. Without thinking, she took that fist she’d made, and launched herself forward, striking a punch across the boy’s face, his nose crunching from the impact.

The playground monitor was upon them in moments.

“Butterfly! You broke poor Darrin’s nose!”

“Yes, well,” Butterfly paused, giving Darrin a cold stare, “that piece of junk was going to get broken sooner or later.”

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