"And then my soul saw you and it kind of went, ‘Oh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you."
Xanthe paced back and forth in front of the entrance of Melbourne Zoo, watching waves of people enter and exist as she waited for Yashvi to arrive. She wanted the day to be perfect and spent close to a week preparing for it- what she was going to say, what they were going to do, what she was going to wear and what her hair was going to look like to the point where she'd gone from store to store, trying on multiple outfits to find the right one. The one that would exhibit a "wow" response and she finally found it. It was a white, sleeveless dress that reached just above her knees with a think, dark blue belt around the waist and was covered in blue butterflies of various shades, sizes and species. Combined with her white runners, for walking long distances and her hair done up in a ponytail, with several strands hanging down. They were originally going to leave Ramsay Street together and go to lunch before heading to the Zoo. Making a full day of it but the plan had suddenly changed when Yashvi got a call, early that morning and rushed over to tell her the plan had been put on hold and she was going to have to meet her at the Zoo.
She been waiting for hours, arriving early so she would be there to meet Yashvi when she got there and she thought her nerves would be getting the better of her by now. That she’d have butterflies in her stomach and panicking that Yashvi wasn’t going to turn up but instead, she was completely calm. She was relaxed and comfortable, happy and safe, the way Yashvi always made her feel, even if it was just thinking about her. It was a feeling that made her smile and was what she felt the day everything changed – when she looked at Yashvi and saw someone who had become more than a friend. Someone she wanted to be with, who she liked being around and who made her day just a little bit brighter by being in in. It was a lovely feeling, freeing in a way and one she hadn’t experienced in a long time.
She took a deep breath and turned around, just as she spotted Yashvi walking towards her in the distance and as she stood there watching her, she smiled as Steph’s words made their way into her head.
“Just follow your heart.”
Those words had become a mantra – calming her down, making her feel at peace and happy and it helped knowing someone could understand, that they could help her make sense of what she was feeling. Reminding her that she didn’t need to have all the answers. That she didn’t need to understand everything about herself and what she was going through in order to be happy and that she could still be with the person who made her smile again, no matter what their gender was. There was plenty of time to figure out her sexuality and she shouldn’t stop herself from being happy or being with someone who made her happy because of that. Yashvi did that.
She continued watching Yashvi as she got closer and closer to her, unable to take her eyes off of her. She looked so beautiful and stood out, even as the waves of people surrounded her, almost drowning her out. She was wearing a white ying yang singlet with a thin black, fish net jumper on top of it coupled with her black broken up jeans and her hair was braided into two subtle half pigtails, which she noticed she Yashvi turned to look behind her with a black choker to set it off.
“Hey.” Yashvi called out, smiling as she approached Xanthe.
“I’m sorry I’m late. I couldn’t get away.”
“No, no that’s… it’s fine. You’re here now.” Xanthe smiled softly as Yashvi tilted her head to the side, looking at her.
“Oh, wow. You look amazing.”
“Ready to go in?” Yashvi asked, pointing to the entrance.
“Yes.” Xanthe smiled, as she pulled out her ticket and they both walked towards the entrance.
They slowly made their way through the entrance and into the Zoo. Passing Otters, Tigers along with a swam of people and various facilities as they made their way towards the Butterfly House. Walking inside, side by side and gently brushing their arms against one another as they looked at each other, smiling and then looking ahead. Passing through the secondary doors to continue into the House, looking at the various plants and trees, both on the ground and overhanging and they slowly made their way to the centre as Yashvi stopped, looking up and smiling as her eyes widened.
“Oh, wow.” Yashvi whispered to herself. “It’s so beautiful.”
“It is.” Xanthe said gently as she watched her, smiling.
Yashvi’s face softened as she looked down. “You don’t really see them anymore though, do you?”
“Butterflies. It’s like they all just… disappeared.” Yashvi said sadly.
“Yeah… It’s only a matter of time I guess before this…” Xanthe gestured widely, looking around. “it’ll be the only place you can see them. But… it will make it all the more special when you do.” Xanthe said softly, smiling.
“I suppose it does.” Yashvi said softly before taking a deep breath. “So… which ones are your favourite? The blue ones, by any chance?” Tilting her head.
Xanthe looked up, confused as Yashvi pointed to her dress and they both started to laugh gently as Xanthe shook her head.
“Kind of a giveaway, isn’t it?”
“Just a little bit.” Yashvi whispered, as she started to approach Xanthe, but stopped when her phone started to ring. “Sorry.” She took her phone out and looked at it, breathing a sigh of annoyance. “Oh, it’s my dad. I should take this.”
Xanthe shook her head and waved her hand at Yashvi, indicating at her not to worry as she placed the phone next to her ear and started to walk away.
“Hey dad, what’s up?”
Yashvi asked as she turned back to look at Xanthe, watching her as she looked around the House and smiling as multiple butterflies landed on her – focusing on her to the point where she missed the majority of what her father said to her except for the last part.
“…and it’s a disaster. You’ve gotta come home now, Vi.”
“What?” Yashvi called out, annoyed. “I can’t come home.”
“Because… I’m on a date.”
Shane’s eyes widened. “Oh…”
“Yeah, oh.” Yashvi said unimpressed as she rolled her eyes.
“Who is it?”
“Do I know her?” Shane smiled, asking happily.
“Goodbye.” Yashvi hung up the phone, placing it in her pocket as she slowly walked towards Xanthe.
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s fine. Is everything alright?” Xanthe asked concerned.
“Nothing that can’t wait.”
Yashvi smiled as she looked at Xanthe, who nodded before stretching out her arm to look at the butterflies that had landed on her and her eyes becoming more and more alive the longer, she watched them.
“What is it about butterflies that you love so much?” Yashvi asked as Xanthe looked at her, smiling before turning back to the butterflies.
“The thing about butterflies is that… they basically start life as a caterpillar and then… well, they can either die or they can be reborn and if they are – they become a beautiful butterfly.” Xanthe smiled peacefully, as she continued talking softly. “I love that because it’s a fresh start – a new beginning to life. I mean, it takes a while but… if that’s who you’re supposed to be, you’ll get there eventually and when you do… it’s like you’ve… you’ve finally woken up to who you’ve always been. Who you were meant to be all along but you just needed… a push to get there, I suppose?”
Yashvi said softly. “I’ve never heard you like this before.”
“Oh.” Xanthe whispered concerned.
“No, it’s nice.” Yashvi said reassuringly as she smiled. “Seeing you this happy and being here… you with when you’re like this.”
“Well, there was a time when I…” Xanthe said sadly. “I never thought I would or could ever feel this way again to be honest but this place, it’s always kind of been my safe space.” Xanthe smiled. “My happy place – it was the one thing that, that is still mine. I wanted to come back here for months and… being here, with you and watching all of this… there’s just so much love and happiness and joy here. It’s so freeing. It’s… it’s heaven.”
Xanthe said softly, her eyes widening with happiness as her looked up at the butterflies flying around her head and smiled before turning to look at Yashvi in the face and gently grabbed hold of her hand, catching Yashvi’s attention.
“That’s what I feel when I’m with you. You’re my butterfly.”
Yashvi’s eyes softened as she looked at Xanthe, smiling as she took a step forward and gently lent in, kissing Xanthe as butterflies flew around them.