The Pupa

1.
My wife is a damned workaholic.
Of course she had not always been like this. She was a tranquil and well balanced person until about a year ago. She had always been very studious before and then she became very hardworking, but in any case she had always managed to respect the borders between private life and professional life. However since we have received the results of certain tests, everything changed. Those borders have been once and for all crushed and now, my wife lives for her work.

About a year ago we decided to have a child. The problem was that after numerous attempts, Claudia did not get pregnant. At first we both thought that the problem was mine. It was simple: since I was born with one testicle, we innocently thought that our problems were due to my ‘defect’.
In any case we both decided to have check-ups.

I was the first of the two of us to receive a reply.
When my doctor handed me the results of the analysis, he immediately told me, “Your sperm counts are in great shape.”
According to the analysis, my small tadpoles were actually slightly more active than the normal. So it was strange really that Claudia had not yet become pregnant. The doctor also said that it was stupid of us to have thought that I was sterile because I had one testicle instead of two. He explained that one little ‘jewel’ could substitute the other without any problem. In the end he sent me on my way, unexpectedly, with a squalid phrase that I had often heard from the old people in the bars when I was a child,
“It was better if nature made one ball and two pricks, but what can you do….. .”
I left from the doctor’s clinic feeling calm, but worried about Claudia.

My wife is considered one of the top in her field. She is a specialist in Gynecology, Obstetrics and Physiopathology of the human reproduction. She handles all the aspects of diagnostic and therapeutic of a couple’s infertility. She is considered one of the most expert doctors in the techniques of assisted reproduction. So it was my wife who analysed her own ability to reproduce, and it was also her, once she did the analysis, to let me know through her tears that there was not even a remote possibility that she would become pregnant. When she told me this, I tried to say something to comfort her, but what the hell could I say, after all she was the expert in these things.

Since then she has been spending all her time at work.
She is now always in some super laboratory of some huge hospital specialized in fertilization and some other similar stuff.
She works, works and works.
She has thrown herself into work so she would not think about her infertility. She is the one, who has been able to help dozens of women to become fertile. It’s strange how life can face you with certain paradoxes.

I would like to help her, but I don’t know how I can. She doesn’t speak to me anymore. We practically don’t eat together and she often sleeps on the sofa. At home I don’t really see her but more likely a glimpse of her. She is never around and if she is, she is spending her time in the cellar where I don’t have access as the door is always kept under lock and key.
What is she doing down there, it’s a mystery to me.
Some time ago, maybe a couple of months ago, our widowed neighbour who is a smoker and on her seventies, approached me while I was watering the roses. After the usual hypocritical compliments, she said, “Mr. Lorenzi, maybe I am going to be a little bit indiscreet, but I can’t resist from asking you something.”
“ Tell me.” I said.
I thought she wanted to ask the usual inappropriate question that one asks to a couple without children, such as: So when are you having a child? Instead she said, “What are you doing with those strange equipment?”
“What equipment?” I asked. What was she talking about? The woman seemed to be surprised with my reply.
“What do you mean, what equipment? The ones that were delivered the other day to you property, there was your wife…”
“I don’t know anything about it…” I let out.
The woman seemed to be trilled, at the idea that between me and my wife there might be evidently secrets and this would give her something to talk about with the other gossiping neighbours.
“Can you explain to me what you saw?” I asked, not caring about adding more fuel to the fire. She told me that two days before she had seen a van parked in front of our house, from which some strange machines were unloaded. My neighbour pointed out that she had heard my wife say to the man to unload the stuff and carry everything to the cellar.
That evening I tried to ask my wife for some explanation, but all I got in return was her silence.

To be honest when she is at home, she doesn’t spend all her time in the cellar, sometimes I find her on the terrace. I know what she does on the terrace, she draws. She draws butterflies. Butterflies of different sizes and colours. Beautiful butterflies.

2.
Things got worse. Lately my wife has not been going to work, doesn’t draw anymore, and spends all her time in the cellar. I believe that the last time she has stepped out of the house was about three weeks ago. I heard the door bang, so I went to the window, and I saw her running around the garden after her favourite drawing subject with a net: the butterflies. She was laughing, like a child, but it was disturbing because in that smile I caught a glimpse of madness. Then after an hour she came back in and barricaded herself once again in the cellar.

