‘… with a look of great satisfaction on her face, she withdrew her hand and twisted around to face the other way. A butterfly came fluttering along and landed on the shoulder of her blue work shirt. It was a small, white butterfly with a few crimson spots on it’s wings. The butterfly seemed to know no fear as it went to sleep on her shoulder.
“I’m sure you’ve never seen this kind of butterfly,” the dowager said, glancing toward her own shoulder. Her voice betrayed a touch of pride. “Even down in Okinawa, you’d have trouble finding one of these. It gets it’s nourishment from only one type of flower— a special flower that only grows in the mountains of Okinawa. You have to bring the flower here and grow it first if you want to keep this butterfly in Tokyo. It’s a lot of trouble. Not to mention the expense.”
“It seems to be very comfortable with you.”
“This little person thinks of me as a friend.”
“Is it possible to become friends with a butterfly?”
“It is if you first become a part of nature. You suppress your presence as a human being, stay very still, and convince yourself that you are a tree or grass or a flower. It takes time, but once the butterfly lets it’s guard down, you can become friends quite naturally.”
“Do you give them names?” Aomame asked, curious. “Like dogs or cats?”
The dowager gave her head a little shake. “No, I don’t give them names, but I can tell one from another by their shapes and patterns. And besides, there wouldn’t be much point in giving them names: they die so quickly. These people are your nameless friends for just a little while. I come here every day, say hello to the butterflies, and talk about things with them.
When the time comes, though, they just quietly go off and disappear. I’m sure it means they’ve died, but I can never find their bodies. They don’t leave any trace behind. It’s as if they’ve been absorbed by the air. They’re dainty little creatures that hardly exist at all: they come out of nowhere, search quietly for a few limited things, and disappear into nothingness again, perhaps to some other world.’