The Million Butterflies – a short story


The Million Butterflies

By Jonalyn Esperanza Crisologo 

I think I am fortunate that I grew up enjoying reading. We had a small library at home filled with an assortment of books. And I was not too picky. I read encyclopedias and textbooks, as much as I did fairy tales and mythologies.

Most of the time, I do not recall titles and authors. But when a story really strikes a chord, I remember the details vividly. And one of the stories that came to mind recently was that of a caterpillar.

There were a million caterpillars of all ages and sizes, climbing a huge tree. The caterpillars were fighting their way to get to the top of the tree, which was hidden up in the clouds.

Why were they struggling to get to the top? Because up there, they can have a splendid view of the most beautiful site: colourful winged creatures flying up in the clouds.

Halfway through his climb, a tiny caterpillar paused because he thought something caught his eye. A larger caterpillar then stomped at one of his feet, pushing him aside and continuing the climb upward. The caterpillar shook off the thought and continued the climb. Just then, another figure caught his eye. This time, he paused in spite of the crowd gathering around him. He fought his way towards the branches to find out what it was. Could he just have been imagining it?

Suddenly, a strange figure of bright colours flew by. He stared, mesmerized. Bewildered, he could not help wondering if it was just a dream. An apparition, perhaps. What could it be? He wondered. Could it be one of the beautiful, winged creatures that they were all fighting to get a chance to glimpse?

The flying figure flew passed him again. He followed it with his gaze. That’s how he noticed a sound coming off from a white elongated casket hiding just behind the foliage before him. He followed the sound and observed the casket closely. It looked like it was about to break. Or maybe something was pushing hard to come out of it. He wanted to help it, but he wasn’t sure how. He sat by and watched. Just a few moments then, the tip finally broke off and split in two. A little while longer, something slowly crept out of the casket.

Indeed, something was trapped inside and was struggling to come out! Now, the tiny caterpillar stood on his legs anticipating what was about to happen next.

Not too long after, a pair of huge bright colourful wings spread before him and a winged figure, similar to the one he saw, finally freed itself from the casket. It stayed there frozen in place just for a second. Then, it flapped its wings, testing it. And in a blink of an eye, it flew away. Just like that.

Still, struck with awe, the tiny caterpillar remained in place, just a few moments longer, contemplating what he just witnessed. Waking from his thoughts, He walked over to the white casket. It was then that he caught sight of another caterpillar, just like him or a wee bit older. He observed carefully how it clung to a branch and began spinning a white thread about it. The tiny caterpillar watched just until it was almost entirely covered.

As if caught in a trance, he instinctively clung to a branch and began to spin a white thread about him.

You may also like to read Larry’s Ghost Experiment:

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