ButterFly

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Story for children 2-6 yrs

By

Elisabetta Panzica

Bright lights gleamed against the darkened skies, dancing on the tips of the new spring grass, guiding the dawn into the canopy above the forest. Flowers lifted their faces to the sun. The hum of a thousand wings echoed across the wood. Grass poked its head out of the soil, stretching tall, braving the morning chill, and trees sprouted new leaves. The forest came alive.

A child fairy giggled in the distance, watching as her elders worked. She had no name. All fairies were born nameless and remained so until they found their calling.

It was fairy law.

* * *

Every morning before the Earth became aware that night had faded, the fairies slipped back into the Land of Fairies.  Except for the child fairy, who always stayed behind, sitting on a large mushroom shoot, pouting. She would sit for hours before going home. The mushroom shoot was her favorite thinking spot, she hated to return to the Land of Fairies empty-handed. The next day she would do it all over again, go out into the forest, try to earn a name, stay behind, pout, and feel sorry for herself, then go home and repeat the process. Over and Over. Day after day.

When she went out into the forest to earn a name, the fairy would take her best friend, Needles the Caterpillar. The little fairy would fly to the tree tops to gather leaves for Needles throughout the day as they explored. Lately, Needles seemed more tired than usual and hungrier. The little fairy was making more trips up to the highest tree tops to find new tender leaves to keep Needles satisfied. It was hard work.

Their usual routine started by talking to the entire forest, to figure out which work suited the fairy. The more creatures they spoke with, the more confused the fairy became. The flowers were always so silly and happy, so unfocused that sometimes they weren’t any help at all. And the trees were so serious, but full of wisdom. The grass hardly spoke at all, and the animals all had too many stories to tell – but none that helped her.

Needles waddled under a mushroom shoot. He had eaten so much, he could hardly move.

“I hope you get your name soon,” he said, in a groggy voice.

“Me too. Hey, how did you get your name, Needles?” Fairy asked.

“A human boy,” Needles said.  “He found me and started playing with me. He said my spikes felt like needles. I don’t know what needles are, I’ve never seen them. But he started calling me that, and then he said he had to go home, but he never came back.”

“I suppose needles look like your spikes,” the fairy said.

“Maybe,” Needles yawned, smacking his lips as he munched on the pile of leaves the fairy had brought. Needles began dozing off. His plump head hit the ground with a loud thud. The fairy took a step back, startled. Needles could hardly keep his eyes open. She would let him rest today.

“I think I’ll go to Mrs. Bunny-paws, maybe she can tell me what to do,” the fairy said, as her friend turned over, waving good-bye.  Before the fairy could wave back, Needles was fast asleep.

She would have to go search without him.

* * *

It took the fairy only a few minutes to reach Bunny Hill where many rabbit families lived underground. The little fairy hovered over a rabbit hole, calling out to Mrs. Bunny Paws. All around her the earth rose in mounds. The dirt seemed like mountains, great piles of soil dug up by the rabbits who were still digging out their homes.

One by one, ten little heads popped out. Some of them had white fur, others brown, and some had both. The little fairy smiled. Mrs. Bunny -Paws came out wiping her hands on her apron. She’d been making carrot juice all morning.

“Hello,” Mrs. Bunny-paws said. “What can I do for you?”

“I want to know what you think my work in the forest should be?” the fairy asked.

Mrs. Bunny-Paws thought for a long time. “Well,” she said finally, “I think you should watch over something small. A Stag or a Lion might be difficult to manage.”

“But not impossible?” the fairy asked.

“No, not impossible, you fairy folk take care of all living things in the forest. But I think you would do well with the deer mice.” Mrs. Bunny-Paws smiled.

“Deer mice? Do they have antlers?”

“No.” Mrs. Bunny-paws laughed, trying to imagine what that would look like.

“Where do I find them?”

“In the grasslands,” Mrs. Bunny-Paws pointed east.

“I’ll go see them now,” the fairy said, thanking Mrs. Bunny Paws for the suggestion.

“Let me know what happens.” Mrs. Bunny-Paws picked up one of her bunnies as she waved goodbye.

So excited, the fairy wanted to share the news with her friend. But when she returned to the mushroom shoot, Needles was gone.

* * *

The days passed and turned to months, the young fairy never found Needles. She felt alone without him. One day she went to her friend Red, a giant redwood tree. A tiny brown object dangled from underneath its branches. Something was trapped inside. It was tapping. The fairy watched the shell as it swung from side to side. She stared at the great blue top that covered the forest. Red seemed to go on forever.  His limbs stretched, touching the great blue.  The little fairy wished Needles could see this strange thing that dangled from Red’s limb.

Red giggled.    “Don’t you know what’s happening?”

“No. Is it a baby Tree?” the fairy asked. Her brown eyes widened. She had never seen a baby tree before.

Red laughed.   “No, it’s a cocoon.”

“A cocoon?” The fairy repeated the word.

The object cracked along the side, suddenly. It moved and wiggled.

“Something’s trying to come out!” The fairy flapped her wings and hovered over the object. She carefully pulled it apart with a twig she borrowed from Red and helped pry the strange thing open.

“What is it?” the fairy gasped, as out came the most magnificent creature the fairy had ever seen.  Red was right, it wasn’t a tiny tree at all.

He was almost the size of the fairy. A pair of wings flapped behind him, bright orange and yellow like a brilliant sun rising over the horizon.

“Don’t you recognize me?” the creature asked.

Fairy shook her head. “No.”

“It’s me, Needles.”

“Needles?”

“I am a butterfly, all of us become butterflies.”

“You mean I am a butterfly too?” The fairy flapped her wings.

“No.” A voice came from behind them. It was the fairy queen. Her lips curled at the corners. “But that is what you shall be called.” She wore a long blue silk gown with tiny white dew drops sparkling like diamonds along the hemline, and in front of her gown. Her long golden hair lifted off her back with the flutter of her wings.  “You did such a good job with Needles, it’s your duty, to watch over caterpillars, to make sure they all become butterflies.”  The queen tapped the little fairy with her scepter.  Red shivered, and the dew from all the tips of his leaves dropped to the earth.

The little fairy smiled, proud to share a name with her friend Needles. Butterfly spread her wings and hovered above Red, and together she and Needles flew away into the forest to tell their friends the good news.