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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Nature's Stained Glass Windows


Miss Barton and her Kindergarten class stood in a meadow of wildflowers. “Class, I want each of you to go and find something colorful. You can pick any flower you want, or you can look for something else. When you hear me blow the whistle, bring whatever you've found with you and come back right here to this spot. I'll be waiting for you.”

Twenty excited children ran off in all directions. Giggles, chortles and chuckles echoed through the tall bramble hedges.

Several of the children picked the first flower they saw and returned to their teacher.

“Sit down and wait. Find a soft spot in the grass.” Miss Barton's gaze went from one child to the other, quickly examining their finds. Ten minutes later all but two of the children returned. She blew the whistle. “Who's still missing?”

The class looked at each other. Alexander raised his hand. “Nicholas and Jessie aren't here yet.”

Sebastian raised his hand. “Miss Barton! I saw Nicholas chasing a bluebird.”

“Has anyone seen Jessie?”

The children shook their heads back and forth.

She blew the whistle again. A few moments later Nicholas came running out from a patch of shimmering aspen trees. He held a tiny bird in his hand.

“While we're waiting for Jessie, why don't you take turns coming up and showing the rest of the class what you found. Nicholas, since you're already standing, please tell us what you've got in your hand.” Miss Barton urged the boy closer.

He opened his hands enough for the bird to poke its blue head out. “I found this bluebird. I can't open my hand all the way or it will fly off.”

“It's very exquisite. Class, do you see the shade of blue?”

“It looks like he's holding the ocean in his hand,” Gilian shouted.

“I think it looks like a Smurf!” The entire class laughed when Andrew spoke.

“Why don't you open your hand and let the bird go. It's not good for it to be trapped for long.” Miss Barton watched as Nicholas freed the bird. “Who wants to be next.”

While the class showed each other different flowers in shades of pink, mauve, orange, lavender and ochre, Miss Barton scanned the meadow for signs of Jessie. A wave of relief flowed through her when she saw the chestnut haired girl running towards the group.

Jessie sat down next to the others, her hands cupped.

After the last of the children had shown their flower petals, Miss Barton invited Jessie up. “I think Jessie has something special in her hands. See how she holds them cupped together. Jessie, what have you go in there?”

When she opened her fingers a gossamer winged butterfly fluttered around her face. Its multi-colored wings flapped up and down. When it landed on top of Jessie's head, once again the class roared with laughter.

“Jessie,” Miss Barton said, “why did you pick this butterfly. Tell us about it.”

Jessie held out the palm of her hand and the insect landed, open winged. “My grandma used to have a butterfly garden. Every year she planted purple cornflowers, black-eyed Susan, goldenrod and sunflowers. She and I used to sit outside under the weeping willow tree and watch butterflies.”

“That's wonderful, Jessie. I'm sure you saw a lot of different types. Do you still go to visit your grandma?” Miss Barton squatted next to the girl.

A lip turned up in a quiver. Fighting tears, Jessie answered, “My grandma died this summer. She was lying in her flower garden, next to the roses. My mom said that a butterfly fluttered around my grandma's head, like it was sad that she died.”

Miss Barton breathed deeply, trying to gather her composure. “Why Jessie, that's amazing.”

“My grandma used to tell me that butterfly wings are nature's stained glass window. One time she took me to the cathedral and showed me a real stained glass window. She was right. Today I looked all over the meadow and I found some wild roses. This butterfly flew over to me. I think it knew my grandma.”

A tear trickled down Miss Barton's cheek. She stood and took Jessie's hand. “Look class. Jessie's brought us a special butterfly. Its wings are iridescent. That means that you can see a different color standing over there, than I can see from where I stand. Come and see.”

The class stood and moved closer, gathering in a circle around Jessie and Miss Barton. The butterfly fluttered from one child's hand to another and then flew away, leaving the meadow behind.

“Goodbye. Tell Grandma that I miss her.” Jessie called the butterfly and waved.

On the drive back to school Miss Barton couldn't say a word. The entire bus was unusually quite.

When the passed the Norman church on the corner, Alexander blurted out, “There's a stained glass window and it looks just like the butterfly wings.”

Soon all the children on the bus plastered their faces against the dirty windows, hoping for a glance at the church.

When it was time to go home, Miss Barton watched Jessie leave. A smile spread across the little girl's face. Somehow the appearance of one butterfly had changed the lives of every person in the meadow that day, especially hers.


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