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There was a time in my life when beauty meant something special to me. I guess that was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. It was just several weeks or maybe a month, before the orphanage turned me into an old man.

I got up every morning at the orphanage, made my bed just like the little soldier I had become, got into one of the two straight lines and march to breakfast. I did this with the other 20 or 30 boys who also lived in my dormitory.

One Saturday morning after breakfast, I returned to the dormitory and saw the house parent chasing the beautiful monarch butterflies. They lived by the hundreds in the azalea bushes strewn around the orphanage. I watched carefully as he caught these beautiful creatures. Then he took them each from the net, stuck straight pins through their head and wings, and pinned them onto a heavy cardboard sheet. How cruel it was to kill something of such beauty.

I walked many times out into the bushes all by myself, just so the butterflies could land on my head, face and hands, and I could look at them up close. The telephone rang and the house parent laid the large cardboard paper down on the back cement step. When he went inside to answer the phone, I walked up to the cardboard and looked at the one butterfly that he had just pinned to the large paper. It was still moving about, so I reached down and touched it on the wing, causing one of the pins to fall out. It began flying around in a circle trying to get away, but it was still pinned by the one wing with the other straight pin. Finally, its little wing broke off and the butterfly fell to the ground quivering. I picked up the torn wing and the butterfly, and I spat on its wing trying to get it to stick back on, so it could fly away. I wanted it to be free before the house parent came back. However, its wing would not stay on.

The next thing I knew, the house parent came walking back out the back door by the garbage room and started yelling at me. I told him that I did not do anything, but he did not believe me. He picked up the cardboard paper and started beating me on the top of the head. There were all kinds of butterfly pieces going everywhere and then he threw the cardboard down on the ground. I was then ordered to pick it up and put it in the garbage can in the back room of the dormitory. Then he just left.

I sat there in the dirt by a big, old tree for the longest time trying to fit all the butterfly pieces back together, so I could bury them whole. But it was too hard to do. So I prayed for them and then put them in an old, torn up shoebox. I buried them in the bottom of the fort that I had built in the ground out by the large bamboos and near the blackberry bushes.

Every year, when the monarch butterflies returned to the orphanage and tried to land on me, I always tried to shoo them away. They did not know that the orphanage was a bad place to live and a very bad place to die.

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