It had two weeks of adult life to look forward to, and it wished to make every minute of it count. As it flew between the bars of the new steel border wall, its tiny heart clutched at the thought of those left behind and those struggling with hope. It flew over the detention centers and wept for the children incarcerated in cages.
It huddled under the broad leaves of palm trees along the coast as rain battered the fronds with machine gun-like noise. It gained what sustenance it could from rotten fruit, carrion, or even animal feces. But the determination remained. It would get to Florida and live out its last days in tropical splendor.
It was a peaceful animal, of the order Lepidoptera, using Mullerian mimicry to imitate a poisonous or distasteful thing that would deter its many predators. It was not aggressive and had no political agenda.
As it flew through Georgia, it was spotted by men toting guns. They fired at it, and cursed it, and told it to go back where it came from. It was a frightening moment for the peaceful Viceroy that did not know the word hate.
It crossed into the Florida peninsula just below Mexico Beach. Winging across the blue-green water aided by an onshore breeze and spent the night in a backyard in Homosassa Springs sleeping under a boat canopy along a canal. It was tiring and weather-worn, and it only had three days left to live.
It thought about those less fortunate, the tall animals that walked on two legs and moved about rapidly in noxious metal boxes. It thought about those sick and dying from a rampant pandemic. It had a home wherever it chose to stop and was happy and thankful about that, then it thought about those who had no home or were about to lose their homes because they lost their jobs.
Three days left. What could it do to relieve the distress of the upright walkers? How could it bring joy into a dark and troubled world?
It settled on a green leaf to take its last sustenance from a delicate yellow flower on its final day. A child exclaimed, “Look, Mommy. Look at the beautiful butterfly. It makes me so happy.”
The Viceroy did not die in vain.