The family sat at the table eating breakfast.

“Mom, I don’t feel good,” Mary said.

Mary’s mom put her hand on Mary’s forehead.

“You’re not running a fever, sweetheart,” Mary’s mom said. “What hurts?”

“My stomach feels funny,” Mary replied.

“You have a spelling test today, don’t you Mary?” her mom asked.

“Uh huh.”

Mary’s mother smiled. “Mary, you just have butterflies in your stomach. Go on to school and everything will be fine.”

Everything wasn’t fine. How did she get butterflies in her stomach Mary wondered? She didn’t remember eating any. She would never eat butterflies. She thought they were beautiful. Mary’s stomach felt worse. Her mom must be right. Mary guessed one of her brothers must have put the butterflies inside a sandwich she had eaten. Mary thought about it all morning. She felt sad about the butterflies she had eaten. Mary knew she had to do something soon.

Then she got an idea. Her teacher, Mrs. Perry, let kids go to the library when they finished their lunch. Maybe she could find out how to get rid of the butterflies. The library had computers where you could look things up on the Internet. One day in class they were taught how to search for information. The mornings usually went by fast for Mary but not today.

When lunchtime finally arrived, Mary hardly touched her food. She was afraid the butterflies wouldn’t like a bunch of food dumped on them. She put up her tray and hurried to Mrs. Perry.

“Mrs. Perry, may I please go to the library?” Mary asked.

“Are you already finished with your lunch, Mary?” Mrs. Perry asked.

“Yes Mrs. Perry, I wasn’t very hungry today.”

“Very well Mary, you may go,” said Mrs. Perry.

At the library, Mary found a computer. She typed “butterflies in your stomach” in the search box and pressed the enter key. Soon a page displayed that showed several links about butterflies in your stomach. Mary remembered that links helped get from one place to another on the Internet. Mary was surprised to see so many links about butterflies in your stomach. Lots of kids must eat them, she thought. The first link was to a website called This would be a good place to start.

Preparing for the worst, Mary began to read. The website explained that butterflies in your stomach weren’t real butterflies at all. It was an expression used to describe nervous or fluttery feelings you got in your stomach before a big game or a test. A test? Mary almost screamed. She had been worried about her spelling test. She had trouble sleeping thinking about it. Mary was glad the butterflies weren’t real. She had been so busy worrying about the butterflies she forgot to worry about her spelling test. Mary did well on her test.

Looking out the window Mary watched a beautiful yellow and black butterfly fly across the playground. Mary grinned, happy to know the butterflies were safe outside and not in her stomach.

More by Mike Gowen.