One bright morning, the brightest morning in some time, the Child woke up from a night of playful dreams. She wiped her eyes and sat up stretching into the brilliant sunlight.
What a wonderful day, thought the child.
She looked around the forest at the edge of the sea and something colorful caught her eye.
She stood up from her hammock and wandered over to a branch.
Before her was a most curious thing… not quite animal and not quite bug.
It was bright green with orange spots that looked like eyes on its one side and long hairs and two beady black orbs on the other.
“Hello and good morning,” announced the Child with a huge toothy smile.
The strange thing stopped its chewing on its leaf and half its body rose up to look the Child in the eye.
As it rose up the Child could see that this creature had hundreds of little legs with little suckers on each.
“Hello young Child, are you here to eat me?” quizzed the creature.
The Child looked in horror at this beautiful creature of the forest and assured him she wasn’t planning to eat him.
“Why no… I am mostly curious,” assured the Child.
“Why curious? I am not doing anything to harm you. I am just getting ready for my change,” replied the creature.
“Change?” The Child looked inquisitively at the creature, still standing upright.
The Child carefully scooped up the creature and ran to the wise Owl.
“Look what I found, eating a leaf on my tree,” and the Child opened her hand.
The creature again stood up, looking the Owl in the eye, and asked again, “are you going to eat me?”
The wise Owl looked at this small creature, all covered in long hair and hundreds of legs.
“If I ate you, you would not go through the change and become a beautiful being.”
The Child was bewildered by what the Owl said to this small creature.
The Owl told the Child to watch over this small creature and be sure it is safe.
The Child slowly closed her hand and ran back to her favorite tree and gently placed this strange creature on a low branch by her hammock.
“I will protect you and you will be my friend,” promised the Child. “Do you have a name?”
“I am a Caterpillar,” informed the creature.
“I am this color and design to stop birds and other animals from eating me.”
The Child looked sadly at the Caterpillar and wondered how it would be to live in a world where you were so different no one would want to come near you. Again, the Child gave her word that she would keep him safe.
Days turned into weeks and the Caterpillar continued to spend his days in the Child’s favorite tree, eating all the delicious green leaves it could.
One morning, the Child woke up from the most wonderful dream, and found the Caterpillar moving very slow.
“Are you okay,” she asked her new friend?
“I feel strange,” said the Caterpillar.
“Are you sick? Should I go get Otter, she can heal anyone!” The Child was deeply concerned about her friend, so she ran as fast as she could to the river where Otter lived. She frantically explained to Otter that her new friend called Caterpillar was sick.
Otter took the Child by the hand and they went back to her favorite tree together.
He was wiggling and wiggling.
When they arrived, the Caterpillar was hanging by the branch the Child had left him on.
“What should I do?” cried the Child to Otter.
Otter took the Child by the hand and told her that this is what Caterpillars do… just watch.
The two watched for hours as their friend spun and spun, covering himself in silky thread until he was gone.
The Child began to cry, but Otter wiped her tears and told her that he is now in a cocoon and her duty to her friend was not over, she still had to keep him safe.
The days turned warmer and warmer, and everyday the Child would wake up to the sun, thank the day for coming, and looked in on her friend. It had been weeks since he had spun himself into a cocoon. His cocoon had gone from bright white to a hard brown color. She wondered if she had done something wrong but continued to do as Otter and Owl told her, and never let the cocoon out of her sight.
One day, while swinging in her hammock, she noticed a crack in the cocoon. She ran through the woods again to the river to find Otter.
The two ran back to the tree. All the animals of the sea, forest, and sky had gathered around the Child’s tree.
Otter took the Child’s hand and whispered to her to watch, this is the change he spoke to you about.
Slowly the crack grew bigger and bigger until a wrinkled, winged creature, emerged.
The animals and the Child all watched for hours as this creature began to grow wings.
The Child stood in amazement as she watched her friend come out of his cocoon and turn into a beautiful winged creature.
The creature then released itself and floated silently on its new wings over to the Child.
She put her hand in the air and her friend landed on her finger.
“Hello my dear friend,” said the Caterpillar.
The Child looked at this delicate, beautiful creature. On its wings were the same orange eyes she had seen on the Caterpillar, it had only 6 long skinny legs, instead of the hundreds he once had. It’s body was much more slender and its black eyes still remained.
“You are my friend!” screeched the Child in excitement. “How did you perform such magic?”
“I am now Butterfly,” spoke the newly emerged insect. “This is what I was born to do.”
The Child ran to her secret hollow in the tree and pulled out the paint bucket, brush and jar of smells the old lady in the cave gave her.
“As a re-birthday present, I will paint you your favorite flower and it can smell as sweet as you’d like,” offered the Child.
She ran around the forest painting flowers all around her favorite tree for her new friend.
They played games of hide and seek and spent hours in the sun resting together.
After a few days the Butterfly began to slow down and didn’t want to play anymore. He said he felt strange again. The Child asked if he was going to change again?
“I am afraid so,” answered the Butterfly. “This change is life’s own journey.”
The Child didn’t understand.
Soon Otter and the wise old Owl appeared.
“My friend is sick and is going to change again,” cried the Child, and big tears ran down her face. “He said he’s on life’s journey.”
Otter and the Owl sat next to the Child as she watched her friend fall asleep on one of the beautiful flowers she had given him for his re-birthday. He didn’t move for a long time as the three comforted him. His journey had ended.
The Child cried for days and Otter sat with her.
“We all will die, and our life’s journey will end much like your friend,” said Otter trying to explain life to the Child. “We must live our lives as good souls and take care of our land and love each other for as long as we can.”
The Child looked at Otter with her big innocent eyes full of tears. Otter wiped away her tears and the two went to sleep in her hammock.