When I was a kid, I had the same dream over and over. I often dreamed about butterflies. My mom used to say it was because I was to spread my wings and fly, but the old lady down the road said it was something more. She was a spooky old lady who the community referred to as ‘Crazy Margaret’, and we were told that she believed in witchcraft and that she worshiped the devil. Certainly we didn’t go there much.
Somehow she got wind of my dream story. I am not sure who told her. I was playing with my friends when she came out of the house yelling. “Heed my warnings, little man, a dream about butterflies means that the end is near for someone close to you!” she said, scaring the hell out of me and my friend. We both ran home crying.
When I got home, I told mom what she said. Dad was going to pay her a visit. “Someone will die if she scares my kid again, but she won’t be seeing butterflies, that’s for sure!” he said, angrily. Of course mom wouldn’t let hot headed Dad visit the old woman. “Leave the old hag alone, God knows what harm she will bring us. How did she know about your dreams anyway?” she asked. I replied that I had no idea, the only person I told was Ricky. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that since the ‘Crazy Lady’ was Ricky’s grandmother, his loose lips had a hand in this situation.
When I got down and thought about it, she may have been on to something. Whenever I had those dreams, someone in the community either died or had gotten sick. It was always one of the community elders. I hadn’t really made the connection, but at nine years of age, I wasn’t supposed to. Now it scared me. Was I a witch too? Would I have to live in a run down old shack and have my neighbors afraid to talk to me? I sure hoped not!
For the first little while, I was afraid to go to sleep, in fear that I would have a butterfly dream, but after almost holding my eyes open for hours, eventually sleep took over and I drifted off. I remember late one night I couldn’t sleep so I eavesdropped at my parent’s conversation in the next room. We were poor and our home had very thin walls, and if you listened, you could hear everything mom and dad talked about. They were talking about Old Man Stanley, and how his heart was beginning to give him trouble. Dad said that he didn’t figure the old guy had many days left. I remember falling asleep soon afterwards.
That night I sprung from my bed in sheer terror. I had another dream, this time about some old guy who lived alone, and who everyone in the community respected. I only met him once, and didn’t know him very well. In my dream he was alone in a big field, cussing at the butterflies that crowed his face, not allowing him to breathe. This was a very scary dream, and when I woke, I blamed myself for anything that might happen to him. Nothing did.
All that day I tried to figure out what had happened when I realized it. The only nights that I had the butterfly dreams were the ones where I couldn’t sleep very well and I eavesdropped on my parent’s conversations. Since many of the residents of the community were very old, of course some of them died. I guess when I heard that someone was sick and dying, I thought a lot about it when I went to sleep, and somehow butterflies and sick people got mixed up in my head and I ended up dreaming about it. At least I think that was what was going on. Either way, I never eavesdropped on mom and dad again, and I never had a butterfly dream again either.
I often wonder what butterflies dream about, if they dream at all. Do they dream of people and those people mysteriously die? Who knows?