As the butterfly clung to the remains of its chrysalis it began to wonder quite what is was, where it should go and what it should do. Much of its life had been spent munching voraciously on leaves, but it no longer felt the need to do that. It had also crawled along with the use of its six short legs and a number of suckers on its underside. However, it legs had become longer and the suckers had gone comepletely. As for the long, loopy body it used to posess, that felt decidedly different, too.
Casting its mind back, the butterfly remembered the last thing it had done in its old form. It had spun a cosy case for itself and settled its long, replete body into it. After that, though, all was a blank. The next thing it had known was clambering awkwardly from this case, which had become hard during the intervening time.
Recent memories consisted of simply sitting very still and mentally reviewing the unfamilar form it now possessed and the accompanying feelings. On its back, the buttefly was aware of something very new. As it had hung upside-down from the redundant chrysalis, this thing – or things – had initially felt very cumbersome and heavy. Over time, however, they seemed to expand and become lighter. Exercising a new movement, the butterfly managed to flex these things, these wings, and it had felt strangely pleasant. The creature experienced a sudden urge to stop sitting, accompanied by an awareness of hunger.
Surverying the leaves again, the minibeast concluded that these would no longer serve as food. What would be suitable, however? The butterfly tentatively uncurled its long new tongue and caught a pleasant scent as it did so. Turning its head, the large multi-faceted eyes lit upon a bright object and the butterfly concluded that this could be the source of food.
Crawling awkwardly off of its chrysalis and over the leaves, the creature asked itself why walking was so difficult in this new body. However, it persevered and eventually reached the brightly coloured flower. Instinct caused the insect to uncurl its long tongue again and drink deeply of the nectar that lay in a pool at the bottom of the bloom. Feeling energised and refreshed, the butterfly looked around for another flower. It caught sight of one but, on noticing that it was a fair distance away, felt disappointed. It could not possibly crawl all that way. A bird or other predator would be sure to see it and snatch it up.
Instead, the butterfly sat.
The sun emerged from behind a cloud and, reflexively, the butterfly extended its wings to catch the rays. The warmth felt pleasant against the membranes and the minibeast began to think further about these new additions. What were they for? Further reflection brought to mind the brightly coloured insects that, whilst dwelling in its caterpillar body, it had noticed flitting about from plant to plant. At the time it had paid them little attention. It had been an ugly green insect, more intent on eating and avoiding being eaten than watching other insects, particularly those that appeared so different. Now, however, the butterfly did not feel so dissimilar to them after all.
At that moment, a flash of bright wings heralded a new arrival. It landed briefly beside our butterfly and took off again, flitting in a erratic pattern overhead. In what appeared to be an invitation, it described a final circle and flew into the distance. The buttefly flexed its new wings and, with the effort accompanying any new endeavour, it launched itself into the air. Clumsily at first, but with increasing grace, it followed the path of the other butterfly.
Our butterfly’s potential companion easily outpaced it, but this turned out to be of no consequence. During its pursiut, our butterfly looked down to see a flower below, its nectar glistening invitingly in the depths of its petals. With measured precision, the insect navigated towards the bloom and pitched gently on the edge. As its tounge drank once again of the sweet liqiud within, the buttefly began to understand.
It began to understand
– what it was
– where it should go
– what it should do.
As for the author of this short story, she is also beginning to grasp those things.