My daughter wants me to write a story. “You be the author” she says, “and I’ll be the illustrator.” She hands me a book of blank pages she has stapled together, its pages open left to right, like the Japanese books her grandma gives her. On the title page she has written in pink colored pencil: “The Story of the not-so-colorful butterfly.” Underneath it, a drawing of a fat butterfly with large, puffy wings colored charcoal gray. “Can you finish it today?” she smiles hopefully up at me. I send her off to school, my heart in my hands as I walk her to class. Hours later, I sit in the warm afternoon sunlight, her pages in my lap, and begin to write.
The Story of the Not-So-Colorful Butterfly
by Stacie Eirich
Illustrated by Sadie Eirich
Once upon a time there lived a not-so-colorful butterfly named Sunny. She hadn’t started out that way. She began life as a colorful caterpillar – bright pea green and mustard yellow with black spots. She climbed trees with her caterpillar friends, May and June.
Sunny loved climbing, and she loved munching on leaves, right after the rain when they were ripe and juicy. But what she loved more than anything was to tell stories. Her stories were full of adventure – pirates, witches and wizards, brave heroes who fought dragons and princesses who spoke their minds. She loved to sit up high in her tree and weave tales to the other caterpillars, spinning a magical story web around them.
She told them in sun and shade, and at night by the light of the moon. Her friends loved to listen, but agreed that Sunny was, well, a little strange. Or at least, different from them.
Sunny and her friends dreamed of the day when they would spin into a chrysalis, beginning their transformations into butterflies. Sunny imagined her wings with rainbow colors that would sparkle in the sunlight.
One day in late Winter, when the first Spring buds were forming on the trees, Sunny curled into a candy cane shape, hanging upside down from a small branch, and began to spin her chrysalis.
After two long weeks of work, Sunny popped out in excitement. She imagined how beautiful her rainbow wings must look. She flew quickly down to a stream not far from her tree, peering into the water at her reflection.
“No!” she gasped aloud, hopping a step back. She couldn’t believe her eyes! Staring back at her was a butterfly as black as night, with not a speck of color or pattern.
This was not what she had imagined at all! No, no – this would not do. What would her friends look like? And what would they say when they saw her? She couldn’t bear to find out. She lowered her head, flapping quickly away to hide high up in the tree, in the shade of some leaves.
If only I could be a caterpillar again she thought. The sun rose higher in the sky as she sat thinking all day, thinking so hard that she didn’t even notice when the sun set and May and June perched down on some branches beside her.
“Wow what big wings you have!” May said. “You look like the midnight sky” said June. “We’ve missed your stories – tell us one please!” “Yes, tell us one!” May echoed.
Sunny hesitated. Did she really look like the midnight sky? She looked up at the vast, dark blue-purplish black sky above her, dotted with tiny stars. It was beautiful.
Sunny let out a long, slow breath and began “Once upon a time, there was a not-so-colorful butterfly..”
As she spoke, she felt just like she had as a caterpillar – breathless, excited, full of adventure and dreams.
Sunny smiled. She felt beautiful, just as she was.
Copyright May 8 2016 Stacie and Sadie Eirich