I suppose it all started with my mother, although it wasn’t entirely her fault. But I can truthfully say it started with her.
She wasn’t a good mother. Perhaps not the worst, she didn’t leave me to die on the side of the road or attempted to drown me in the bathtub, but she was not a good mother. My self esteem was shattered the moment I showed her a picture I drew of her while at kindergarten. She took one look at it and sneered.
‘You made me fat!’
Her ridicule was hurled at me at every waking moment. If I forgot to make my bed, she screamed at how I was turning her house into a pig sty. If I remembered, she’d yell at me for half assing it. If I made sure it was made like a hotel’s, she’d scold me for not cleaning up my toys.
I never brought friends over, not after she’d judge each and every one.
‘She dresses like a slut.’
‘He looks like a troublemaker.’
‘She’s such a bitch to you, stop letting her boss you around!’
‘Can’t you find someone else to be friends with?’
I tried. I did. Not a single one could meet her impeccably high standards, so I stopped trying.
The second one to ruin me was a teacher in high school, Mr. Frye. He was the English teacher. In my spare time, I managed to pick up a habit for poetry. I thought I was getting rather good at it, mostly because I didn’t let my mother read any of it.
A poetry assignment came up in his class, which I was excited for. I spent hours working on the poem, working out every little detail. I turned it in with a smile on my face and I dreamed about being published.
I got a D. Barely a D, actually. It wiped the smile off my face faster than I thought possible. The red ink glared up at my from the page, with a note telling me to meet with Mr. Frye after school. I was desperate to find out what I did wrong. What I could do to improve, so I could follow my dreams.
“Caterpillars? Butterflies?” I recognized the sneer on Mr. Frye’s face. I’d seen it so many times on the face of my mother. “What is this, first grade, Jamison?”
My ears burned red hot as I tried to explain the metaphor behind it all, but Mr. Frye cut me off.
“Grow up or get out of my class. You write like a kid. This isn’t a classroom for kids. Get out.”
I fled from the room, my eyes burning with tears. It all came down to him disliking the subject matter, I realized that night. Not the quality. He didn’t like caterpillars transforming into butterflies. The next day I burned my journals, every little poem. Just the idea of writing one made my stomach crawl.
The third and final nail in the coffin that made me what I am was my girlfriend Alyssa.
Alyssa was from a similar situation. Awful mom. Nonexistent father. She always came to school late because her mom kept her up late by all the ‘suitors’ she brought home with her. She usually slept through first period. I made a habit of taking notes for her to help her pass.
And she repaid me by taking me on dates and being my first… everything. First kiss. First girlfriend. First, well… time.
It was that first time that things went wrong. She’d insisted she was on the pill, and I was naive. But birth control can fail. More precautions should’ve been taken.
And my senior year I dropped out of highschool to get a job at a local gas station to take care of Alyssa and our future child. It was a necessity, and something I was fully devoted to. I was going to be the father I never had, that Alyssa never had. I’d go to night school once Alyssa could work again. Get a degree. Make a home that was welcoming and kind.
I didn’t think about miscarriage. I didn’t think that the baby wouldn’t live. It would’ve been a girl.
Alyssa was destroyed by this. She couldn’t get out of bed, leaving me to make ends meet at the gas station. I’d come home exhausted and collapse in bed, only to wake up the next morning, eat a bagel, and repeat the cycle. I’d make sure to bring home food for Alyssa, which I was thankful she’d have the strength to get out of bed to eat.
Being so tired though, I made mistakes. The drawer came up short one too many times, and the manager pulled me aside.
“I’m sorry but we’re going to have to let you go, Jamison. I won’t mention this to any of your future employers, just clock out and don’t raise a scene about it.”
I walked home, unable to feel anything. I was unable to process this. How was I supposed to care for my depressed girlfriend if I didn’t have a job?
When I walked in the door, I heard something I hadn’t for months. Laughter. Overjoyed that Alyssa had finally pulled through her funk, I started hurrying to the bedroom, only to hear the thing that broke me.
“Yeah. He still has no idea the baby wasn’t his. I’m kinda relieved I lost it. It would’ve been kinda obvious since Josiah’s black… he just goes to work and makes us money and comes home while I chill all day. I never have to work again, isn’t it great?”
I walked out of the apartment and threw up on the sidewalk.
I’ve been destroyed by these people in my life. Unmade. A cruel mother, a cold teacher, and a lying lover. But I’ve decided I shall remake myself.
I love the thought of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. To transform from something fat and hideous to something graceful and colorful. Rebirth. I craved that, and I decided now I should remake myself. Start from scratch. And for that, I needed a time of dormancy. Time away from the world, somewhere quiet, warm, and safe.
I made my cocoon out of the people who made me what I was. First, my mother. She was asleep when I got home, and it took no effort to take the gun from her safe and put one between her eyes. She never even knew it was me. A regret I’ll probably have in the future.
Mr. Frye always worked late on Fridays, finishing up ruining his student’s dreams by using that red pen to destroy their hearts. I caught him by his car and put two bullets in his chest. He was an old man, he couldn’t have put up much of a fight, but I didn’t want to take the chance.
The final part was Alyssa. She took advantage of my nature. Of my love for her.
I strangled her until the light left her eyes.
With the parts gathered, I started to work and put my cocoon together. Their skin was more than enough to sew it together. Their meat I placed in tupperwares to join me, so I would have plenty of nourishment. I put the heat on high in my apartment, so I’d be plenty warm.
I stripped my clothes off and folded them, setting them on top of my dresser.. I’d redress once my transformation was complete. The cocoon looked almost like a womb, quite fitting for what I was doing. Completely nude, ready to be born again. I pushed myself through the hole I’d left, the heat of the skin feeling as comfortable as a warm blanket.
In minutes, I was completely encased. Folded up like a fetus. I smiled and closed my eyes.
Soon I’d become the butterfly.