The Spiranthes and the Imago

One summer afternoon, as the sun was about to set, a tiny and beautiful butterfly came flying over a meadow where the most extraordinary flowers grow. The butterfly, tired from flying, landed on a strange yet beautiful flower.

The flower, strange beyond compare–at least to the butterfly–has a long, erect, and spiraling stem with tubular flowers arranged in a more or less spirally twisted, showy, or inconspicuous terminal spike. Their color is typically a shade of white or yellowish-white or even pink.

The butterfly wondered both at the sun and at the flower.

“I have always been amazed by the sunset,” said the flower as the butterfly landed atop her. “I have always wanted to know how it feels like to die down.”

The  butterfly, upon hearing the words of the flower said, “Why is that? You are a very beautiful flower, but why the curiosity about dying?”

“I am a Spiranthes, and we are perennial flowers, my dear butterfly,” said the flower, “by that, it means we live throughout the year for more than two years. I have seen enough of this meadow, seen enough of this place, this time, this world.”

“And why is that so bad that makes you want to die?”

The flower sighed, like as if it could, and said, “The kids have picked my flowers, cut my stem, crushed my parts and even uprooted some of me. Insects and caterpillars have eaten me so many times before–I wonder if you were one of them.”

“I haven’t been here before,” said the butterfly, “so I wasn’t one of them.”

“That is much of a relief,” replied the flower, “not only that, when you have lived so much, you will see that there is nothing else to live for, especially for a flower. You cannot see anything else but this scenery. I have seen it so many times before. Flowers are stationary–we cannot move away from here. I have always wanted to see another place in another time, but alas! I am but a flower rooted to this bitter place. That is why I have thought that dying would make it better. That it is the only way I could move away.”

“Much of an escape,” said the butterfly, “I have freely roamed the places I have always wanted to go, seen so many different things, been free all my life, but you know what? I always want more. We butterflies only live for a very short period of time. I would rather stay in one place than die.”

“You are only saying that because you have seen so much,” the Spiranthes said as she waved with the evening breeze. “When all you see is white, life cannot be so exciting that you will want more.”

“When you can see the rainbow, yet you know it is short-lived, wouldn’t you want more of it?”

“We have different opinions, my dear butterfly,” said the flower. “If only I had your wings, then, I can go anywhere that I want.”

The butterfly fluttered above the flower. “If only I were a flower like you, then, I would be happy with this monotonous view than see the rest of the world knowing my days are numbered.”

The gentle evening breeze blew and danced with the wind. The clouds sailed in the dusk painted gold by the sunset. The evening birds started to sing their sweetest song.

“Alas,” cried the butterfly, “It is the sweetest song I have heard. This is such a farewell.”

“The sun has set,” noticed the flower. “I wish he took me with him as he died today.”

“But unlike the sun, there will be no tomorrow for us when we depart,” said the butterfly. “For a butterfly to live for fourteen days is a miracle. How I envy you living for years.”

“For a flower to live for years in the same panorama is like death prolonged,” said the flower. “How I envy your freedom.”

“Freedom is not always a blessing,” the butterfly replied. “Oftentimes, it is a curse that you must deal with.”

As the first star appeared, the butterfly dropped to the earth and expired.

The flower simply looked at the imago, being unable to do a thing for it. “What a waste of chance of freedom,” she said looking at the first star to appear. “Why was freedom given to creatures like them who would simply die short after?”

The evening breeze blew once more, singing the woeful song of the night as it turns cold, and carried the butterfly with her to a place only she knew where.

“These creatures were never happy about what they are,” sang the breeze, “if only they knew why they were, they would wither away, yet happy as they sun leaves the day.”

And I could not agree with her more.

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