FLOATING CATERPILLARS

 

There was a caterpillar called Molly who lived at the edge of a large forest. This very forest was surrounded by a slow flowing river that went all round. Molly loved to look at this river. She would crawl all the way to the tip of a leaf and stare at the reflection of the sun. She loved to stare at the beautiful rays, bright golden-blue, that danced on the water surface almost like a miracle. Every time she went out there, her brothers and sisters told her not to. They said she was too close to the edge. What if she were to fall into the river, she would surely drown. But Molly didn’t hear, she was far too enchanted by the sun’s rays to stop.

One day, bright and early, she ate her fill of a leaf and started her long trek to the forest edge. She had lived on this one tree her whole life. So she knew the paths that led her tiny feet quickly and easily to the edge. On her way there, Molly crawled slowly behind a family of Monkeys trying not to be seen. Little Isie, the tiny baby monkey, would smile and wave every time she saw the caterpillar make the trek.

Finally after half the day, she made it to the edge of the forest. It was the perfect time. The sun was right above; she could see it like a large golden plate in the middle of the river. Molly breathed in deeply at the sight, opening her eyes wide trying to feel all the heat that exploded into her. The water must be warm, she thought and inched closer to the very tip of the leaf. Look at it, she shouted suddenly, its dancing. Molly always says she saw little human-like dancing lights on the top of the water. They were a rare sight even for her. She strained to look in closer, to see what this creatures were. Four of her feet let go of the leaf while she tried to inch in. Finally she could see it, in the mirage of her thoughts, there was a face that looked just like her imagination of her own face. There, she pointed, the tiny green face smiling back was definitely hers. It wasn’t a dancing light, it was me surrounded by the lights. She laughed for a long time about the confusion and it was only after her long-lived laughter that she realized where she was.

Molly was now dangling precariously out over the river with only one tiny foot clinging to the tip of the leaf. Horrified, she reached quickly for the back of the leaf. She missed the first one but managed on the second try. She sighed and relaxed but just at that moment she heard a loud click. Without realizing what was happening, she was already falling down towards the river with her feet still pressed against the leaf. The wind tipped the leaf over just at the moment that it landed on the glassy floor. Molly was frightened out of her wits, she looked back up and saw how brown the forest looked. The leaf must have fallen of with her still on it. What am I going to do, she shuddered as she watched her home start to move slowly down the line.

The leaf was floating away with a little caterpillar on its back. Molly was helpless, she curled herself as tight as she could and stared around her hoping for something to grab on to. Nothing came close enough. In fact, the leaf stayed right at the center of the river flowing smoothly onwards. A day passed. The frigid night brought no relief to her, she was only shocked to learn of other creatures living in the water. One had lifted its head to see her before it bumped the leaf and went on. A second day passed. Molly left the center of her new floating prison and tried to touch the water. She knew immediately she couldn’t walk on it, she would drown as soon as she stepped over. But what was she going to do, she was getting hungry with every passing minute. A fourth day passed.

I know that face, Molly was staring longingly up at the trees when a tiny Monkey came into view. Isie, the only monkey who noticed her. She was smiling and waving happily at the caterpillar she saw floating on the leaf. Molly stood up straight and tried to call over, but the monkey didn’t hear a word she said. Isie leaned in closer and Molly tried to shout again but still there was nothing to hear. Right now the baby Monkey was becoming more and more worried seeing the caterpillar opening its mouth in such a frightened way. It wandered what the insect was doing and so called its mother to come watch. The other monkeys came as well and they all took turns trying to look at the caterpillar. Every time Molly opened her mouth, the Monkeys would all look and inch closer but still nothing could be heard.

Nearly five days had passed and Molly was now starving. The only food available to her was the leaf she was on. If she ate it, she knew she would drawn. In her mind, she had debated weather it was right to eat the leaf and drawn or die of starvation on the leaf. Today she couldn’t argue any longer, she nibbled at the edge hungrily and kept eating until she was full. In that time she had already eaten half the leaf and saw that water was sipping closer and closer to her. HELP ME, she called out to the Monkeys but they only stared at her then went on eating. Molly started to cry, by nightfall this very leaf may drawn and she will became nothing. She looked up at the sun that was now a big blazing ball above her. She was grateful for one thing at least, that she got to see what the sun really looked like. And every time it danced on the river, she was close enough to feel the warmth. If she peeped down at the river itself, she was now met by the large green face that was surely hers. If she was going to die, she was happy about the things she had seen.

Giving up, she curled herself again as tight as she could and went to sleep. She didn’t want to see herself die, she would rather sleep through it. A deep sleep took her, one that had long dreams about everything she could think of. About her family who she missed. About the river that kept going round and round so slowly. About the monkeys eating to their fill and about finally having a voice that could reach out. The dream where she had a voice was her favorite and she would talk so much and tell jokes that the monkeys wouldn’t stop laughing. But then, the dreams grew shorter and she could feel herself waking up. She opened her eyes and saw darkness all around her except for a very tiny hole she couldn’t even see clearly through with one eye.

Molly thought she was dead and all the light of the world had reduced to that tiny one. She couldn’t imagine such a thing and started to cry. Her body arched every time a sob rocked her. It was too cramped to even cry. No, she shouted, I will see the sun again. She pushed as hard as she could and was relieved to see the light expanding. She pushed again with all her might and slowly by slowly the light widened. She didn’t gave up and spent most of the day pushing and pushing until finally, she felt herself stretch out into something new.

Here below her was the half eaten leaf that was still floating round and round at the center of the river. At the bank, the monkeys had stopped paying attention except for one. A little baby monkey who looked startled at what she saw. Molly looked up at the sun and sighed, nothing had changed. She looked down at the river and didn’t see the little green face. Instead she saw a rather colorful one and behind this face were two large wings.

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