Fiction - Autumn 2022

Henrietta and Her Moths

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By Andrea Barrett | September 1, 2022
Cards from the Butterflies and Moths of America series by Louis Prang & Co., 1862-1869 (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons)
Cards from the Butterflies and Moths of America series by Louis Prang & Co., 1862-1869 (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons)

For a club gathering late in the spring, Henrietta chose rosy maple moths, which Marion loved. A moth like a flower, a moth like a doll: the body furred in soft yellow, legs and feathered antennae bright pink, dark eyes shiny above pink-and-yellow wings. She had some pupae just ready to open and the afternoon’s program planned, before discovering she’d have with her not only Marion but also her two other nieces.

Elaine she could cradle, tightly wrapped, in the crook of her left arm, freeing her right hand to handle specimens and write. Marion could sit at the worktable with the four young lepidopterists currently in the club, but Caroline—how hard it was to keep track of her! She sat at the table, knocked a jar over, jumped up and rummaged through the bookshelves, sat again and watched Sadie wield a small brush, accidentally crushed a chrysalis, burst into tears—she was five, Henrietta reminded herself, still a little girl—and was consoled only when Henrietta pulled out a special low chair and set a screen partway around it, making Caroline a private corner.

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