Book cover of “A Wish Upon the Holy Butterflies“ by K. Contiello

A Wish Upon the Holy Butterflies

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Completed
  • Language: English
  • Author: K. Contiello
The butterflies of life and death — that’s what he liked to call them. Yves Mallari is an overworked nurse who has the ability to see the lifespan of other people in a form of luminous butterflies that turn black once someone dies. And there is only one person who knows about his unusual gift — his best friend Timothy. At one point, Yves makes a... 

Chapter 1

“Okay, stop CPR,” the doctor said and looked at the time. “Time of death: 7:13.”

Yves took a deep breath, his grip on the manual resuscitator tightening. The flutter of a white butterfly on top of the patient’s head propelled him to stop the other nurse from turning off the cardiac monitor.

“Is there a problem, Yves?”

Yves opened his mouth to speak, but a last glance at the patient’s face prevented the actual words from leaving him. It was gone, so he shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Alright, everyone.” The doctor sighed. “It’s been a tiring day, but can we please take a moment to pause so we can honor Mr. Sandoval? He has stayed with us for the past seven weeks, and we’ve done our best, but it looks like his time has come.”

A series of agreements chorused across the room at the doctor’s call for a medical pause. After what sounded like a well-rehearsed speech that had been repeated over and over to honor the patient and the medical team’s effort to save his life, a heavy silence reigned over them for almost a minute.

It was just another day at Serpentine Medical Center, but to him, the stench of death clung to him even after some of them left, leaving only the two nurses in charge to carry out the last office. Yves stopped at the door as a black butterfly fluttered past him and phased through the person walking in front of him.

The butterflies of life and death — that was what he liked to call them.

Well, they’re not truly butterflies, but it was the closest resemblance he could think of, and he had to define them somehow. Every person had them, their numbers varying for each, depending on how long they’d live. But people were unaware of their existence; nobody could see those white and black butterfly-like apparitions aside from him.

Yves could see them for as long as he could remember, especially when he was under a lot of stress, but they would turn almost transparent if he willed not to see them or when he was taking a prescribed d***. It could be overwhelming sometimes, but they never affected him directly, so it was manageable to live with. Even so, the fact that they existed anywhere within his peripherals made him feel slightly bothered.

Who knew what others might think if he told them he could see their lifespan in the form of luminous butterflies? People might find him weird.

Just like the random guy that moved past him with three butterflies fluttering above his head. If Yves reminded him to be careful because he only had approximately three years to live, it wouldn’t end well. He tried that before, and he just got slugged in the face, so he kept this secret mostly to himself.

Yves continued his trek through the hospital’s empty hallway, his footsteps bouncing against the ivory walls. Now that he was out of the patient’s room, the disappointment weighed on him like boulders on his shoulders, which made every step feel heavier than the last. They tried their best, but they failed to save a life today.

Rounding a corner, Yves released a tired sigh and collapsed on a plastic bench. Seriously, he could use a break right now, like a long vacation in a faraway place. He missed having the time to go hiking and mountain climbing. These days, his only way to reconnect with nature was to take a walk in a nearby park, but even that was starting to feel like a chore.

His two years of employment at Serpentine Medical Center may seem short compared to the tenured nurses in the hospital, but the continuous cycle of witnessing death on a regular basis was already draining the life out of him. Not to mention the regular overtime and extra amount of workload he had to endure because they were understaffed. The thought of resignation crossed his mind for a moment, but when he looked up and stared at one of the private rooms that he frequently handled, he dismissed the idea with a shake of his head.

It was not just any patient. It was their hospital director’s son, who had been in a deep coma longer than his employment at Serpentine Medical Center. The boy suffered a brain injury after a car accident three years ago, which also cost his mother’s life, leaving the father crushed and miserable.

Yves found it ironic, really. The father had wealth and status in the medical field, but even that wasn’t enough to pull a miracle. It just proved that these were worth nothing in the face of misfortune. Yes, they had the boy on life support, but that was the extent of what they could do: keeping him alive through medical machines.

For now, at least.

A hand landed on his shoulder, making him jump. “What’s up, Yveybs?”

Yves scrunched his nose at the weird nickname and at the pungent odor of formalin. It was subtle, but his nose still picked up the solution’s scent, so he shrugged the hand away. “Can you please stop calling me that, Tim?”

“Stop what, Yveybs?”

“Ugh! What are you even doing here?”

“I’m here to pick up a patient. The one who just passed away.”

“Oh.”

Unlike him, who devoted his time to patients in the long-term acute care unit and making sure they lived to recover, Tim, short for Timothy, worked in the hospital mortuary, where they handled the corpses of patients who unfortunately didn’t make it. He practically lived with the dead black butterfly apparitions that surrounded him sometimes. It was creepy.

Timothy clamped his hand on Yves’ shoulder again. “More importantly, I’m here to check on you. How are you feeling?”

Yves sighed. This time, he leaned to the comfort of his friend’s touch. “I feel like crap, but I’ll live.”

“Still not used to it, huh?”

He would never get used to it. Not when he lived with a curse that allowed him to predict people’s lifespans. If only there was a way to get rid of it permanently. Well, according to his grandmother, there was a way, but it was ridiculous that it should be considered a heresy.

“By the way, Alex asks if you’re going to her sister’s wedding,” Timothy said, diverting the topic to something he was interested in. “It’s next month. Give her an answer already. She’s been waiting.”

“I don’t know, Tim. I haven’t talked to Miss Rose yet. How about you?”

Timothy only shrugged with disinterest. “I told her I’ll try. But you know I don’t do weddings. I’m tired of getting questions from my relatives about when I’ll have mine.”

“They’re just curious because people our age are already settling down.”

“People their age are dying too, but did I ever ask when is their turn?”

Yves pulled the shoulder-length hair Timothy kept in a man-bun, earning him a yelp. “Rude.”

“It’s just annoying, okay?” Timothy rearranged his hair.

“Whatever.” Yves pushed himself up and dusted his maroon scrubs. “Let’s get going. We still have work to do.”

“Right.” Timothy slapped both hands on his knees and stood as well. “Let’s go before the dead come back to life.”

“Will you ever stop being creepy?”

“Not until you get used to it, Yveybs.”

“Ugh!”

They walked back to the deceased patient’s room, shoulder to shoulder. As annoying as Timothy can be, the warmth of Timothy’s grin eased Yves’ mood a little.

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