The Metamorphosis Of A Child

Althea Aboga

Author & Graphic Artist

The Metamorphosis Of A Child


Once, a caterpillar made a cocoon. It was dark and cozy; no sunlight could possibly seep through its holes, for there were none. It was the perfect environment to unwind and rest once the caterpillar had finished playing with its friends. It entered the chrysalis of its own making, curling up within for comfort and warmth. It was only supposed to stay there for a while, only until the night had faded away into the familiar shades of gold and yellow. 

But it soon found out that there was no way out. As if the pupa it lay in was sealed tightly, no struggle would allow it to escape—so it sat there, cold and alone. The only company it had was itself, swinging back and forth as its only form of entertainment. Months pass by, and it begins to wonder. Had it only known this would happen, it would have enjoyed the time it spent with its friends more dearly. Holding the memories close to its small and fragile heart was the only thing it could do as it waited for the cocoon to set it free. 

Was this it? The caterpillar questioned, only by now it was no longer larva. As its mind twisted and turned, trying to find an escape, it seemed as if its body had also been changing. Its legs grew less and less, an unfamiliar set of wings sprouted from its back. The caterpillar learned to be afraid of itself. On most days, it refused to open its eyes fearing that it might have changed again. It wanted to stay a caterpillar. Though it could not deny that remarkable yet terrifying transformation being subjected to its feeble body, the caterpillar chose to reject it. In its mind, it was just the caterpillar it once was. When it was still happy and free.

It then noticed something odd, the pupa that once perfectly cradled its body was now too tight. The lack of space was suffocating, air grew thinner and thinner by the minute. Its head uncomfortably hitting the ceiling of the cocoon, and its body coiled in such an odd and cramped way. It heard a crack, and suddenly, the tiniest ray of sun entered. The caterpillar knew exactly what to do. Immediately, it started to violently rattle itself. The walls of its shell slowly tearing down piece by piece. 

A sweet gush of wind entered its lungs, its eyes were blinded by the bright blue sky. It crawled out, leaving a dry shriveled up husk behind it—finally, it was free. The first thing it thought to do was to reunite with all of its friends. It had been several weeks since it had last seen them. It started to crawl to where it knew they would be, but when it arrived, there wasn’t a single caterpillar in sight. Only butterflies. 

One had asked it a question: “Why are you crawling? Don’t you have wings?” It flew closer to the caterpillar, a blur of black and blue. The butterfly was right, it did have wings, yet never had it once thought of even trying to fly. Frankly, the caterpillar told it that it didn’t want to fly. “Why don’t you want to fly? You have to,” the butterfly insisted, fluttering around it, creating an invisible circle that surrounded the caterpillar. 

“I am just a caterpillar,” it told the butterfly. How could it possibly learn to fly? The butterfly laughed at the caterpillar. “You’re kidding, right? You were once a caterpillar, but now you’re a butterfly like the rest of us. You have to fly. You have to!” The butterfly grew impatient, urging the caterpillar to take flight, but it just wasn’t ready yet. It didn’t have the time to adjust, the weight of its wings still made its back sore, and it could barely lift them. The caterpillar cowered, crawling back.

“What are you waiting for!? Fly! Fly! Fly!,” the butterfly continued, only approaching the caterpillar further as it backed away. The butterfly became upset, its wings flapped faster and faster. The wind almost blew the caterpillar away, its legs held onto a blade of grass as tightly as it could. It shivered in fear as the butterfly stared at it, a displeased expression drawn across its small face. The butterfly raised its voice, little by little. “I only want to help you! It’s better if you fly!” 

The caterpillar tried to scream for help, but the other butterflies were too busy gliding through the sky. With nowhere else to go, the caterpillar pushed its body off the ground, launching itself into the air. The little caterpillar flew away, fleeing from the butterfly. “You’ll thank me later!,” it heard the butterfly cackle from behind it. 

Its wings flapped irregularly, one faster than the other. Occasionally it dropped down from the air, flimsily trying to keep itself afloat. Truly a pathetic sight to behold. It could never forget what the butterfly had said. It was harsh and mean, maybe even cruel. But the truth finally dawned, it will never be a caterpillar again. 

Days seemed longer ever since that incident. The caterpillar not only had to deal with the weight of its wings, but also the weight of the responsibility it never wanted to have. The caterpillar still had nightmares of the awful butterfly from before, its face mocked the caterpillar every time it closed its little eyes. But even so, the caterpillar could not help but miss the playground that it and its friends would often visit. 

Gathering as much courage as it could, it flew to the familiar spot. The caterpillar found that most of its friends had already moved on from its worm-like state, and now lived the life of a completely different creature. While its friends flew there simply for their own leisure, the caterpillar only came there to mourn the memories it had with them; sky filled with faces that it recognized, yet not one seemed even remotely familiar. 

From the corner of its eyes, the little caterpillar spotted a newly formed butterfly, groveling at the ground on its stomach. It wriggled and turned, not having fully adjusted itself in its new form. This created a funny feeling in the caterpillar’s stomach. Maybe the butterfly from before was right to laugh at it for crawling on the ground. It did look quite funny, seeing a fully formed butterfly with wings yet not having a clue as to how to pick itself up.

This went on for a few minutes, the new butterfly continued to drag itself across the grass field as the caterpillar aimlessly stared at it. The little caterpillar’s face morphed from a look of amusement to one of disgust, staring at the new butterfly with remorse. Its wing twitched in annoyance, as no matter how hard everyone else stared at it, the young butterfly would not fly. It wouldn’t even try to fly. And so, the little caterpillar approached the new butterfly, flapping its wings loudly as it approached. 

The caterpillar had asked the new butterfly a question. “Why are you crawling? Don’t you have wings?” the caterpillar asked. Only silence answered it as the new butterfly swerved away from the caterpillar, inching away from it one step at a time. “Hey, I’m talking to you!” the caterpillar insisted, following the new butterfly, its shadow ghosting the grass below. 

The new butterfly shrugged, continuing to crawl away. “I don’t want to talk to you.” It said simply. The caterpillar grew angry at this: “I’m only trying to help! It’s easier if you fly!,” it retorted. That seemed to have made the butterfly stop in its tracks, looking back at the upset caterpillar. “Why do you wanna help me? I’ll learn to fly when the time is right, so please stop trying to force me to fly,” it said before looking back, waddling away. 

The caterpillar felt a sharp pang in its chest, flying idle in the sky. It felt so jealous of the new butterfly. The feeling of envy arose from the bottom of its small heart, exploding until the tips of its antenna. But even knowing this, it felt happy. Perhaps, it was too late for the little caterpillar to change… but if the next generation of butterflies are strong like the one it encountered earlier, then there is hope for the rest of them. 

It only now realized how much time it wasted feeling sorry for itself, how much time it could’ve saved by sticking up for itself. If it had only been like the new butterfly, the caterpillar would never have forced itself to fly when it wasn’t ready. The caterpillar shook its head, ridding itself of those thoughts. “No!” the caterpillar told itself. “I won’t waste time feeling sorry for myself anymore.” It continued, lowering its feeble body to the ground, its legs moving as it paced forward on the ground. “All I need is to take some time to adjust.” It said, proudly marching on the ground, and as the rest of them stared at it like it was some sort of wild animal, the caterpillar smiled, the first in a long time, finally content with the butterfly that it had become.