He had long quit smoking. During the time that he was still churning out smoke clouds like a Wall Street broker in the 40s and 50s, he always felt sorry for the silver paper that came with every pack of cigarette he bought.
Dean folds the paper carefully into silver butterflies. He creates the wings out of the paper folded into triangles. Those triangles are then repeatedly folded until they looked like bellows from an old-timey camera. Dean then twists a strip to create the spiral-looking tail. He always thought that his stubby fingers were a hindrance to him whenever he created those silver butterflies. He then fashions the butterfly’s antennae out of another curled strip of paper.
Ten minutes must have passed since he started, and for all he knew, the cigarette in his ash tray may have already expired. Dean lifts his little creation from his lap, its little creases still damp from the sweat in his hands. The air smelled of dry ash; it reeked of cigarette smoke. He then flips the wings and pulls on the tips to reveal a silvery gleam from the repeated folds on the paper. He smiles every time he finishes a butterfly in his spare time.
“What are those?” asked Mika, amused.
“Those.” She was looking at the silver butterflies that were lying around on top of Dean’s metal cabinet. The cabinet was all Dean had in the world aside from the old beat-up car he always worked on. It contained memories from his father that come in the form of tools with years of patina on them.
“Oh. Just a little thing I do on my free time.”
“Can I have one?”
Mika snatches one butterfly and puts in into the pocket of her jacket. Her hand is as big as the rough imitation of the insect.
For Dean, that butterfly was something intimate. He didn’t show it to anybody else. He only felt comfortable around Mika that he need not care about whether she saw it or not. Secretly, he wanted her to notice it the way he notices her every flutter. She was delicate to him as those silver paper butterflies but he didn’t show it.
Mika remembers the time when Dean got into a fight because of her. She thought it was stupid at first, like, why pick a fight and blame it on her? But she felt a little sorry about what happened when she learned that two guys were talking about her in a bar. They were laughing about how she was an easy “catch.” She saw Dean all bruised up with a cut on his left eyebrow. The blood had just dried and little flecks and crusts were visible from his jean jacket.
He didn’t mention a word about it to Mika. It was some sort of omerta for him. She thought, what kind of a guy goes into a fight because of an overheard conversation and makes little paper butterflies on his free time?