Tosh was dreaming of butterflies.
In her dream she stood in a meadow of flowers, the sky around her filled with brightly coloured fluttering wings, dancing on a warm spring breeze. Everywhere she looked it was as though the flowers themselves were taking flight and the very air thrummed to the beat of a billion tiny wings. Watching them, she felt her heart soar with delight; surely there had never been a more beautiful sight.
A grassy path appeared before her, leading up to the top of a nearby hill, and she followed it, first stepping lightly with bare feet, then dancing and skipping. With every step her body seemed to grow lighter until by the time she reached the top of the hill, her feet barely touched the ground. Butterflies of every colour brushed against her bare skin, and throwing her arms wide she felt the skin between her shoulder blades part painlessly as her own wings unfurled.
Joyful laughter burst from her as she took to the air, effortlessly flying higher and higher, reaching for the sun, one jewel-bright butterfly among a myriad kindred spirits, never to be alone again. She’d never felt so free and alive…
Blaring sirens snapped her back to reality. The sunlit hillside and the butterflies vanished, replaced by a single harsh bulb in the ceiling and the cold, hard floor of her cell beneath her aching body.
She wasn’t free; would never be free again. She’d spend the rest of her life in this bare cell, far away from the sun and the sky, never to see another butterfly or flower except in her dreams.
At first she’d welcomed the dreams, seeing in them a chance to escape from cruel reality, but now she hated them for taunting her with everything she’d lost.
Curling into a ball in the corner of her cell farthest from the door, Tosh wept bitter tears for all the things she’d never taken the time to appreciate and would never see again.