On the first of December it rained and Elizabeth, an insomniac, who had gone without sleep for several days hallucinated that she had turned into a swarm of butterflies.
She was standing by her bedroom window looking down at the spot in the garden where a butterfly shrub had bloomed in the summer. At first she had revelled in the brilliant spectacle of blues, oranges, reds and deep shades of green. But after a while, without knowing why, the plant had become offensive to her. She thought of uprooting it but the memory of it’s unpleasant scent and the fits of nausea this had produced in her in the beginning when she had planted it made her falter. As the days went by Elizabeth did not gather the courage to kill the plant, instead, she decided to wait for it to come to the natural end of its cycle.
As if sensing its reprieve the fiery shrub seem to swell and spill like an overripe fruit, amassing colonies of butterflies each day. The sight of them gathered into clusters made something squeals inside her. The shrub seemed to pulsate under the weight of its putrid load and grow carnivorous and menacing. After that she no longer took pleasure in her garden and left it to its own devices.
Autumn arrived and the plant shrivelled and died. Elizabeth decided it was time to remove every trace of it. As she set about her work the noxious smell she so dreaded rose from the soil and assailed her. This was too much for her battered senses. She dropped the tool she was holding, ran into the house and climbed into her bed. For days she lay still as a corpse, her breathing shallow, her body like a mass of dough clinging to her bones, her mind caught in a vortex of agonised memories that sent painful jolts thorough her. Then suddenly she erupted, incandescent into the grey light