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Inspirational

       It had been five days since the incident. Five whole days and yet, it seemed as if it was yesterday. It was a quiet afternoon; I was laying on the couch and watching television with my cat. Suddenly, screaming erupted. I can still hear her screams echoing across the apartment hallway. The terrifying sobs of someone fighting for their life. The crashing of various items being thrown. She was crying out for help and asking him to stop. I looked out my window, but their blinds were shut tight. Thankfully, police had showed up within minutes after I called them. This wasn’t their first time at this address. However, there was something different this time. I watched through my blinds as he stood, nonchalant, leaning against the wall of the hallway while a few officers tried to gather his story. It made me angry, the way he stood there with his hands in his pockets, as if nothing happened. Another pair of officers were inside, getting her side of the story. After several minutes, they took him away in handcuffs, which was new. They usually tell him to spend the night at a friend or family member’s and “cool off”. This time, gloved police officers gathered evidence, and two of her friends rushed in to support her.

            The first few days were quiet. Not a noise coming from the apartment, not a curtain open. Just silence. I often wondered if I should knock on the door. Would I say something? Or simply leave a homemade goodie by the door with a nice note? We have never met, outside of polite, neighborly greetings if we pass in the hall. I just wanted her to know she has more support than she knows. But the fifth day, something had changed. The front curtain was open, and now sat a little orange pot with dainty, pink daisies sprouting out of the dirt. A little pop of color; a sign of life for the world to see. 

            After another week, I was bringing up groceries when I noticed a new, cute welcome mat outside her door. The open curtains, originally a dull grey, were now bright teal with a flower pattern across them. I smiled, hoping the change of scenery brought her some happiness. A few more weeks went by, when I saw half a dozen full, black garbage bags outside of her apartment. The edge of a photo frame peeking out of one, the ear of a teddy bear poking out from another. It seemed she was clearing out his things, and anything that reminded her of him. “Good, the less reminders the better” I silently cheered her on. 

            The following weekend brought what seemed to be a deep cleaning session. She set various pieces of furniture outside in the hallway as she and her two friends vacuumed, and then steam cleaned the apartment. Music blasted loudly throughout those days, but I didn’t mind. I know that when I clean, I use it as a stress-relief. I hoped she too was using it to clear her mind. Sometime that weekend, I bumped into her and her friends in the hallway. I was surprised to see she had cut her hair short and had some new high lights. Compared to many post-breakup hairstyles, she pulled it off quite well. Polite smiles and greetings were shared as we went on our own ways.

            I started seeing her when I would leave for my early morning shifts. Hair in a ponytail, ear buds plugged in, she would jog around the complex. Her white sneakers would reflect off my headlights as I drove by. She usually ran in a light jacket and leggings. Overtime, it appeared she got more confident as she eventually was running in shorts and a tank top. I also noticed when several packages from a pet store started arriving at her door. When I was coming home from work one day, I saw her struggling to carry a massive, blue cat tree up our apartment stairs. I helped her with it, pushing and twisting the giant beast until we finally made it to the third-floor landing. She thanked me as she finished dragging it into her apartment. I caught a glimpse of a sweet grey tabby cat circling her feet before the door shut behind her.

            One Friday morning, I saw her putting a purple suitcase into her car. Her friends were also with her, each with their own suitcase. Wearing big hats and swimsuits under their clothes, they continued packing the car. They put a cooler, water floats, and even a tent in the back. They excitedly chatted while getting into her car and driving off. It wasn’t until I was walking to my car Monday morning that I saw her car parked back in her designated spot.

            And then came the moving boxes. Over the next few weeks, the curtains, the lamp by the window, and her doormat had gotten packed away. On her last day, the daisy pot disappeared. There was chaos as hired movers went up and down the stairs with heavy furniture and packed boxes. That day I left a little batch of cookies with a good luck note attached to the tin box. Though we never truly got to know each other, I was happy for her. It had been about 7 months now since the incident. It appeared she had slowly started to find who she was again. I’m sure she still has a long way to go. It isn’t easy for anybody to move forward from traumatic events. I suppose, the best way to truly move on from this point forward is to leave this place in the past. I hope she can leave the horrible memories behind her, as she creates beautiful new memories.  Now, as nothing more than neighbors, I don’t know any of this for sure. I like to think that from afar, I watched a cocooned caterpillar evolve into a dazzling butterfly. Nonetheless, I truly hope that she has grown into a happier, better version of herself.

November 04, 2021 19:53

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4 comments

Dustin Gillham
04:05 Nov 11, 2021

Emma, You shine in this. Truly. Bright and beautiful. The engine of your prose begins immediately and carries the reader through something sweet. 'The Butterfly' is something to be proud of, and I could not have asked for anything more after finishing the last words "better version of herself." A part of me stood standing, wishing for the same, and I applaud you for the succinct richness in which I was drawn in, wishing for more. Thank you for the honor of letting me read this work. You are very talented, and I look forward to furthe...

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Emma Johnson
19:25 Nov 11, 2021

Wow! Dustin, thank you so much. That brought tears to my eyes. This was my first submission as I am finally pursuing writing, which I have always wanted to do. This story was actually based on a true story in my life that happened about a year or two ago, so it meant a lot to me to be able to submit it. Thank you for your kind words. They are much appreciated.

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Colleen Brownlee
08:24 Nov 12, 2021

Thankyou for writing this story, you write so beautifully.

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Emma Johnson
19:04 Nov 12, 2021

Thank you, Colleen! I appreciate it.

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