Author's Note: Hey everyone! This is my newest story before I go away during the March Break, so give me reviews as a going away present!
Summary: Why is it such a comfort to laugh at the gilded butterflies?
We two alone will sing like birds I' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies
- King Lear (5.3.10-14)
He hadn't seen her for days. He was starting to get worried. It had almost been two weeks since the funeral. She was barely at school. She never answered her phone or his countless text messages. If it wasn't for the articles she had sent to the school newspaper, he wouldn't have thought that she was still alive. This wasn't a time for her to be alone. This was a time when she felt she was drowning in a deep sea of people. And he couldn't get to her. But he never stopped trying.
He decided to take a scenic route home from school. He decided to walk through the woods behind the school, always being one to admire nature. The sun shone through the trees. The birds were singing in a harmonic choir. The spotted butterflies were tending to the fragrant flowers with much care. And the stream of water sparkled in the sunbeams. Everything that he loved about spring was captured in a wooded trail.
But then he heard something that he had never heard here before; soft cries. It was coming from the river. He walked off the trail and he followed the cries. He found someone sitting on the bench, which was facing the stream of water.
And right away, he knew who it was.
The girl he had been dating all throughout high school and was going to Stanford with in September.
The girl he had proposed to a month before…just before the accident.
He sighed as he walked over to her, already knowing that she knew he was there. He sat beside her but she didn't even give him a glance. She was shaking and she clutched onto a frail blossom. And right before his eyes, her eyes became the river.
"Gabriella…" He said in a soothing voice, placing his hand on her kneecap. She looked away from him and held a tighter grip on the broken flower. Her shoulders shuddered to make up for her strength to hold back her racking sobs.
"Don't say anything Troy." She pleaded, avoiding all eye contact. Troy sighed and he ran a hand through his dark brown hair. He knew that she still wouldn't be ready to talk about it. All he wanted to do was talk about it.
"Jesus Gabs, its moments like this when I wish that I smoked or did origami." She finally looked at him.
"Smoking isn't good for you, Troy! You know that it'll derail your basketball abilities." Gabriella said, her eyes still flowing with tears. Troy nodded his head, his eyes stuck on hers.
"Smoking is only as unhealthy as those thoughts you're hiding Gabriella."
Gabriella quickly looked away from Troy and glued her eyes back to the stream. Troy sighed loudly. He put an arm around Gabriella and he pulled her in close to his body. She was stiff against him but she didn't pull back from him. That was a start. He pressed a gentle kiss on her temple. He also didn't realize until now how thin she became.
"Please talk to me, Gabs. I'm your boyf-…I'm your fiancé. I have a right to know what you're feeling so I can help you. I loved you yesterday, I will love you tomorrow…and I love you right now. If that doesn't count for something then I don't what will."
There was a silence. The only sounds heard were the singing birds and the ever-flowing river. But he wouldn't pressure her to say anything. But he made a promise to himself that he would not get off this bench until Gabriella told him what she was feeling. She shuddered, trembled and shook in his arms but there were no words. He saw her clutching the flower tightly and somewhere in the back of his mind, he wondered if the flower was symbolic of her.
She got up from his chest and she arched forward, staring at the dirt beneath her feet. She wiped away the tears that cleansed her cheeks, but she couldn't get it all away. But it didn't matter to her anywhere.
"Do you remember that part in King Lear where Lear and Cordelia are captured by Edmund's army and Lear tells Cordelia that they'll laugh at the gilded butterflies together behind bars?" Gabriella asked, looking into Troy's eyes.
Troy bit his lip ad tried to remember. He didn't like anything Shakespeare. Troy was almost certain that he never paid attention in any of the classes when his plays were analyzed. He was pretty sure that he got Sparksnote on all of the Shakespeare plays he had to read for English class. But he knew that Gabriella read Shakespeare like it was the bible. The only thing that Troy actually liked about Shakespeare was that it reminded him of her, and all the times they did a scene from Shakespeare's plays for drama class. Troy would have to contradict himself; he did love As You Like It because they were cast as the leading characters in the school play. And although Gabriella loved Shakespeare, what relevance did it have to right now?
"Yeah I remember that scene. I remember Ms. Gomes started crying in that scene. But what about it?" She didn't answer right away. She just stared at the dwindling flower that was still tightly clutched in her hand.
"That line always stuck with me. Why is it such a comfort to laugh at the gilded butterflies? What is that supposed to prove? Are you supposed to feel high and mighty just because you have the ability to laugh at something that has more beauty than you?" Gabriella asked, crushing the flower even more so.
"You are beautiful." Troy quietly reminded her. Gabriella slowly shook her head from side to side. The flower continued to be crushed in her hand.
