Zaviera props her feet on the dash of the Mini, folds her hands behind her head, and says, “This is what I’m going to do when we get home. I’m gonna relax with my videos before the boys get home.” Outside, the bay stretches and stretches, the sunset spreading along its surface, the reflection of a sinking sun chasing the oily grey of a moody sky back to the edges of the earth to be absorbed and reimagined.
“OH!” Zaviera’s ‘OH’ comes with a flinging of her arms, a full-body commitment to the exclamation; her feet slide down the dash and hit the floor, her eyes widen as that strange cackle of hers comes tumbling out full of spikes and blossoms and polka-dotted creatures with multiple eyes and limbs.
“Mommy!” she says “It’s like a gigantic butterfly. The biggest in the whole world.”
She says this with the sort of ‘a-ha‘ tone she gets when she is proud…and my daughter’s pride is a thing made of wild yellow silk. She can roll around in it, parachute from great heights with it, fly it like a flag.
“What do you mean?”
I’m putting on the blinker, slowing down, thinking about this precious cargo next to me and all the terrifying ways I’m responsible for her…and the reality that one day I’ll have to let her go.
“The hills are its wings,” she says, curving the air with her hands. And I get it. I can see it all unfolding in my mind.
“You mean the streets?” I ask, flicking off the blinker and changing gear. “The streets are the antennae?”
“Yes!” Zaviera smiles at me with an effortlessness that I can’t remember, not even when I was the same age — I don’t remember that smile but it remembers me.
“The butterfly is pressed down,” she says, miming it out with her hands. “The butterfly is pressed down and we’re driving on its antennae.”
“Yes, I can see that,” I say, switching from second to third gear.
I see it.
I see it, and I want to invest all my faith in the moment. This moment when my daughter and I are riding in a Mini on the back of Eternity’s most beautiful butterfly…
…somewhere we are forever safe and on our way home.