Everyone has their butterfly.
Warwick has one tattooed on his inner elbow. It's a neat party trick, sure, to say that he can flap its wings to make it fly. The ladies love it.
It's not why he has it. It's to remind him that one little thing can make his world change.
If he hadn't fallen off the monkey bars in second grade, he would have never scraped his knee on the woodchips. He wouldn't have been sent to the nurse. He wouldn't have found a girl sitting on the cot, feigning ill to get out of gym class. She wouldn't have smiled at him, and he wouldn't have waved at her in the cafeteria the next week, and wouldn't have turned around to find out that her class sat right behind him.
They wouldn't have had their playdate. Then he wouldn't have met her brother Grey, and they wouldn't have become best friends.
Grey likes to point out to him that they would have met eventually, because they both ended up on the baseball team, but Warwick waves the thought away. The butterfly theory is his truth.
It's another Friday night party, and he's sitting on the couch, watching Ellard try to pick up a girl. Grey is bored of it all. This is what their weekends consist of, because Ellard insists on finding the one. He wants to fix his own butterfly chain.
"Oof," he says, taking a sip of his soda. "This does not look promising."
"Look away," his best mate says. Nobody wants a witness of rejection. Warwick complies, making a show of putting his arm up to block his view. A girl notices his tattoo, and he has to go through his spiel, like always, because girls like wise guys. In the non-sarcastic sense of the word.
The girl steadies herself with a hand to his chest. The couch arm isn't the best seat, and she isn't the best flirt, but he takes the opportunity to practice, because he knows this butterfly is going nowhere.
"I don't get it."
"Take Ellard for instance. If he hadn't slipped on that puddle back in high school, he wouldn't have broken his leg, which means he wouldn't have missed the ski trip, and his girlfriend wouldn't have cheated on him. He wouldn't have been dateless to prom, and he wouldn't have asked the only sitting girl in the room to dance, and she wouldn't have kissed him. She wouldn't have been his first true love, and she wouldn't have broken his heart, and he wouldn't be trying to find someone to fill the hole." He glances back to see that his friend has moved on to a new girl. Different body, same attitude.
She gives him a once over. "Poor baby. He's a cutie."
Her hand is gone, along with the rest of her, running over to Ellard to tap him on the shoulder.
"And he wouldn't find a one night stand because a girl took pity on him." Grey shakes his head. "You really know how to woo a girl, don't cha, War?"
Grey would like to point out that he didn't get his tattoo to symbolize his best friend's dumb chaos theory. He couldn't be bothered with that garbage. He's not denying that it exists, but he's not going to spend hours unraveling his life to figure out that if he had just stayed in his room and not come out at the smell of freshly baked cookies at his sister's playdate, he wouldn't have to deal with the guy who insists that getting that refill at McDonalds made him have to stop at the rest stop where he took a chance on a lottery ticket. He wouldn't have to be reminded that his friend won five hundred.
He likes to mock his butterfly for choosing to spend it on getting stuck behind the tallest head in his second row concert seat.
Grey's butterfly is for his grandmother. She loved the things. Heck, whenever he'd bring Warwick over, she'd gawk at his elbow, as if she hadn't seen it already.
He opts to put his on his thigh. It's a terrible mistake, because he's flirting with a girl, and she's led him into her bedroom. He hasn't had this kind of attention in months. She tugs at his shorts, and that's when she sees it.
"You have a butterfly tattoo?" There's a hint of disgust in her voice.
"Oh." She's pulling away, his shorts hovering around the base of his butt.
He feels awkward. He could pull them back up, but he was kind of hoping that this was going somewhere other than the direction he thinks it's going in.
"I got it in memory of my grandmother." His body is already peppered in ink. It was either this or the tramp stamp, and even he knows that's not okay.
She nods, and he captures her lips in a kiss. It seems to do the trick for a moment.
Just a moment.
"I'm sorry, I can't do this. Not with your grandmother staring at me." She wipes her mouth, adjusting her blouse. "I'm going to go."
He doesn't chase after her.
Ellard just wants to be part of the gang.
"Dude, you do know these things are like, cursed, right?" He can hear the words Grey is saying, and yet his brain doesn't process them, because there's a butterfly on the back of his neck now.
"I already have a girlfriend. I'm golden."
He's not. She sees his newly cropped hair and dumps him. Says that she only stuck around because he was hot, and what the heck was with these boys and butterflys?
He thinks it looks cool. He's been checking it out in the mirror.
Butterflies are supposed to be good luck. His buddy Warwick has one, and he won big on a scratch off, which he uses as evidence to back his theory. As for their romantic luck, he has another theory.
The butterfly is saving them from wasting time on all the wrong girls. That's a great lot of luck.
They're at another party, and Grey is waiting by the bathroom with him, talking about wanting to get his tattoo covered.
"I'm telling you, this thing is ruining my love life." He tugs the leg of his shorts down. "Girls don't dig guys with butterfly tattoos."
It's at this exact moment that a girl decides to prove him wrong.
"Oh my gawsh, I love your tattoo!" It's his only one, and she is definitely pointing at him.
He takes her home that night. And the next.
He thinks this good luck thing is working.
They're at the chapel now. Warwick is flitting around, and he can't help but string the events all back together like the chaotic theorist he is.
"If I hadn't gotten this tattoo, Ellard would have never copied me. He would have never met a girl at a party, and he would have never brought her home. They would have never fallen in love and-." Grey jabs him in the stomach.
"Just shut up and release the butterflies already."
"Rude." He does as he's told.
The butterflies soar.