Original Works

Desk | Engine | Butterfly


“What’s wrong, Captain?” I asked.

“Our butterfly isn’t working,” the Captain replied.

I strode toward him and spotted the fragile machine lying lifeless on the work desk. The Captain wore a monocle strapped around his head, as he leaned in for a closer inspection.

“I can handle this. The men up deck are waiting for your instructions,” I said.

“All right. Come up once it’s fixed.”

“Yes, sir.”

I watched the Captain exit the cabin before turning to the mechanical critter. Unmoving, it was harmless. But I knew, that once its wings fluttered, it had the power of a God. I also knew, that once it breathed again, the adventure would be over. Still, I got to work.

Unscrewing the top exoskeleton and removing the protective case, I found the source of the problem. There was a deep dent on the butterfly’s engine. It must have had a collision for it to receive such damage. Using a pincer, I detached the heart-like device and lifted it out of the shell. The Captain would be proud.

“You’ll be fine, little one,” I said.

Heading to the shelf across the work desk, I dug through boxes of mechanical hearts. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect fit. In fact, I didn’t have long. Giving the butterfly a new heart, I hit the reboot button and watched as its buggy eyes lit up while its wings flitted in the air.

“Hello there. I’m sorry there isn’t much time to rest, but you’ve got to get to work.”

Cupping my hands around it, I hurried to the top deck where everyone had gathered. When I arrived, our ship steered to face the large volcanic island. We were still far from our enemy’s sight, but they were not far from ours.

Under the pastel moonlight, the island was covered with specks of ember. The glows of the flames illuminated the stone buildings, as the shadows of its people drifted along the walls. I could almost see them. I could almost hear their cheerful music and their oblivious guffaws. I could almost smell their savoury meat pies. Oh, if only they knew what was coming.

“Is it fixed?” the Captain asked.

“Yes, sir.”

I gently placed the butterfly onto the Captain’s palm and immediately, the crew shuffled in for a look.

“You’ve done good,” the Captain said.

“Thank you.” I beamed.

“You just might be ready for the ship.”


“Yes, really.”

The men around me gave me pats on the back. Working and fixing the Unschuld was my lifelong dream. When I met the Captain for the first time, he told me the Unschuld was mine. But before I could own it, I had to learn everything I could from him. And while I did, he promised to protect the vessel for me.

“Thank you!” I exclaimed.

“Now, we must end this quest. Shall we set the butterfly free?” the Captain asked.

“Yes, sir. Set it free.”

The Captain nodded and released the butterfly along the sea breeze. For a while, the butterfly tumbled in the wind. But after a few flaps, it piloted itself in the right direction. A hundred times quicker than its living siblings, it made its way to the island. And as it did, I watched it closely… until the darkness swallowed it whole. From then on, I had to use my imagination.

The butterfly landed on a wooden dock. It gracefully folded its wings and stood motionlessly while the world carried on in its ruckus. The gears in its tiny body began to work, powering a different machine – its brain. Firing electrons to the special chip in its head, a mellow hum swept across the island. No person heard it. No person knew. The people basked in their last moments of ignorance before BAM!

“Raise the flag and blow the horn!” the Captain ordered. “Today, we claim this island as ours!”

The men roared in excitement and I roared along with them. Unschuld and her sisters speared through the waves toward the volcanic island. The final moments of the quest had begun. As the island’s machinery exploded to the surface, the men on-board unsheathed their swords and loaded their guns.

“Are you going to fight today?” the Captain asked me.

“Yes, sir!”

“Then don’t hold back.”

“Yes, sir!”

“Show me what you’ve got!”

“Yes, sir! I’ll-”

“Dinner is ready!”

I looked behind me and then back at the Captain.

“Ignore her,” the Captain said. “We have a battle to win.”

“I made meat pies. Your favourite. You two can continue playing later,” she said, stepping on deck.

At the intrusion, the Captain’s shoulders slumped and so did mine.

“But mum, we’re-”

“After dinner, ok? After dinner you can fight those monsters-”

“Pirates,” the Captain corrected.

“You can fight those pirates and claim their booty. After dinner.”

I wanted to insist that the battle had to happen then, but she was more powerful than any butterfly we’ve encountered. Even the Captain said nothing. He gave in and told me to wash my hands before coming to the dinner table.

“We’ll play later, ok princess?” the Captain said.


“Make sure to wash your hands properly.”


“Use soap.”

“Ok dad, ok.”

“It’s Captain, not dad.”

The Captain gave me a narrow stare and I giggled.

“Yes, sir!”

“Now that’s my little pirate.”


Desk, engine, and butterfly were words given by live60. Now what a coincidence it is that this coming Sunday is Father’s Day. Since I wrote a Mother’s Day story for this challenge, I thought it only fair to write a story for all the fathers out there too. Fingers crossed, I hope I captured the heart of a father with this story.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Whatever you’d like to write, write. I know it can be quite a challenge, but it is a challenge after all. I find it challenging myself, but I’m always surprised with what I can come up with. So give it a shot.

Happy Father’s Day to all! And happy writing to you.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

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