Sophie and the Monarch

📅 Published on May 25, 2023

“Sophie and the Monarch”

Written by Eli Pope
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Mary Wyles

My name is Richard William Kinnley. I’m seventeen years old. Other than that, I ain’t got nothin’ to say til my daddy and lawyer get here.


I gaze down the old farm road which stretches for miles in front of me. The hood ornament on my old Dodge truck is spinning frantically as if the wind causing this action was the devil himself chasing after me. I move my eyes from the view ahead up to the rear-view mirror. There appears to be no one around for miles, and this was good. I like solitude in all its forms. It feels like home to me.

Old farmhouses are few and far between each other out in these parts. Only large fields of either corn or cattle separate one home from another. I’d known this road practically all my life. Old County Line Road. I’d grown up just a town north of here. I’d hunted out here with my daddy real regular. I’d drink beer out here with friends growing up as teens full of angst and heartache. I’d even experienced my first sexual indiscretion off this very road just ahead. The little turn-off on the right, just past a deer crossing sign riddled with bullet holes of all calibers. I can’t forget the night with Mary. Mary Jane Wyles would certainly have never forgotten that evening either.

I never could figure out how a girlfriend could touch a guy like she did—in the places that ought not to be touched, and then say she’s too good a girl to finish that kind of stuff we were headin’ for. It just seemed plain damn wrong. We both learned lessons that night though.

Mary disappeared that night. She ain’t never been found. I won’t never forget Sheriff Cane from that night either. But he never broke me. No, I reckon he won’t forget me the same as. He still follows me ‘round whenever he sees my old Dodge truck—after four years to the day. But today, I ain’t run into him.

I slowed my truck to a snail’s pace till I could only hear the truck tires crunching on pebbles on the asphalt road and the faint whir of the blades spinning on the rusted chrome hood ornament. With the windows both down and moving slower—I could hear the occasional screech of metal against metal—guess the bushing is ‘bout shot on the spinner ornament—oh well. I looked back behind me once more in the rearview to make sure nobody was following. After seeing no sign of anybody, I turned off onto the overgrown mud and gravel drive that not only led to the creek. But was also the last place Mary Jane Wyles ever saw alive, those four years ago. I slip out here and visit fairly regularly. This spot still gives me mixed feelings.

My skin prickled down my back, causing goosebumps to form as the tires slowly crunched along the path. The man-made sounds mixed in harmony with the sounds of birds in trees and critters scampering through the wooded area. Sunlight crept through the tree-covered sky painting an eerie pattern of dancing shadows across everything underneath its canopy. The movement of light gave the darkened area a subdued haunted feeling. Or maybe it was just the memory of what happened here. I don’t know, but it seemed to call to me—and I usually answered when it did.

From the corner of my eye, I saw a buck peeking ‘round from behind a large oak or walnut tree. He only seemed concerned for a minute before he dropped his head back down to continue eatin’ berries or brush. Butterflies flew willy-nilly through the beams of light shining down in columns of brightness. I flipped my key back and killed the engine to a hush. Nothing but sounds of the wilderness to be heard. I let my head fall back on the seat rest, drawing in the sounds of the creek trickling over the rocks and squirrels scampering over dried leaves—birds whistling to each other, probably warning of the intrusion I was causing.

My mind slowly crept back to that Friday night in 1972. The night that went from pleasurable passion—to something much, much more. A monster awoke inside me. One I had no clue lived there in the shadows at the time. One I held no control over when his rage was awoken. When you do something that you can’t take back or undo—it’s like a link in your internal chain snaps. When that chain breaks, ain’t nobody knows what’s gonna be released from the other end of it. The end that lives in one’s darkest recesses.

At first, I was sure as hell scared of it, but now to survive, I answer to its hunger, an appetite that seems insatiable. I come to this place to try and make peace of what was born here, what I done because it made me do. I try to tell myself it’s got to stop, that my mind can’t keep fightin’ this new driven urge. I try and convince myself that what’s been unleashed within myself ain’t part of me, but an invasion of something I can’t explain. I need reconciliation for my sins against God and his world. His other creations.

