I was brought to life protected by a canopy of dense rainforest
somewhere deep in the Amazon jungles of Brazil while my mother chased a
dream. It was the part of the rainforest that holds the most secrets and
only a few select shamans traveling by the Yekuana hallucinogenic have
been rumored to see the truth. My mother was convinced the truth had
come to visit her on many occasions and they had fallen in love. But to
me it was just a story and this was my life.
It was a perfect 80-degrees with 90 percent humidity. Well perfect, if
you like the kind of heat that sticks to you like a second layer of
skin. I could smell the precipitation and taste the fresh water on my
lips. It was high rain season but it wasn’t raining. The earth
touched me comfortingly and the butterflies came in and out of view as
they ceased to blend with the trees. The wilderness whispered in my ears
as the butterfly wings brushed against me. There were hundreds of wings
fluttering around me in all shapes and sizes. The different hues
blending together created a kaleidoscope of color as if the forest was
laughing and happy.
My mother was near. In what capacity I couldn't be sure but I always
knew when she was close. Her scent was a combination of jasmine and
lily. Her long brown hair cascaded around her like early morning mist
and her omniscient jade colored eyes sparkled brighter than stars in the
sky. She was as beautiful as a Pixie Angel and as protective as a
Lioness. She loved me as much as she loved the forest and I could hear
her magical voice singing in Portuguese as I drifted off to sleep.
Butterflies don’t fly when it’s raining, busy listening for bending
perplexities. Too much water can drown you, while you’re unraveling
the complexities. Butterflies don’t fly when it’s raining, they
weren’t granted the immortality. So you make the most of the changes,
as you conform to its conditionality. Butterflies don’t fly when
it’s raining, but the solace gives you serenity. You brace for what is
coming, and hope you don’t lose your identity. Butterflies don’t fly
when it’s raining, because sometimes you just need to rest.
It was always the same dream. My senses were incredibly heightened. I
could feel the night coming as I ran through the forest moving at a
speed my mind couldn’t comprehend. The kaleidoscope of butterfly wings
was always there, shadowing me from whatever lurked ahead. The vivacious
sounds of the forest were musical. It was like a song, familiar, with a
feeling of home. Nature was living out its purpose all around me. The
ground shook as Brazil nuts fell from two hundred feet high and I had to
swerve out of the way. My feet caressed the forest floor as I sped
through the brush going everywhere and nowhere. I was by myself but I
wasn’t alone. I could sense someone just beyond my reach. It was as if
I were tracking him or he me. I couldn't quite tell. A never-ending
chase that felt exhilarating and natural. His smell was all over me,
musky and intoxicating. Just as I was about to reach him and his eyes
met mine in the darkness it would always wake me up.
Really annoying honking followed by profanities yelled by my driver,
brought me quickly out of my daydreaming as the car pulled out of
traffic and into Los Angeles International Airport. In answer to my look
of exasperation his very heavy Brazilian accent filled the car. “Sorry
Natália,but people just don't know how to drive here. It’s so
infuriating.” To which I replied for the umpteenth time, “It’s OK
Adler just don’t kill anyone or us for that matter. We’re not in a
rush. I have time. I won’t miss my flight.” “You never do.” He
said smiling at me through the rear view mirror, “You never do”.
As we pulled up to the curb Adler cocked his head and flashed that
handsome crooked smile at me. “Are you sure you don’t want me to
come with you? You know I don’t mind the traveling and you know your
mother always prefers for me to stay close to you.” He said.
“Honestly, I’ll be fine”, I said half to him and half to myself as
he jumped out to grab my luggage and I let myself out of the back seat.
Looking up at the terminal and grabbing my luggage, I gave Adler a quick
hug, and put the dream I was reminiscing about back in a drawer in my
memory bank while letting the recollection of my mother’s story fade
from my consciousness. Her butterfly song always gave me comfort when I
was uncomfortable which alerted me to the fact that I was feeling
anxious. As I adjusted my dress and grabbed the handle of my carry-on I
made a promise to myself to stay alert to any red flags.
The desert on the other hand doesn’t make any promises and an hour
later leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; I was walking
through the kind of heat that makes you so restless you know you won’t
sleep. Tossing and turning your dreams become a Déjà vu and you can
taste remnants of it on your tongue.
The scorching dry heat makes no qualms of reminding you that your
memories aren’t always what they seem and time takes it’s toll. You
can’t hold on to either one because just when you think you have a
grasp on it, it slips through your fingers like a crumbled piece of pie.
Unredeemable and non-transferable it always catches up to you and
hopefully you spent it wisely. And even though you can’t go back in
time, you will always have the random recollections of another time in
another place that lead you here.
One day not so long ago there was another city with a different kind of
After thirty years of self-preservation standing in the middle of a dark
street somewhere in New Orleans my life would take an interesting turn.
Fate would come out of nowhere and introduce me to risk, adventure and
synchronicity all on a first name basis.
Trying to catch my breath wasn’t easy. It would take some time to
acclimate. I loved to visit here but would never live here. The
forbidden-city is where the lost came to stay missing. Even the weather
was cruel if you got in its way. It was so humid you could almost touch
it. It felt wet and sexy on my skin and the energy of the night dared me
to take chances. The humidity made me thirsty with its whispers of sweet
nothings in my ear. It reminded me of a rainforest I wasn’t positively
sure I ever knew. It teased me with the smell of rain and the musky
scent of a stranger just beyond my reach.
With the scent came an immediate stirring in my body I didn’t
recognize. A vision flashed before my eyes of a panther so black it was
blue with the shiniest coat and the greenest eyes. I stumbled and leaned
into a mailbox to steady me. “What the heck was that?” I mumbled to
myself shaking my head. Thinking back to the last bar I was in I
wondered if maybe someone put something in my drink. Looking around I
made sure I wasn’t being followed.
Excerpted from "The Butterfly Papers Vol. 1 [Kindle Edition]" by Pepper Carlson. Copyright © 2013 by Pepper Carlson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.