I practically live alone in the house. At least this is the sensation I have. I don’t even bother to close the door when I go to the bathroom, in fact the other day something embarrassing – and strange at the same time – happened. I was in the bathroom, and I was masturbating – as you might imagine to relieve the lack of intimacy with my wife – when she came in. I felt myself invaded with shame, instead she acted as if nothing happened, she came near me and finished masturbating me. Nothing romantic, all very aseptic, and cold. Not even a kiss. If it wasn’t for the fact that she kept me in sexual abstinence for so long, I believe I would have never been able to come. The strange thing was that when I came, she pulled out from her pocket a test tube in which she inserted some of my sperm. Then without saying anything, she left, leaving me there like an idiot.
My wife is fucking mad. I have to get hold of a therapist as soon as possible. I want to explain the situation and hear what he has to say to me. I have to know how I should behave.
I don’t want to lose my wife.

3.
I don’t know what happened, but the door of the cellar is open today. I couldn’t help not going in to browse around.

I go down the steps, and I immediately realise that the cellar was no longer the same as I remember it. It is completely transformed. It didn’t take much to understand that my wife had set up an ultramodern laboratory down here. It is full of ampoules, microscopes, a thousand other things and equipment – the ones that the neighbour had seen – which I didn’t know anything about. It seemed like a Small chemist’s paradise.
On one side there is a small bed , and nearby a small table on which there is some leftovers of a frugal meal. There is also a desk with tens of books on it, I presume scientific. On the wall hangs a blackboard with a thousand chemical formulas on it and other indecipherable stuff for who, like me, has never studied science.
My wife is a damned scholar.
On a table, there is a big glass jar closed with a gauze which had holes in it: inside there is a butterfly. I move close and observe it: it has bright white wings, with only one black mole on the upper part. The body is also white, but of a darker shade. Looking at her so closely make me think of perfection. I remain spellbound by the veins in her wings, with the fine dust that she is covered, her antennas, and of its small body. I would remain watching her, if I wasn’t attracted by the light that come in from the backdoor. In fact the door is open. I start to go out of there when something else catch my attention: on the floor there is a sort of telephone cabin, in miniature form. It should be about one metre by one metre. It has dark glass, but I don’t have a problem to see the interior because the front door is open. There is something inside. It has the shape of a caste, and it is formed from a strange material, which seems like wool, but it isn’t. That thing is slightly smaller than the cabin that hold it and is hanging from the upper part of the cabin thanks to a little string from the same material. It vaguely remind me of those giant hives that one sees in the Yogi bear cartoons. A quartered hive by the same Yogi, however, because there is a big gash right in the middle of that thing. I am about to touch it, but at that very moment I hear some sounds coming from outside. I go out, and for a moment I am blinded by the strong light of the Spring sun. I smell the smell of summer that is approaching. As soon as my eyes gain focus, I see something incredible. I can’t figure out if what I am seeing is a hallucination or if it is reality. A short distance away from me there is a beautiful child with the body of a butterfly. It seems like an angel.
Conscious that I am not under the effect of LSD, I understand that the scene that I have in front of me is real: a child with the body of a butterfly, moving its wings that are attached to her arms. She tried to fly and then fell again. I observe well. The wings are perfectly attached to her little body, and are one piece. From her little head sprouted out two small antennas. Her wings are bright white, with only a black mole on the upper part. She tried a few times to fly off. She fell and fell again. She is clumsy and gentile at the same time. Finally she managed to take flight. She makes a strange shape in the sky, then returns back again. She comes in front of me and remains in flight about two metres from the ground. She smiles at me. I recognised the same dimples that formed on Claudia’s cheeks when she smiled. She also has a red birthmark over her bellybutton, just like mine. Whilst I am smiling back to her, I feel my hand being held. I turn round and there is Claudia with a big smile on her face. So her two dimples have returned. She hugs me kisses me. Then she whispers, “I’m sorry if in all this time…”
I interrupted her saying, “Let it be…”
We both turned towards our daughter. My wife is a fucking genius and my daughter a goddamn butterfly.

THE END

Translation made by: Charmaine De Amicis
ITALIAN VERSION: LA PUPA

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