"No I'm not. I'm not a butterfly. Butterflies will never wait to soar; their beauty is to be shared with the world. They don't deserve to be laughed at by people who are trapped in the prison of their own mind. I am like a moth, dazzled by combustion. I will always be drawn to the flames…and I'll really give everybody a reason to laugh." Gabriella said, harsh tears falling. She unclenched her hand. The flower was broken.
And in the palm of her hand, there was a crushed butterfly. It was no longer gilded. And neither was Gabriella.
"I laugh at butterflies to mask the jealousy I feel to be good like them again." Troy knew what Gabriella meant by wanting to be "good" again. He began running his hands through her hair.
"Gabriella, your father's death was not your fault." Troy reminded her in a firm voice.
Gabriella's parents divorced when she was eight years old. They fought over financial issues all the time until finally neither one could cope in their marriage anymore. She rarely saw her father, but she always had a closer relationship with him than she did with her mother. She told her father everything that a girl would only tell a mother. Gabriella always told her father about the most intimate details of her relationship with Troy, and her father never felt uncomfortable having these discussions with his daughter.
But then it only took one conversation to change the existence of their entire relationship.
"It was Troy." Gabriella insisted, shutting her eyes when the tears continued to fall from her eyes. Troy took her hand in his and gave it a squeeze.
"A drunk driver hit his car. And that driver wasn't you. Explain to me how that was your fault." Gabriella ripped her hand from Troy's and she jumped off the bench. Her eyes were wild when she turned to face him.
"He was in that car because of me! He was mad at me and he took a drive to cool off. I never should've told him about us." Gabriella sobbed passionately. Troy got up off the bench and he stood before Gabriella. He put his hands on her petite waist and held her close.
"We're both eighteen. You just turned eighteen last month. He wouldn't have been okay to know that his little girl was planning a wedding in her teens. But I know your father would've been comfortable with the knowledge that we would've had a long engagement. We would get married once we graduated from Stanford. Your father knew all of this; he was just in shock Gabby. He did not die angry at you." Troy tried to assure Gabriella, holding her close to his chest. Gabriella shook her head and she pulled herself from his hold and she ran to edge of the stream. She thought she was going to be sick. The river from her eyes soon mixed with the river below her.
"I feel like Ophelia from Hamlet." Another Shakespeare reference.
"How?" Troy asked. He didn't mind Hamlet; it was one of Shakespeare's better pieces of work.
"After Hamlet accidently killed Ophelia's father, Polonius, she was grieving. She had lost her father and the love of her life. Her mind was so far gone that…she killed herself by drowning herself in the river. Maybe I should be like Ophelia and step off the ledge and look for my father underwater." Gabriella monotonously said, lifting her foot off the edge.
Although the stream posed as no threat, Troy leapt to Gabriella and he picked her up and spun her around. He cupped her face into both of his hands and he passionately kissed her. He kissed her with everything that he had in his heart. Every ounce of love he harbored for Gabriella came in the form of a single kiss. She kissed him back, but not without letting more tears fall from her eyes. He pulled back slowly, staring deeply into her chocolate eyes. He began caressing her tear-stained cheeks.
"You are nothing like Ophelia, Gabriella. When she killed herself in that river, she had no one there to save her; not even herself. But I am the Hamlet that will save you from that river. Whether it's the real thing or the metaphor, I am always going to be on the brink to save you from drowning. You are never going to lose me the way Ophelia lost Hamlet."
And just like that, Troy suddenly understood Shakespeare.
She stared into his cerulean eyes seemingly for hours. She loved him like Juliet loved Romeo. Like Ophelia loved Hamlet. Like Lady Macbeth loved Macbeth. She would do anything for Troy. But she knew that she was not Goneril or Regan; she would never choose a lover over a father. She was really Cordelia, who loved King Lear regardless of his flaws or fatherly tactics. And because of that, she knew what her father would want her to say in this moment.
"I love you." She whispered before pressing a gentle kiss on Troy's lips. He smiled back at her and he wrapped his arms around her body, inhaling the sweet smell of her shampoo. It was strawberry vanilla.
"I wouldn't doubt it for a second." Troy whispered as he pressed a kiss on her forehead. She was a dead lyric. He was the music that gave her life.
As they embraced in front of the stream, Troy caught view of a golden butterfly, just flying by without care. Troy watched as it glided through the air, uncertain of its next move or whom it will meet next. Troy watched as it landed on a flower.
And a chuckle escaped Troy's lips.
This should've been a nice treat for all you Shakespeare lovers out there. So read and review if you love HSM, Zanessa AND Shakespeare.