"F reedom day, today,” Kayla says as I pass her desk before the lesson.

I give her a thumbs-up.

She fumbles in her bag, fishes out a little tablet, and downs it without water.

“Kayla, give your poor throat a break,” I say. “Take a drink.”

“Whatever for? It works like this too.” Her smile is sunny bright.

I shake my head — if I could just go with what “works” — and turn to my seat, as Mrs. Lehman walks in.

I watch the pale sun floating into the classroom window as she talks, and I think what a great day it is to send the butterflies off into the yonder.

The bell clangs and my classmates follow their noses down the hallway that smells of custard pie.

Today we have a different treat. Sarah and I push against the throngs and go down to the lab.

The others are already there, helping Tehilla move the butterfly habitats from the windowsills. I notice how reverently Kayla holds her habitat.

Mrs. Marcus holds out two plastic containers full of frisking butterflies. “Just two days after emerging and look at them.”

It is a wondrous thing. Deep blues and maroons. There a monarch butterfly, bright orange dotted in white. These were lifeless blackish-brown chrysalises a few days ago and now they’re raring to go.

I take a habitat inlaid with flowers. The one Sarah and I decorated. The delicate creatures are perched on the flowers, sipping the nectar, just like Tehilla said they would.

The eight of us leave the lab, carrying our habitats like lanterns in front of us.

The hallways are empty, girls drawn away by sticky custard, so no one sees our unlikely procession walking solemnly out to the yard. Mrs. Marcus leads us to a patch of greenery at the edge of the yard. Our school doesn’t have much in the way of botany, but this little hill boasts an evergreen bush and an array of wildflowers growing every which way.

“Look at that,” Mrs. Marcus breathes. “A dandelion. In March.”

We follow her finger to the tiny white flower budding at our feet.

Mrs. Marcus puts down the habitats and spreads out her hands. “Spring,” she sings out, “spring is here.”

She plucks the dandelion out of the ground, spins it between her palms, and blows, blows so the seed fluffs catch on the breeze and I can touch summer.

“There,” she says, “a great day for sending our winged friends out into the world.”

She puts a finger to her lips. “We gotta do this quiet now. Open up your habitats, girls, and let the butterflies crawl up your hand and fly away.”

Slowly, we let the butterflies free. Two purple ones tickle my hand and I whisper, “Go friends, go.”

And they are gone. In a plume of colors, the butterflies take to the air, flapping and stretching into full splendor.

We are quiet as night. And some of them, they come back, landing on Tehilla’s outstretched arm and on my shoulder and one on Kayla’s unsuspecting nose turned up at the sky.

They perch on the bushes, and some back to the habitats that have been their homes for the last two weeks. They hover about us and we form a circle of outstretched arms on which they land and take off from for a few tantalizing, incredible moments. And then those butterflies, miracles of metamorphosis, fly off beyond the bushes and say goodbye.

We watch them go, riding on the breeze, until they climb higher, further than we can ever see.

We look down and realize that our hands are still outstretched. And we laugh. Mrs. Marcus grasps the two hands closest to hers and we hold onto each other, Sarah gripping me one side, Kayla on the other, and I feel free as a butterfly myself. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 700)