Gustavo was waiting on a sign, a sign from Heaven, when the golden butterfly with bright blue eye-like markings, fluttered aloft, above his head, three times, and then landed on his shoulder. He was in Barcelona at La Boquería, a large, public fresh market, as popular with the locals as it was with tourists. People could get any kind of fresh fruit, vegetable or meat there, including the famous air-dried Iberico jamón, the best (called pata negra) being from the black-footed pigs they fed acorns to and gave massages. The smell of the hams permeated the air. Typically sliced deliciously thin in a special rack with a razor-sharp knife, it would melt in your fingers and on your tongue. Gustavo and his girlfriend, Carmen, found it scrumptious with Manchego cheese. He bought some turron candy for Carmen also, since he was there. Carmen had a craving for it from time to time, and he picked up some fruit-shaped marzipan candy for her also, and some saffron to cook with himself. It is an exotic golden spice used for cooking Paella, a delicious Spanish rice and seafood dish that they both loved. La Boquería was in the Ciudad Vieja (old city) right off Las Ramblas. Some called it the Gothic district.
Gustavo was having a glass of red wine, tempranillo from the Catalan region. A dream had led him here. He had even dreamt of the same colorful gold and blue markings of the butterfly. When she lit off the shoulder of his thin, well-broken-in, brown leather jacket, Gustavo followed. She zig-zagged above the heads of the other patrons and out the front entranceway, where the sign-in Catalan reads in white letters: Mercat, and underneath, St. Josep and La Boquería under that, all on a colorful, Anton Gaudí inspired wrought-iron gate. The butterfly turned left then crossed Las Ramblas. Gustavo did not have to struggle to keep up with her or see her. She was easy to follow, so far.
Some people can see things unseen by others, deep in their mind’s eye, or feel things deep in their bones, and some have dreams with images of such profound depth etched in their subconscious that they cannot forget them. Gustavo was one of those people. Just like our bodies and minds are all different, each of us being a unique soul, so too are our levels of sensory depth and empathy. And the ranges on the spectrum of our perception varies. Some people dream in black and white or a plain grey while others dream in vivid colors and light. Some people remember them and some do not.
The golden butterfly with the bright blue eye-like markings led Gustavo down this alleyway, then that one, then another, then yet another, getting him lost in the maze of the city, but he persisted in his quest as he had felt the powerful significance in his dream of whatever it was he was being called to do and honored by the fact that it was he who was being called to do it. “I am following you, mariposa,” Gustavo whispered in the wind, “as I was led to you by my dream.”
In a narrow lot in between two apartment buildings the butterfly stopped, landing on the backend of an old brown dumpster sitting tilted in the sand and sparse grass. Gustavo halted too, wiping the sweat from his forehead and tossing his long, oily, black hair back and out of his face. You could see the washed clothes hanging out of the apartment windows to dry above, and every now and then spot a red and yellow striped Catalan flag flying in the wind or a dark blue soccer jersey with the number 10 on it. There were a lot of those, as Barcelona was Leo Messi’s team and he wore 10. In Barcelona, he is considered the best footballer in the world.
Gustavo was twenty-seven years old and an excellent flamenco guitarist, an art he learned from his father, who learned it from his padre as well, and back it went as a long family tradition. He grew up in Sevilla, where his family was from, but sought fame and success in Barcelona, where opportunities were easier to find. He dreamed of being a famous rock guitarist but he made enough to live well with the flamenco shows he did. Gustavo’s live-in girlfriend was Carmen, a thirty-year-old, long dark-haired woman, though short in stature, with soft brown eyes and a smile for everyone, who managed her own small pottery shop close to La Barceloneta beach. They did well together. They were both artists and thought a lot alike. Creative types. They had discussed marriage and wanted to be together but through inertia, they had not taken the necessary steps yet to make it happen. And they loved children and both of them wanted a child but, though they had given up birth control, it had not happened for them yet.
At the dumpster that the golden, bright blue eye-like marked butterfly led Gustavo to, he did not wait long before he heard the muffled cries of something incredibly tiny sounding, in distress. He searched around, and underneath the rusty foul-smelling behemoth, he spied the edge of a soiled pink blanket. He gently tugged the rag, dragging out the bundle of a precious newborn baby girl, still covered in the blood of birth and crying for nourishment from a mother, nowhere to be seen. There was a note pinned to the blanket that read in the Catalan language of Barcelona: “This child is called Mariposa. I could not care for her. Please take care of her and give her a good life. I pray for you G.” And there it ended.
When Gustavo read the “G,” the hair on his arms stood on end and he shivered with a single, deep, spine-tingling chill from his head to his toes and throughout his core. The gold and blue butterfly fluttered three circles or so around them, then left. Gustavo, cradling the package of the little beautiful baby, Mariposa, in his arms, walked to the next main road and flagged a taxi.
“La Barceloneta, por favor, ¡pronto!”
Carmen nearly fainted when Gustavo showed her what he had found, told her the story of the dream and about the golden butterfly with bright blue eye-like markings that he dreamt about and then saw and followed from La Boquería, and had her read the letter pinned to her pink blanket about Mariposa’s name and with the “G” at the end of it. She locked the shop door and gently cleaned the baby with clean water and rags that she had around her studio for cleaning her hands while working with clay. As an artisan, she created beautiful and colorful, notably Spanish, ceramic pieces that she’d later paint, fire in the kiln, then put on sale.
“Oh my, Gustavo. You saved this poor child. The Lord has blessed us!” Carmen exclaimed.
“We have to take care of her. Let me go and get her some food and clothes. I will return as quickly as I can.”
Carmen ran to the corner market in the Barceloneta neighborhood where she knew young mothers in the local apartment buildings bought urgent supplies for their babies, when needed. She knew more than a few of them as she had babysat from time to time for some of the ladies there. Carmen returned in a flash.
“I have formula for the baby, Gustavo. Here. Feed her,” Carmen uttered as she caught her breath from her store run. As she was being fed, little Mariposa’s whimpering stopped and she smiled. She was comfortably ensconced in Gustavo’s comforting arms as they took turns feeding her the bottle. Her bright blue eyes sparkled as she suckled the nipple on the bottle Carmen picked up. Mariposa stretched and opened and closed her tiny fingers and kicked her tiny little pink feet with glee. Gustavo and Carmen hugged each other tight as they stared at the resting baby.
After reporting all this to the local policía and going through the necessary investigations and bureaucracy such a find would entail, Gustavo and Carmen adopted the little baby Mariposa and fell in love with her. Never before had they felt so much love, for the baby, and for each other. She was truly a gift from Heaven. Gustavo was meant to be a father, as he was a good one. They decided to get married then, right away – to be a family.
And in the spring each year, when Gustavo opened the window for the breeze and fresh air, he would invariably see a golden butterfly with bright blue eye-like markings hovering in and around Mariposa’s bedroom, as if it were checking in on her. The little girl grew up a great artist, painting butterflies, birds, dragons, and other such flying or colorfully-designed things. She always loved butterflies best though. They were some of God’s loveliest creatures, light and colorful, with heavenly markings, flittering about freely. They were known, from time to time, for delivering little messages to someone or another, with a heart like Gustavo had, from some Angel in Heaven.
©2020 John Goodie All rights reserved.
John Goodie is a recovering programmer/analyst who found an affinity for words and began writing poems and short stories, returning to college for an English Degree and Tesol certificate to teach English to refugees and immigrants of the USA and the children and people of Spain. Now he seeks his master’s degree in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literature.