I don’t hunt in these woods no more. These trees and critters have seen too much. They hold my dark secret, and I’m afraid they may talk. I sit here now, with my windows open, my mood in one of quiet reflection—listening to see if the forest indeed holds the same memory that I do. And I beg for the memory to recede. Like waves chasing themselves back out into the abyss. God must not be done punishing me yet, cause I ain’t gotten no redemption of my soul yet. And the beast is still alive within, its appetite growing, its hold over me getting stronger.


Sophie and the monarch

The fragile wings flickered back and forth with awkward speed. It’s clumsy, thick body with long skinny legs lifted from one flower to another in a fashion appearing as if it held no control over thought, just movement. The brilliant brownish and bright-orange wings were outlined in black and then sprinkled with white dots. It was like a painting and it was beautiful.

Sophie picked out this one particular butterfly she was determined to capture and keep. Nothing was going to change her mind. Sophie held a stubbornness only a mother could appreciate from her nine-year-old. Sophie’s eyes tracked the monarch as it flittered from flower to flower, dipping its straw-like tube between the petals, drinking in its sweet nectar until it spotted another tasty morsel to sample.

Sophie positioned her net, poised to capture her target between the next flower or two in its path. She’d picked out the largest butterfly she’d ever seen. Her mommy would be very impressed when she got it caught and put in the jar she’d prepared. Her daddy already poked several holes in the lid with the icepick, so it could breathe. She’d put a stick inside with some flowers tucked in around it so she’d have a place to sit and nectar to satisfy its thirst.

Sophie’s daddy told her, she could only keep it an hour, two at most, because a butterfly’s life isn’t all that long. “Honey, that butterfly has to travel each day to make it to its home, far, far away. That pretty thing has family somewhere close that’ll miss it. You wouldn’t want snatched up by a stranger and held captive, would you?”

Sophie studied everything about monarch butterflies in her World Book Encyclopedia collection. Volume 13 had taken forever to get delivered by the mailman and when it did—she quickly flipped through the pages until monarch butterflies appeared! They were her very favorite.

Sophie moved closer as her prey flew awkwardly toward the next flower. Her net tightly gripped in one hand while the other grasped the open jar, lid nestled in her back pocket. She was prepared. She was determined. Sophie could hardly wait to put the jar in her bicycle basket and ride to her best friend’s house to show her what she was about to capture. She’d already named it. “Whisper” would be its name, at least as long as she was able to keep it. She never thought about its family missing it. She would take good care of “Whisper” while under her watchful eye.

Sophie started to lower her net over the top of the butterfly, but she was outsmarted once more as “Whisper” dropped quickly and changed direction to another flower. “Oh, darn it!” She said quietly. “Come on ‘Whisper’ I won’t hurt you! I just want to keep you for a while and then I’ll let you go back to your family.” She redirected her net and stiffened her stance. As the butterfly began to lift from the petal of the flower it began coiling its straw-tongue back in. The net swept down softly and captured her target. She quickly held the jar up to the net and gently shook the butterfly into the glass container. In one fluid motion, Sophie dropped the net and grabbed the lid from her back pocket, placing it on top and giving it a quick twist. Success! She studied her new friend and spoke quietly of how she loved it.


The bicycle ride to Amber’s

Amber lived two houses on further down County Line Road. It would lead Sophie past several corn fields, one cattle field, and then beside a stand of trees. The forest wasn’t scary during the day to Sophie. Only at night did it give her the jitters. She’d ridden several times back and forth between her house and Amber’s. Sometimes, Amber would make the trek, but today, Sophie pedaled quickly down the quiet road. She stared down at the jar in her basket attached to her handlebars. She held quite the treasure to show.

Sophie passed the first house when she heard the road noise behind her. She pulled over as far to the right as she could. No cars in front of her so she felt like she’d given enough room. Sure enough, the truck passed her by as it slowed down a bit, to be safe. Sophie paid no attention as the truck continued down the road. She kept pedaling quickly, full of excitement to see her friend and show her what she’d caught. She didn’t really pay attention or notice that the truck which passed her earlier, now sat at the edge of the road, hood open. She was almost to Amber’s house. Her legs tired from pedaling, she slowed a bit. Just the last cornfield and cow pasture to ride by before the stand of trees and she’d be there. She’d made great time.


