Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Second of 7 Words

Making his way forward, he lifted each foot and placed it down to a steady rhythm that moved him inch by slow inch through the thick green underbrush of the forest floor. He stopped for lunch under a tender leaf, enjoying the light breeze and hot sunshine. Legend called the unexpected warm weather “Indian Summer.” He didn’t care what it was called or why it existed, only that he was living during this time. It would undoubtedly be the highlight of his short life. This was his thought as he sat munching on the crispy veiny portion of a leaf.

Lost in his desolate thoughts of a life practically unlived, he didn’t see the moth flit to a branch near him. She stared at him intently, her blue eyes searching his profile, hoping to see the same blue reflected back in his eyes. “Excuse me?” she finally spoke, her voice a whisper carried on the wind. He looked up for the source of the soft vibrations that tickled his smallest hairs. The vibration was new, yet somehow familiar.

“Who’s there?” he called cautiously, pulling his leaf in front of him as if it could protect him from a dangerous predator.

A small ripple of joy went through the moth at his reaction to her voice. He caught the slight shaking of one of her grey and black wings out of the corner of his fifth and sixth eyes on his right side. He kept those two eyes on the wing and stood still waiting for a response.

“You can see me, can’t you?” she asked gently.

Slowly, he turned, sensing that whoever was speaking to him meant him no harm. “Yes, I can see you. Who are you mistress of the night?” he asked, showing respect for the beautiful creature that had hailed him.

She looked down, more fully in his face and saw the piercing blue eyes of her husband staring back. “What is your name young one?”

“We caterpillars have such a short life that it is usually more effort than it is worth to name us. I can only tell you that I am a Geometridea.”

“No name? That seems cruel and unusual. What kind of parent would not name their child?” Her voice came harsher. The disappointment was palatable and it tasted strange to the caterpillar. He had been disappointed with the length of his life, but this disappointment was personal to the moth and yet, strangely not aimed at him.

Carefully, he constructed his answer so as not to distress her further. “Mistress, it is not thought a personal assault to the children. We grow up only knowing the concept of a parent, not the reality. We are grateful to be born at all! So short a time we have on this earth, it would be piffle to entertain naming any larval. There is much to be done in merely choosing to bore us here that everything else must come secondary to that lofty goal.”

She sat silently, considering his words, feeling her heart beat lighter than it had since she left her chrysalis. She desperately wanted this amiable caterpillar to be who she believed him to be. “Let me ask you another question, a very personal question. Where did you hatch?”

Proudly, the caterpillar raised himself. “Mistress, I was laid in a most beautiful place. I woke beneath large green leaves that tasted sweeter than anything I’ve found since. In the middle of the leaves was a purple bulb of leaves. It was dense and filling. I could not imagine a more beautiful place or one that would provide a sweeter start to life. If my parents were alive, I would owe them a great debt of thanks for thinking of me so well.”

At this, the moth shuddered violently. The caterpillar was concerned and began to move himself toward the low lying branch. He twisted his body gracefully over a root and around a few fallen twigs before beginning his climb up the slender trunk. It was a rough climb, something suited for an experienced contortionist; something that all caterpillars can claim is one of their primary strengths. The sun set and the moon rose before he reached the branch she sat on.

“Mistress,” he called softly. Thinking he had left, she turned, surprised he was so near and her body rocked once more with a shudder. “Mistress, what is it that shakes you so?”

“Oh sweet boy,” she cried, a smile buried under her tears. “You, my child….” Her hesitation seemed to last forever. The caterpillar stood frozen to the spot, looking deep in her eyes and into a future he couldn’t yet comprehend. She began again, more assured of herself. “You are my true child. And I am what you will become.” She beamed at the surprise and wonder in his eyes. “Of all of my larval, you are the only one whom I am delighted to call my own, and as my own, you deserve a name. Your name shall be Zabbai. I cannot give you any greater gift than this my dear.” Spreading her wings, she welcomed his strong embrace and melted in the warmth of his fluffy hair. Together, they dined on the branches moist leaves and talked about life’s opportunities, even the short ones.

*** A challenge on swap-bot. My words were: caterpillar, desolate, weather, piffle, amiable, contortionist, and fluffy. ***


  1. Hahaha.... I didn't mean tonight when I said leave a comment and let me know you stopped by. I meant next time you were here.