The Butterfly Dream

An Emperor dreamt he was a butterfly. Flitting and fluttering around, doing as he pleased, he was happy with his life. He didn’t know he was an Emperor. Then he woke up to find that he was the Emperor. But was he an Emperor who had dreamt he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was an Emperor?—Chinese Folktale

As my finger pulled the trigger and death claimed my body, I woke up. I remembered that it had all been a dream, and that reality was an eternity spent drifting in an endless fog. Life was a dream, or in my case, a nightmare. Heaven is my reality and there is no hell. No, hell is a personal thing, when you know you had a chance for happiness and you squandered it. Hell is waking up to find it was all a dream. The nightmare I’d called life was preferable to the truth- that it was all a lie.

I’d never really been born. No one is. Instead, on occasion we fall asleep, giving us the chance to dream of an existence that is meaningful.

If only I had remembered.

Perhaps those who had lived and loved as intended woke to cherish those days. As they float in this fog around me, unseen, perhaps they are happy. They would have no regrets. For me, reality is unbearable. I had the chance to do something wonderful, and I squandered it.

There is no hell, but regrets forge a place not unlike hell. The nightmare I had called life was preferable to this. I would go back in a heartbeat. But I can’t. Instead I will spend eternity going over every wrong move I’d made, every bad decision, and pray for a way to go back and do it over.

If only I had been born a butterfly.


April Grey lives in NYC with her husband and son She has been published in in Amalgamae Magazine, Walking Bones Magazine, Everyday Fiction, Chaos Theory: Tales Askew, Brilliant, and Northern Haunts. Her recent sales have been to Terrible Beauty, Fearful Symmetry and Flash Me Magazine.

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