Capturing the prey

It was just a fluke that I was on County Line Road today. I wasn’t hunting, I was just out clearing my head. Hell, I hadn’t hunted for several months. The last time I’d come too close to getting caught by a passerby. I was still recuperating from screwing up. I didn’t want to get caught. I wanted help, but not that kind. My demon would punish me horribly if I got caught and wasn’t able to feed him when he grew hungry.

But there she was. I’d tried to look away and not let him notice her. But I guess my slowing the truck had awoken him. He saw her, just as I did. Innocent and alone. Vulnerable. Pretty. He told me it would be an easy capture, and we wouldn’t keep her anyway. We’d let her go back to her family, just as soon as he was finished. I didn’t want to do it, but I listened and obeyed.

I drove past the last house by about a quarter-mile and pulled over, waiting with the engine hood open, standing in front as if I’d suffered truck problems and was checking it out. I peeked around the side of the vehicle and then under the hood through the gap before the front and back glass—spying when the pretty little girl would pedal by my truck. Like a net over an insect, I’d carefully nab her up and put her in the cab, then toss her bicycle in the bed. We were close to the spot in the woods where Mary was. He commanded me to take her there.

I could feel the excitement my demon felt. My heart pounded too, yet I kept control of my breathing. I carefully watched—both for my prey, and any passersby. I practiced a scooping maneuver a time or two, to get it fresh in my mind.  Once I spotted her making her way down the road towards me, I’d be ready. The closer she came, the more I became aware of my surroundings and what I must do to succeed without notice. I tuned my ears to hear any cars coming from either direction. Nothing but the sound of a young girl’s singing and the faint growl of her bicycle tires whirring down the asphalt road.

It happened so quickly, it almost felt like a dream. She was so stunned. She was quiet as a church mouse. After tossing her in the front seat, I quickly grabbed the bike up from the road, tires still reeling in circles like two windmills being blown by a breeze. I slammed the hood down and climbed in, looking firmly at my capture, “Not a peep, and keep your head down low. You do what I say, and you’ll be home in no time.” My dark eyes penetrated her baby-blues and she sank lower into the seat. “That’s right, that’s a good girl,” I said in a monotone but assuring way.

Before I pulled away from the side, I looked again both front and behind. Nary a soul on the road. My demon allowed my heart to slow slightly, giving my chest a bit of relief. I looked over, and she recoiled and turned away. Her knees on the floorboard now. She looked as if she were fighting not to burst into tears any minute.

My demon liked this part, I could feel his excitement, but I didn’t care for it myself. I felt her trembling fear and it made me nauseous. I just wanted to know for certain that he wouldn’t make a liar out of me. He’d let me set her free—he surely would—when he was done.

The deer crossing sign came up and I slowed the truck as I scouted the surroundings. Once again, no one in sight. The old truck purred, keeping just enough noise in the cab to help calm the tension with its deep, resounding hum.

The young girl sneaked a peek at me and asked a question. She was brave and direct. “Is my butterfly in the jar still in my bicycle basket, mister? I don’t want it to die, I need to let it go back to its family.”

I looked over at her, attempting to warm my eyes enough to reassure her—without disturbing the devil inside me. “I’ll check, I didn’t see it on the road when I picked your bike up and put it in my truck.” I smiled. “I bet it’s still there.”

I slowly turned onto the road which led to the dead end at the creek. The place where Mary Jane Wyles and I—never mind. I don’t wanna think about that right now. But I still remembered the last look in her eyes—the fading glimmer as life left her body. My knife brought that death and now suddenly my heart pounded as if I’d just pulled my bloodied blade from her neck. I didn’t mean to push it in, but she wouldn’t stop crying. She was going to scream and I couldn’t let that happen. Was my heart thumping from excitement? Fear of my devil? Or pity for the young frightened blonde-haired girl who held no idea of what my inner demon was capable of. The soul inside of my shell did not want this to happen. I was being forced. I was held captive and made to serve. Somehow all the outer-cosmos fields of energy had lined up in sync and it led to this moment in time. I wanted to pray for something to break that link which bound us together, but I was too afraid. There was hunger in the air. I looked away and opened my truck door and when I stood on the ground I turned to my captive. I held up my pointing finger to my mouth and made the shoosh sound. “You’re gonna wanna scream, but it will be far better if you don’t. What’s your name?”

