A chilled wind swept out from the woods beside the church. The overgrown rose bushes rustled in the breeze. A few dying petals released their grasp on the stems and fell to the ground silently. The early morning sunlight touched the soft dirt of the garden with delicate hands.
Coughing roughly, Pastor Galswells pushed open the heavy doors of the church. He wore a pair of worn brown pants and a cotton shirt. It was an outfit he had not worn for years. Walking down the steps, he walked around the side of the building and looked at the small garden. Picking up a splintered rake, he began to clean away the moldy leaves that had blown in from the forest.
As he worked, he began to sweat and he wiped at his brow. A small smile played at the edges of his mouth and it took him a while to notice it.
He worked for hours in the garden that day. When he was done, he leaned the rake against the wall and exhaled a loud breath. He was thinking about going into town the next day and buying some new plants and more gardening tools as he walked back into the church.
Victor watched Pastor Galswells close the church doors behind him. He watched the old man work in the little garden the entire time, sitting on a stone at the edge of the forest. Victor envied the man every time he wiped at his brow. The ability to sweat and to feel warm was something that Victor could barely even remember feeling.
His blue lips set in a straight line, he turned his attention away from the closed church door and looked towards the roses. They were many different colours. White, red, orange. Victor suddenly noticed that something was moving on top of one particular white rose. Focusing his wet eyes, he saw two white wings moving up and down slowly. It was a large butterfly and as soon as Victor figured it out, it flew into the sky, lilting gracefully away into the forest.
"I think butterflies are pretty, don't you?"
Twisting his head around to see who had spoken, Victor tried to stand up at the same time but clumsily fell over instead. A trill of laughter entered his ears and suddenly, a small girl with long black hair stood over him.
"Are you alright?" she asked, a look of slight concern on her pretty face.
"You can see me?" asked Victor, picking himself up, discreetly wiping away some river water that gushed out of his mouth as he spoke.
"Of course I can, silly!" she said, standing back from him as he got up. She peered around, turning her head excitedly. "Did you see where the butterfly went off to?"
"I think it went over that way," said Victor, bewildered, pointing off towards the forest.
"Oh well. I'm going to go look for more in the garden. Do you want to help me?" the little girl asked.
She turned her blue eyes towards Victor and they held him with a tight grip. Slowly, a great relief and warmth rolled through his body. He silently shook his head towards her and watched as she ran off towards the garden. She jumped up as a new butterfly fluttered between two rose bushes and cupped the insect carefully in her hands. Victor could see that she put her lips close to her hands and she whispered to the bug inside. After a moment, she released her hands and let the butterfly go.
"Vanessa! Where are you?" cried a woman near the bridge. She walked around the church and saw the little girl playing in the garden. "Vanessa, come here right now! You are going to be late for your piano lessons with Miss Victoria and you know that she'll make you do exercises if you are, so get going!"
The girl stopped playing and ran to her mother. They began to walk back together but Vanessa broke away and turned back towards the forest.
"Goodbye! I'll see you later!" cried out Vanessa towards Victor. He waved back at her.
"Vanessa, don't you use imaginary friends as an excuse to missing your lesson. Let's go," said her mother, reaching for her daughter's sides, tickling her.
The girl laughed joyfully and waved at Victor a last time before she turned back to her mother.
Victor watched them walk across the bridge and back into town. The sun started its descent into the horizon and the clouds changed colours of orange and pink. Looking down at his hand, Victor could see that it was becoming transparent. After a few moments, his hand was completely gone. He could feel the rest of his arms disappearing and then his legs after that.
Victor felt calm and happy. He knew that he should feel afraid for what was happening to him. He knew that he must be leaving.
Before he slipped into nothingness, he thought about his wife Victoria and her laughter as they walked through the threshold of their new house. He thought about their nights together and the moments of silent embraces. He then thought about dust and the colour blue and fluttering wings. There were two women in his life and before he left he realized that he had loved them both.
Vanessa went back to the garden the next day. She looked for the funny man with wet clothes but she never found him. She continued playing in the garden and helped the pastor from the church plant some new flowers in the ground. They laughed together as they watched a pair of butterflies twirl around each other in the air. The sun shown brightly on them and Vanessa watched as the butterflies disappeared into the forest.
Author's Note: Thank you all for reading and reviewing my story! I think this is my first actually complete fanfiction story that isn't just a one shot thing. That's kind of sad. Anyway, I'm so happy so many people read this, (I love those stat counters) and I hope you guys enjoyed it. Thanks!