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It's hard to believe I know, but I was once a butterfly, an emperor with beautiful soaring wings. I moved from flower to branch with nary a worry except where I'd find my next juicy leaf.

One day I was flying around as butterflies do. I saw a lovely windowsill and I went to go laze in a sunbeam. I lay there for a while then turned idly to face into the room belonging to the windowsill. Resting on a desk in a corner of the room was the most beautiful butterfly maiden I'd ever seen.

You should have seen the antennae on her and the curve of her fore leg. I wanted us to make beautiful larvae together. I flew over and introduced myself.

"Hello lovely," I said, flashing my most dashing smile. She didn't stir. Suddenly, the door flow open and human stormed into the room. It walked over right over to the desk I was on with my one true love. The human picked her up and placed upright on its face. My love was loving a human! Their kept going even as they left the room. I was left all alone with my broken heart.

As I sobbed into my wing I got to thinking, "How could that beautiful lady butterfly love a human so much?" Maybe she knew something I didn't. I resolved to find a human being of my own to kiss.

The human and the lady butterfly left the room, still in their scandalous embrace. I snuck out after them, barely missing the tail of my wings getting crushed in the slamming door. I followed them through twisting corridors and into a flowery courtyard that smelled of spring. I was intoxicated by the pollen wafting from a bed of tulips. Love must truly have been in the air because the courtyard was filled with people locking faces with humans. There one delicate moth kissed one and there a dragonfly ravished one.

I must admit I blushed. What was it about the humans? They can't even fly! I hid behind a human playing a violin, who by the way was osculating with a hawk and watched the proceedings, desperate for insight.

I had no idea where to even start thinking. Then I saw my dulcet lady of the desk. I decided that the only way to get to the bottom of this was to ask. Interrupting her hand her companion would surely be gauche, but what did it matter? Clearly I was already nothing in her eyes.

"Excuse me! Excuse me!" I shouted as I flew up to her. The human swatted at me. I strafed and dodged pumping my wings to hurry back for another pass at getting her attention.

"Excuse me! Miss! Excuse me! Beautiful woman with the bulging thorax!" My shouts were utterly futile at getting her attention. Meanwhile, a whole crowd had gathered around me. Oe human stepped forward and held out his arm to me. There was a cardinal on his face. I landed on the human's arm and slowly hiked up toward its head.

"Mr. Cardinal!" I shouted. The one near me said nothing, but at that moment a cardinal passed overhead and, hearing my call, swooped down.

"Yes Mr. Butterfly?"

"That's your highness," I said for my people are the emperors of the air. He groaned.

"Yes, your highness?" He responded with dripping sarcasm. He wasn't giving me my proper respect, but I let it slide in the curiosity of the moment. He brought himself closer and I saw then that the cardinal on the human's face looked almost nothing like this new cardinal. Suddenly I understood. In retrospect, the eyeholes probably have been a dead give away.

"So what do you want? Your highness."

"Mr. Cardinal, could you ever love a human?"

"Those sloppy floppy slimy giants? I can't imagine it. I don't even like looking at them!"

"Neither can I," I responded, hardly about to admit I had moments ago been doing just that.

"And yet," I said. "Look around at them around you, a whole gathering devoted to loving imitations of people like us. The mind boggles."

"Indeed it does." He paused. "Your grace. Is that all? That is to say, may I take my leave you who are as the sun to my grain of sand."

"Oh. Err. Yes. That's all. Shoo." He flew away.

Years later, after I turned into a human, which is a story for another day, I learned about masks. I learned that sometimes they're invisible and not to mistake them for love. And I learned to love humans as a human and I learned, most importantly, that everyone: humans, insects, birds, can find beauty in a butterfly.

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