Her fright filled blue eyes looked up and into mine. “It’s Sophie—and I just want my butterfly—and to see my parents again, mister. I won’t say a word. I promise I won’t tell nobody nothing.” She looked away with defeat written across her pretty face.

I walked over to the bed of the truck and reached in, dragging the front forks of the pink bicycle over to the side of my truck by its handlebars. Reaching into the basket I pulled out a Mason jar with little holes poked into the lid. Holding the glass up to the beam of light that wove its way through the thick tree limbs above—I saw the flicker of the brightly colored wings of a monarch. It was beautiful. It was held captive and helpless—just like the little girl who was prisoner inside my truck. I looked back through the rear glass and felt the similarities between the two beautiful creatures who’d suddenly without warning lost control of the lives they’d held. The freedom they didn’t even understand, was now taken from them. Totally dependent on the one who was in control of the cage they were now held.

I wanted to open the lid and release the butterfly, both of ’em. Give them the chance to fly away unscathed before evil had its way. I knew what he’d say, though. After all, we’d gone this far already. ‘What’s to stop us now, cupcake?’ I could hear it plain as day in his gravely low hissing voice.

Turning back towards the driver’s door, I held the jar out and towards Sophie. He didn’t want me to know her name. He’d told me before not to ask, but the moment felt right and the question escaped my lips before I could stop it. He knew if I knew her name it would make my heart soft and more difficult to carry out his mission. He’d been correct. I didn’t want to do what he was telling me to do.

Sophie held out her hand slowly and grasped the jar, pulling it close in to herself, looking carefully inside to see the beautiful creature inside was unharmed. A tear trickled down her cheek as she quietly spoke, “I’m so sorry ‘Whisper’, I didn’t mean to hurt you or make you be here.”

I held out my hand and softly said, “Slide over here, Sophie, it’s time to get this over with.” She slowly complied.


The conflict

Monarch larvae eat and live on milkweeds. This plant contains cardiac glycosides which are stored within the insect’s body making it toxic to many predators. The bright colors and bold patterns which both the larvae and the butterfly display, warn of their toxicity to would-be predators that may otherwise take advantage of them as a meal. Sophie had learned this through reading her World Encyclopedia, the ones her momma ordered from the mailman. She held a wealth of knowledge for only nine years old. She loved science and wanted to be a teacher when she grew up.

Sophie however held no concept that her beautiful blue eyes, blonde hair, and quiet demeanor was having a similar saving effect on her captor. It was kind of like the butterfly’s defense with their biological make-up and brightly colored beautiful wings. Sophie was unaware the man who had kidnapped her was caving into the powers she inherently displayed but was unaware of. Richard was weakening. Would his demon retreat, also?

She grasped her jar holding her butterfly friend as he helped her out of the truck on his side. She stood shaking where he told her to and began to cry when he demanded she take her clothes off. She was afraid of what that meant. Richard’s demon began to anger inside at the girl’s will to fight in such a docile way of doing as she was told in such a meek manner but with far too much hesitation and time being taken. Richard’s demon held a ferocious appetite of lust and anger to quench  .

The light filtering down between the trees was growing dimmer. Time was running out. Richard’s heart pounded as his internal battle within quietly raged, hidden behind his dark eyes that fought the urges his demon had planted inside his brain and constantly tended to. The devil was ready to reap his reward. He craved to witness fear and pain.


Inside the jar, the oxygen was slowly disappearing. Slipping away as the interior heated up within from the temperature and humidity in the air. Sophie couldn’t possibly know for certain, but her daddy had said she couldn’t keep it locked up too long. “Whisper” needed to be released to live. Sophie suddenly felt like the butterfly as time stood still. The air became harder for her too to take in as the tension between she and Richard increased.

Sophie pictured her mommy and daddy, seeing their worried faces when they’d find out she wasn’t at Amber’s house. It became harder to fill her lungs, no matter how hard she sucked in. It became easier to realize she probably would likely end up like “Whisper. Trapped and dying without family to comfort.”

