Miranda laughed, delighted with the butterflies. She’d never seen so many. The branches of the tree undulated in iridescent blue and violet. She waved her little hand near the lowest branch and a dozen butterflies sprang up, circling her head. She raised her arms and spun around slowly, dancing with them in her pink cotton dress. She breathed the fragrant air, tasting of pollens and earth and grass and nectar. This is what happiness looks like, smells like, tastes like.
A perfect moment. Clarity. Pure joy.
She imprinted the memory—the scent, the rustling sound of the leaves, the sun on her hair and the gentle breeze. A flood of love filled her soul. She bathed in it, in that moment, twirling with butterflies.
They flew back to the tree. It was time to go. But she would carry the memory with her, until the end, through the darkest of times.
A man in black read from his bible, and Miranda looked down at her chained hands and feet, the IV in her arm, the doctor with a sad duty to the law, her orange garment. She closed her eyes and imagined a pink cotton dress and whispered, “I’m ready.” She rested her head back against the pillow, and butterflies took her home.