5 comments

Fiction Thriller

Butterflies. Large, colourful wings painted like murals beating nonstop against the glass terrarium walls. Flap-flap-flap go their wings, never ceasing, be it the darkness of midnight or the weak sunlight of dawn. Just the sound of their wings are bringing me back to my dark place, where it smells of nothing but mud and emptiness.

“They’ll grow on you,” Brandy says, dropping a tiny collection of flowers into their home, along with a bottle cap filled with sugar water. She claps her hands delightedly like a child, while I am staring flabbergasted at her.

“How could you?”

“What?”

The words die on the tip of my tongue. Because my little sister, my spiteful cruel spawn of the devil sister, is looking back at me, smiling. Her eyes are small and wicked, little piggy eyes. Two large spots of red fill her cheeks like rouge, her telltale sign of happiness. It is at this moment when I know my little sister would do anything to hurt me.

“This one is especially pretty,” my mother says, oblivious to our animosity. She points at a butterfly with wings of the deepest emerald green.

“I like this one.” Brandy actually reaches into the tank and brushes the wing of a butterfly with purple and pink spots. I shiver. She relishes at my discomfort and strokes its antennae, then the body. She says mockingly, “What’s wrong? Scared?”

I barely make it in time to the bathroom. As I lean against the wall, I hear my mother ask Brandy what’s up with me. It’s more of pure curiosity than worry. She’s got our mother eating out of the palm of her hand. Getting what she wants is easier than taking candy like a baby.

Brandy is waiting for me outside the bathroom. I push past her into our shared bedroom. The detested tank of butterflies sits by the windowsill. She follows close behind me, her breath hot at the back of my neck.

“Are you really that scared of them?” She taunts, bouncing on her bed like a kid high on sugar. She looks absolutely gleeful, picking into my fears and amplifying them so they’re no softer than an airplane to my ears. “These little things?”

I lie back on my bed and try to shut her out by reciting the multiplication tables. 5 times 6 is 30, 5 times 7 is 35, 5 times 8 is 40.

“They’re so graceful. Wouldn’t an embroidery piece of butterflies be beautiful?”

11 times 15 is 165, 11 times 16 is 176.

“I mean, I was there with you. I’m not afraid of them. You’re such a scaredy cat.”

4 times 3 is 12, 4 times 4 is—

“I’m talking to you!” Without warning, something slams hard onto my face. Then onto my stomach, my legs, with such a crazy amount of force I have to wheeze for oxygen. When the assault is finally over, Brandy is standing over me holding her pillow. She leans down to put her mouth close to my ear and whispers, “Payback.”

“Brandy! Is everything alright?” My mother shouts from outside.

“Fine!” Brandy yells back, her mouth still close to my ear. I am still lying in my bed, rigid as a block of stone. She slams the pillow one more time onto my stomach, then goes over to the windowsill to admire her butterflies.


The next few days are a nightmare. Whenever I try to do my homework at my desk, all I can focus on are the beating of butterfly wings. Even if I plug in my earphones and play my music as loud as I can stand, I can still sense the rhythmic thud, as familiar to me as my own heartbeat.

Brandy watches me, day after day, staring at my empty worksheets. I’ve written nothing more than my name, drawn outlines of butterflies. She notices my distress, skates over it, relishes in it like a drug addict to heroine. 

Whenever I move my things to work in the dining room, you bet she’s one step ahead of me—the terrarium is already sitting on the dining table. When I move to the living room—it’s there. Isn’t it sad how I cannot find comfort in my own home? 

As I tuck myself into bed, Brandy is singing her goodnights to her butterflies.

“Goodnight Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond, Garnet. Goodnight Opal, Crystal, Aquamarine.” She kisses the tips of the wings, giggling as they brush across her face. She calls out to me, “Would you like to give them goodnight kisses too?”

I ignore her and pull the covers over my head. I feel a weight settle on the side of my bed. A hand crawls over the duvet, closes itself on my wrist, and squeezes tight enough to cut off my circulation. And in a voice as light as a feather, my sister brings to back to my dark place.

“Once upon a time, there were two sisters who went camping with a few friends.”

I moan inaudibly and try to wrench my hand out of her grasp, but she digs her nails in.

“As usual, they were fighting. Over something or the other, they were always fighting. This time, it was about who was going to get the firewood. Pretty stupid, wasn’t it? They ventured further into the forest, the light fading more by the second. And then suddenly, the oldest sister blurts out something unforgivable. So unforgivable, so disgusting, a hoard of moths swarm out of a tree, recognising the evil.

They surround the girls, and they’re screaming. Yelling incoherent words, flapping arms around and running around like headless chickens. Only the youngest sister makes it out of the swarm. And she leaves her older sister in the mess. Watches her as she falls apart, until she is nothing more than a sobbing, simpering, snotty mess. Don’t blame me for your mistakes. You deserve it. Never forget that.” 

Thanks to her storytelling, I wake in the middle of the night. My pillow is damp from tears and sweat, and I claw at my face to rid of the beating sensations that felt so real in my dreams. 

I turn to watch my sister in her bed. She is sleeping peacefully. Why should she be left unscarred by that trip? She deserves it as much as me. I wasn’t even the perpetrator to cause her humiliation—she should blame our parents for that. Or more specifically, the one who left her at our doorstep.

I tiptoe to the kitchen to gulp down a cold glass of water. I gaze out of the window towards the moon, which hangs pale and solemn in the night sky. Reflected back in the glass is a terrarium of butterflies.

It is as if I am possessed by a ghost. I find myself sitting at the dining table in front of the terrarium, my embroidery kit on my lap. I tremble as I reach into the tank and pick out a butterfly by its wings. Silver needles flash in the moonlight as I push them through the lithe black bodies. I weave them in and out. Thin rivers of crimson blood stain my fingers, dripping onto my shirt and pants. The butterflies shudder and whine, thrashing their wings desperately against my rigid fingers. I smile when they still, then, with the needles still sticking into them, pierce them through the leaves that adorn their prison.

In the morning, my little sister shrieks in horror.

January 28, 2021 14:38

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

5 comments

Kay (:
03:13 Feb 03, 2021

I'm just curious, could I copy and paste it to show my friends? I promise I won't use it as my own.

Reply

Taliah Melur
05:54 Feb 03, 2021

Sure. I really appreciate you asking me beforehand xx

Reply

Kay (:
16:51 Feb 03, 2021

Thanks, yeah I know some people can be protective of their works.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Kay (:
03:13 Feb 03, 2021

Wow! I love this story! It was so intriguing! The ending was so unexpected!! Amazing job! Keep up the great work! I wrote a story in the same prompt and would appreciate it if you read it and let me know what you thought! And if you liked it share it with others(:

Reply

Taliah Melur
05:54 Feb 03, 2021

Thank you! And ofc, I'd love to read your submission x

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.