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The Caretaker

The butterfly looked like a tiny angel basking in the midday sun, and it had landed right there on Katie’s wrist!

But already, she could hear the pounding footsteps of the older boys, and their shadows gobbled up the light.

“Look at the little baby!” Jimmy yelled, leading the pack of hooligans.

“No,” Katie said softly.

“She finally has a friend!” Marcus shouted. “Let’s get it!”

“Yeah, let’s pull its wings off!” another boy agreed.

“No!” This time Katie screamed, and the butterfly flew away, toward the rear of the schoolhouse.

The boys gave chase and disappeared around the corner as the bell rang to end recess.

The afternoon dragged on forever, and all Katie could think about was her beautiful butterfly. The bigger boys were late coming back to class, and she could only imagine the awful things they might have done.

When Miss Getty finally ended her lessons, Katie bolted out the door and around to the back of the schoolhouse.

She nearly ran smack dab into Teddy Kaplan, the old man who took care of the building and grounds. Momma said Kaplan was a sweet soul, but he was wrinkled and scraggly, and that scared Katie.

“Say, did you lose somethin’, little girl?” Teddy asked when he saw her.

Katie was too stunned to speak and just blinked. Teddy smiled and chuckled softly.

“Well,” he said as he walked toward the chimney at the back of the school. “I do reckon I have somethin’ that belongs to you.”

He wiggled loose a brick and cupped his hands over the hole. What could he have hidden in there?

“This does belong to you, don’t it?” Teddy asked.

He opened his hands, and Katie’s beautiful butterfly fluttered out and found its perch on her wrist once again.

Published inFlash Fiction

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