Sophie finally kicked off a shoe and slowly tugged at her waistband. Richard became anxious. He was perspiring heavily now. She could smell him. Another tear slipped away and ran down her cheek.

“You’re stalling, damnit! I don’t wanna do this, but I have to. Get your Goddamned clothes off, kid. Why did you have to tempt me?” Richard asked. He began to shake as his mouth twitched. “This is all your fault!” Before he knew what he was doing, he shoved Sophie to the ground hard. She dropped the jar and it exploded next to her when it hit a stone.

The two of them looked to where the jar had broken and witnessed the monarch flittering up into the soft rays of light shining from above. It fluttered higher and higher into the trees before it disappeared into the leaves. “Whisper” had escaped and Richard looked down and saw his captive smile. It was a smile, so big, it was as if she’d also escaped. Her soul set free to fly home on the wings of her monarch.


I moved my gaze from the heavens above back down to Sophie and her blonde hair, her blue eyes and the tears now trickling down the sides of her neck. Realizing her butterfly had escaped, but she was still ensnared by me.

The demon hollered aloud with venom. “Richard—you don’t question me! Your soul is mine! You gave it to me four years ago when you let me swill your anger in and show you how to snuff the life from Mary! Do I need to walk you over to the hole you put her body in to remind you? You do Sophie now like I’ve asked or I will force you to cause her even more pain!”

My body stiffened as I knelt and looked at Sophie’s face, so young—so innocent. Was I going to let the devil force me to defile such a beautiful, precious girl—again?

I stretched my left hand out and touched Sophie’s blonde hair, turning my palm outward so the tops of my fingers ran softly down the trail of curls in an effort to comfort her. Suddenly, it was all too real. I was changing, metamorphosing back into someone with compassion again. Like a larva becoming a butterfly, I was awakened. I coyly reached with my right hand towards my pocket. I told myself I was reaching for my blade to cut the girl’s clothing free, exposing her body for him. I fumbled my fingers around, touching the ground near my leg until I felt what I was truly looking for. Never taking my eyes away from Sophie until I raised my head to the heavens. I knew she had set me free in defeat and now the last and only step needed was to mitigate the creature who’d taken control of my soul through killing Mary. This sweet girl, Sophie had saved me and now counted on me to do the same for her.


Opening the jar

My fingers suddenly stung. It felt as if a thousand volts of electricity instantly flooded the pain receptors in my brain through the fingers of my right hand. For a moment my thoughts became scrambled and surely the pain disoriented the demon inside me. My grip tightened even though it tingled with sharp prickles. I smelled an odor of rust as I looked down and saw the long sharp shard of glass in my hand. As I squeezed, red liquid spilled out between my fingers and I suddenly felt more alive than I ever have. I felt vindication, relief. I looked up to the sky one last time and swore I saw Sophie’s monarch hovering above me as my muscles retracted causing the string of muscular mechanisms to pull my hand to the left side of my throat plunging the piece of the glass jar deep into the flesh below my left ear.

I looked down at Sophie and smiled before looking away as I finished killing the beast within by slitting my throat from ear to ear.

As my body fell off to the right, sliding down the side of my truck, I swear I heard the opening of a metal lid being twisted from a jar. My soul became a part of that beautiful orange-winged butterfly which carried me high into the sky, free from my devil’s grip forever.

Screams of Satan himself screeched loud enough it’s sound parted trees as if he were feeling the sting of his own flames of fiery evil. I looked down beneath me and saw a beautiful Sophie standing up to look at the sky as if she’d witnessed the event of my inner being rising up with the beautiful butterfly she once held so tightly to. We were all alive! We were all free.

As the monarch breached the top of the trees, I could see the lights of a sheriff’s car followed by a dozen more police cars lighting the dimming road. The day’s sun began to slip into the horizon as a silence fell hushed upon the County Line Road.

My hell was over. I’d done the right thing this time. I hoped to God Mary was somehow able to watch my final act. Maybe she could see that a devil could become a butterfly if he was given the beauty of an innocent young life to save as repayment for the life he stole. A life that should have been afforded to die happy and untouched by evil a hundred years from the day it was taken.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Eli Pope
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Eli Pope

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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