Butterflies are Souls

"Butterflies are the souls of the children who die in landmines and suicide bombs."

Ari stared at his sister. "Oh yeah?"

Tali frowned up at his incredulity. "Yeah, Ari, I just decided." She was eleven and gorgeous with her olive skin and her loose brown curls and her deep brown eyes and the tiny Star of David that he knew had been a birthday gift from their father.

It was Ziva who had called him, five years later. She was the only one who thought to let him know, who thought about what Tali had meant to him. He had forgotten the discussion about butterflies. It was just an awful tragedy and they had stayed on the phone for hours and remembered every other moment of their sister's life. They had sworn promises of vengeance and of protection and hung up with only each other in the world.

That night he dreamt of one million butterflies.

He dreamt of trying to find Talli amongst them all. He dreamt of failing miserably. He tried to chase them and capture them and speak to them, but most of all he could not harm them, for any of them could be Tali.

At the very end of his dream, as he was falling asleep in a field, exhausted from all of his searching, a beautiful blue butterfly landed on his nose. He knew, somehow, in that dream-way, that is was Tali. But before his eyes she slowly began to disintegrate. Her wings because ragged and worn and the dust from them settled onto his face.

You broke me, her voice reverberated through his head, clear as if she were standing beside him. You broke me, my Ari.

-Surely you understand the power of phobias?

-Butterflies.

-Sorry?

-I fear butterflies

Ari Haswari never touched a butterfly again in his whole life.

When Ziva walked clear of the Tel Aviv airport, accompanying her brother's body home, she revelled at the pure blue butterfly that landed on his casket. It was beautiful.

It tried, then, to fly away, but it only got a foot from her before the wind forced it backwards. She caught it gently in her hands, but it would be dead before they reached the car that would speed them away from prying eyes. Ziva David would bury the lonely butterfly with her lonely brother and she would hum herself a lonely tune of sorrow.