Fragments of Me (Heroes & Butterflies)



As children we believed they hit home runs or scored game winning touchdowns.

Lying in bed wearing Spiderman pajamas, I heard the hard crack of my father’s belt strike my mom.

Feeling nothing like a hero , I squeezed a pillow around my head to drown out her cries.

The next day, in an empty playground behind school, Lisa Barelli read my teacher’s note informing my father I slept during class.

She pointed at her notebook full of butterfly drawings. “Maybe you’re mother wants to be a butterfly like me.”


“Nobody hurts butterflies.” A tear streaked down her round cheek. “Nobody calls them fat.”

My eyes swelled with burning tears.

Someone laughed. “Andrew wants to kiss the fat girl.”

Jumping to my feet, I stood face to face with the thick chin of the school bully.

I responded in a firm, but diplomatic whisper, “That wasn’t nice.”

“What did you say?”

Bless Lisa and her powerful lungs.

“Andrew said you better take that back.”

Thanks Lisa.

Before anyone could react, I slammed my face into bully’s fist and dropped like a sack of sweet potatoes.

Bully shook his fist at Lisa.

Staggering to my feet, a second punch caught the side of my mouth. I twirled like Julie Andrews on a hillside. My skull rung, but it wasn’t the sound of music.

Receiving worse beatings from my old man, stubborn determination urged me to rise.

Hard knuckles slammed my eye.

An hour later, I studied my Quasimodo reflection in the nursing office window.

Furious with my inability to fight the bully, my angry father sent me to school with my busted lip, swollen cheek, and black eye.

Standing outside the yard, fear pounded my heart. I would be the school joke.

But something unexpected happened…

Boys rushed me to pat my back. Some shook my hand.

Girls batted admiring eyes.

Apparently, Lisa told the entire school how I defended her. She spent the year telling everyone.

I became an instant rock star.

Later, in a cafeteria full of boys and butterflies, that little boy realized being a hero had nothing to do with winning.

It meant something more.

He confirmed it, years later…

On a day when he stood at his office window, watching the World Trade Center towers collapse before his eyes.


Fragments Of Me

Fragments Of Me (Time)


Photo of me taken by unknown photographer.


258 thoughts on “Fragments of Me (Heroes & Butterflies)

  1. You experienced quite a challenging situation and you rose to the ranks of a hero at school. Andrew, this was a very brave thing you did for the girl. You deserved the greetings and pats on the back. You were a hero!
    I worked at a battered women’s shelter as a child advocate. Sadly, I attracted one of the victims husbands attention when I spoke to several large factory employees in a conference room. I made a joke, (I was asking for them to put “the Lighthouse” on their checks to the United Way) “My name’s Robin Crain, 2 birds in one name.” The man came to my door with my 2 and 4 year old’s necks in his hands, their tiny body’s dangling “In exchange for the confidential location where my wife’s at, I will give you back your kids.”
    My blood froze. My landlady called the police and he got blocked up, while I committed to marrying a tall handsome social worker for protection more than love.
    That episode and a client being shot by her husband while in the sheriff’s custody. He somehow pivoted, handcuffed and grabbed gun and aimed in an upward angle striking his wife 4 bullets/ times in the head. She was standing right next to me. It later got revived by his escaping from a minimum security facility since she was still “alive.”
    Yeah, she lived in a vegetable state while her kids got farmed into foster homes. I quit, 18 months, case load of 150 children I worked with in that short amount of time.
    This was all to say that I am sorry your mother had to endure beatings. I also understand how you wished to rescue HER. (Hugs) Comforting hugs sent your way. Tell your wife I could be your mother and not going to even tease you since you are married. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This comment and another 40 comments just popped into my dashboard. Sorry, for the delayed response. I wouldn’t want you or anyone else to think I ignored them. This is the most heart wrenching and powerful comment I have ever received. Thank you for sharing this tragic story with me. The amount evil that some people possess in their heart disturbs me. I think I write these pieces in memory of my mother and to stir up conversation on the subject of violence against women. You have read my posts, I am determined to break the chains of abuse that plague many families from generation to generation. In fact, I am preparing a post on violence against women for this coming Friday (March 25th) I hope you have a moment to stop and read and contribute your profound thoughts. Thanks for taking out the time to read and comment. Again, so sorry for the delay in my response.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think this may be my favorite post of yours that I’ve read (so far, of course). It’s very insightful and genuinely made me see the situation you described in a new light. I also always love a good joke, and there were a couple of classic ones here — particularly in the Julie Andrews section. Excellently done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love reading fragments of me. This was so captivating and well written just like the previous one and I loved the ending. waiting for more!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Is this a true story? What a powerful read. It is so sad. I feel so bad for the boy and his mom, and so angry with the dad. Whether it’s a true story or not, you gave done an amazing job at pulling the reader in and touching emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. For your honesty. It’s powerful. Our story is not for us once we have lived it. It’s for the world 🌍 you are playing an amazing part by sharing.
        My first real boyfriend had an extremely abusive dad. His brother turned away from violence against women and he didn’t. He gave me the first and last beating I took from a man. We are all touched by life and to come out of a situation learned and compassionate is hard but empowering 🙏🏼💎 bless you

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I used my childhood as a learning lesson. I have chosen to protect women and fight against violence to women. Thank you for taking the time out to read and contribute your thoughts. I appreciate it. Perhaps, you may be interested, this Friday I will be posting a read about violence against women. Have a great day.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey I read all three of your fragment memoirs 🙂 they are beautiful 🙂 Revealing a thread of your memory is very tough yet healing in its own way 🙂 I loved the way you wrote these 🙂 Simple, plain , raw emotions wonderfully jotted down 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my. That’s why you’re a good writer. You write beautifully because of your experience. I did not know you had more of a difficult childhood than me. You’re right. Words have a great impact on a child. I’m glad you emerged a better man. Wishing you the best in life.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. Yes, please continue the series. I’m dying to know more what made you a better man. You have a slightly similar experience with my husband. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to your story.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Very moving and powerful story Andrew! With the great twist in your “fortunes” and Wow! You really witnessed those towers collapsing? Wondering too – What’s become of your Mother and abusive Father – perhaps you’ve already written about it in another post?


    1. Thank you for reading this. My parents passed in the i mid 1980s. Yes I did witness September 11th. Probably will never erase those memories.

      This comment had wormed its way into my spam folder. I would never ignore your or anyone else’s comments. Thanks for your comment and the read.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I wish most men were like you sir, so pure and innocent at the age of 10 ❤️ oh my! I am honestly in tears reading it. (never thought I’d comment but my first comment on your post ☺️) this is such a special blog post 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  9. i liked your fragment you shared….. so many fragments form stained glass windows, i think you must have light coming through the fragments…. your words made me smile…brought back memories of one of my fragments 🙂 i always enjoy when i wander on WP, i hope you know you make a lot of people smile 🙂
    Take Care….You Matter…


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