A Sister to Butterflies, Chapter One

This is not the first time you've heard this. Nor, I hope, will it be the last.

What's amusing — or shameful, depending on how you come to see it — is that just as I thought I'd sufficiently untangled my mind to tell my tale, I still find myself uncertain where best to begin. Part of me wishes not to have to begin at all, since you're far too tiny to understand what I'm saying anyhow. The rest of me knows this is really much more for my own benefit than yours — for the time being, anyhow — and that as far as penance goes what I've apportioned myself can hardly be considered severe. So, for both our sakes, I'll muddle through as best I can. Again.

The first thing I should explain if what I have to tell you is ever to make any sense is that, contrary to a growing consensus, there are indeed other worlds than this. A great many people take a great deal of comfort from believing that what can be reconciled with their eyes and ears constitutes the summation of existence. I dearly hope you believe me when I say that creation is much too grand and complex a thing to contain but a single realm with a single way of being.

Some of these other worlds are far removed from here. Others press right up against this particular when and where but lie hidden; perhaps deep in the shadow of a high hill, or in the grooves of an oddly bent eddy in a brook, or even under your bed but only at a certain time of day. A drifting speck of dust flaring before a window in the afternoon sun just might be the birth, life and death of an entire civilization.

How can I state such things so unequivocally?

Because, you see, one of these other worlds is mine.

As much as it saddens me to think about my home, knowing that I no longer remember it correctly regardless how hard I may try is much worse. The distance between myself and what I once held most dear — the tall kaleidoscopic grasses of the countryside; the apricot scent of my father's pipe — has grown so great in so many ways that it's become all but nonsensical. It seems I've held this form for so long now that I cannot help picturing things in my mind as your kind does. There are colors there that simply do not exist anywhere else; hues so vibrant and shades so subtle no mortal could ever appreciate them, and thus are now beyond me even in my imagination.

Ah, well. I digress. Besides, my tale begins not so much with my world itself as it does with what lies at its edge, with what separates it from yours:

A shimmering veil of mist.