She squirmed uncomfortably in the seat next to mine. "Daddy
, are they almost done yet?"
"Not just yet sweetie," he said looking at his watch, noting the late hour, and shifting his body closer to his daughter of 5 or 6, "I'll let you know when they get close."
The little girl let out a dramatized sigh. "But da. . ."
"SHHHHHH!" came the response from several people to my left.
We were sitting on the balcony level of the University Theater, watching the second half of a choral concert that I had just finished performing in. The Latin from the song the Chamber Choral was performing spilled over the edge of our level and filled the entire theater with light rythms and sixteenth century harmony.
I glanced at the child seated beside me, and noticed that her lower lip was quivering. Her pale eyes were on the verge of spilling over, and her body shook in anticipation of oncoming sobs.
I smiled at her. "Do you like butterflies?" I whispered, chancing the wrath of my fellow music junkies.
Her lip jutted out a little further, and she nodded. Her father was watching me out of the corner of one eye, and focusing on the music with the other.
A tear slipped down her cheek, and settled on her dress.
"When butterflies sing, what do you think they sound like?"
The girl wiped her face off on a sleeve, and shook her head. I could see that her father was quickly losing interest in the concert, and focusing on me, but I continued.
"I bet they sound just like this." I said, and her dad grinned. "Close your eyes." I suggested, and closed mine for emphasis. I peeked through my lashes to be sure she had done so, and continued. . . "See, pretend the ladies in that choir are butterflies that have been changed to human form for the night. . . like magic princesses. The colored scarves they are wearing are what is left of their wings."
I draped my blue silk scarf over her shoulders, and led her fingers along the edges so she could feel the material that had become her makeshift wings.
"When they sing high like that. . . imagine them flying right into the sun, or landing on a pretty flower. When they sing low like they are doing now. . . Make believe that they are going home to go to bed, because they have been singing all day long and they are tired."
Her eyes were closed, and she was squinting into an imaginary sun while she concentrated. "But, I can't understand what they are saying!"
"You don't need to. . . I'll tell you what they are singing about."
"They are singing for every sunrise, and every sunset that has ever been. They are singing for fairytale love, and flowers growing everywhere, and all sorts of green growing things. They are singing for happy moments in the shade, and icecream, and playing with friends, and rolling down hills on their sides."
"So that's what they sound like!" she said, a sort of childlike wisdom radiating from her tiny body.
She sat that way for the rest of the evening, concentrating on every detail of every piece of music. It was a solemn moment when the final echoes of the last song ceased their reverberations and there was silence, but it was a joyful moment as well. . .because we could still hear the sound made when butterflies sing.