A man and a woman wake up together lying on a four-poster metal-framed bed with all-white sheets. The brown, sand-colored walls of the room are covered in squares outlined in thick black lines, remnants of picture frames no longer there.
They are naked with salt deposits at the corners of their eyes. In between their heads as they gain consciousness lies a large dead butterfly as big as the man’s hand, its wings flashy teal. They have little memory of the butterfly, only enough to let them think they may have seen it before.
They bare wounds. The woman carefully unwraps a bloodied cloth wound hastily around the man’s right hand to reveal a sizable gash through his life line. As she turns her back to him, bleeding tick marks etched between her shoulder blades bring the man to tears. He cries, gently tracing the scars and still-fresh cuts with his fingers as if to heal them with his sorrow.
They stand apart from each other and don clothing. They then make their way to a window. Sunlight streams in and across their bodies. Each raises their left hand as if to shield the light from their eyes and brings it across and down in a sweeping arc. The man moves behind and holds her. They go into a dip. He brings her back up and clutches her close to him. Eyes closed, they stand as one, the beating of their hearts and the up and down of their chests synchronized. A perfect match.
They are back on the bed, and two custodians enter the room. They offer them suckers, red and blue with scorpions encased inside. With outstretched hands, the man and woman accept them. As they lick their suckers, the two custodians blow them from the room with huge gusts of visibly cold air, disorienting the two as they spin and stumble down the hallway into the plush backseat of a car from the 50s.
They’re underwater and convulsing in the backseat as they lick red and blue. The scene flashes back and forth between their car underwater and everyone in a concrete room seated in chairs in car formation next to a projector casting images of an underwater world on screen. Where are they? Has this all been a dream?
Finding themselves back on the four-poster metal-framed bed with all white sheets, they stare at brown sand-colored walls no longer bare. The squares outlined in thick black lines have been replaced by picture frames of butterflies. They get off the bed to look at the butterflies and find the same one that lied dead between their heads when they first awoke.
“Do you remember?” she screams at him, pointing to the butterfly in its case.
She grabs the frame off the wall and holds it desperately in front of her as if it’s an extension of her.
“Do you remember?” she repeats with more urgency.
The man begins to cry; he does. I must do this—his final thought before what happens next.
He rips the frame she holds in front of her, places it against the wall, and punches through the glass with his fist, tearing out the butterfly. Clutched in his fist, he presents it in front of her face and finds a shard of glass with his right hand.
She is scared now. He takes a step in her direction that sends her fleeing to the other side of the room. Around the bed she goes. With nowhere else to run, she flings herself onto the bed. With the grace of a ballerina, he leaps after her into the air and lands on top of her, pinning her body to those all-white sheets and her face into the bars at the end of the bed.
Subdued and on top of her, the glass shard goes into her back and a new tick mark is cut between her shoulder blades. The man tears cloth from the lace bed curtain and hastily wraps his bleeding hand. They lose consciousness resting side by side, and the butterfly falls on the mattress between their heads.
Two custodians enter the room. They sweep up the glass shards from off the floor, remove all of the pictures from the brown, sand-colored walls, and exit.
A man and a woman wake up together…