Once upon a time, on a leaf as green as the sky is blue, a newly born caterpillar named Sprout was munching her way from one end of a leaf to the other. She had not been part of the world for very long but was impressed with what she had seen so far. The fresh air filled her lungs and there was plenty of food for her to eat. Sprout could see flowers of all different colours both behind and in front of her and, in the distance, she could see her brothers and sisters eating away at their own pace. It naturally, then, came as a surprise to both Sprout, and her brothers and sisters, when a young boy no more than seven years of age, picked up Sprout with his bare fingers, put her in a container, and closed the lid.
The boy had attempted to make the container very accommodating by putting holes in the top and placing in leaves and sticks of all different shapes and sizes. It didn’t take Sprout long, however, to realise that, despite all of its creature comforts, the container was not all that large. She was able to crawl from one end of the container to the other in a matter of seconds, and the fact there appeared to be no way out made Sprout feel uneasy.
For the next three days, the boy fed Sprout and looked after her as best as he could, though, after day five, Sprout had noticed her container was becoming increasingly untidy and the food was being delivered far less frequent. Sprout was starting to miss her family and, just when she thought that she may never see them again, the boy opened the lid to what was now her home and put a grasshopper right inside with her.
Immediately, Sprout made her way to the opposite end of the container and watched as the grasshopper, mechanical as he was in his movements, looked over at her and turned his body to face her. Sprout coward in the corner and tried to pull up a leaf to shield her from the Grasshoppers’ view, but she was too late. In a split second, the grasshopper was towering above her, ready to strike at any moment.
“Relaaaaaaax!” the grasshopper announced, trying to hold back his laughter. “You need to chill there little wiggly worm. You’ll get yourself a one-way ticket to the caterpillar hospital getting yourself all worked up like that.” The grasshopper fashioned a chair out of the sticks and leaves available to him and sat down cross-legged. Sprout peered at him from behind her leaf and slowly made her way out.
“You’re not going to eat me?” Sprout asked.
“Now, look here young squiggly digs, the name’s Clive. Clive the Hopper. And I am many things, but a caterpillar eater ain’t one of them. No, Ma’am! I’d much rather dine on leaves and grass than feel your wriggly bones between my teeth. Gross.” Clive picked up a couple of leaves in his hands and inspected them closely. “Though the leaves you’re being served could sure use a little freshening up!”
Sprout felt frustrated and wanted Clive to make his point. “Well, what are you doing here if not to eat me?”
“Straight to the point, hey? Now that’s something I can oblige Miss Soon-To-Be-Free Caterpillar.”
“You’re here to rescue me?” Sprout asked.
“Oh no, no, no! You don’t get to squirm your way out of here that easy. My job is to help you teach yourself to escape from this little mess you got yourself into.”
Sprout found herself pacing up down her leaf. “Help me escape? How do you suggest I do that? That boy can pick me up much easier than he can pick you up, and you still ended up in here.”
“Now, listen little wiggly worm, what you gotta do, is you gotta make a fuss. Humans haaaaate a fuss.” Clive stood up, moved to the centre of the container and started flexing his agile limbs. “Now, pay attention young caterpillar! Oh, and you might take cover!” Sprout grabbed her leaf and hid just enough that she could still see Clive. Suddenly, Clive started zipping around the container, making a mess and banging into the sides to get the human’s attention. Sprout couldn’t believe the speed at which Clive could move around the container, and she also couldn’t believe it when the boy opened the lid and took Clive out of the container, just as quickly as he put him in there. “Make a fuuuuuuuss!” Clive yelled as the boy took him out of view and shut the lid again. Sprout couldn’t imagine how she might ever make as much of a fuss as the one Clive made, and she went to bed that night feeling tired and lonely, wishing that she had the means to send a message to the boy that she was no longer happy.
When Sprout woke up, she felt as though she had been asleep for an extremely long time. She opened her eyes slowly and went to stretch her body and realised her body felt odd. Looking beside herself, Sprout noticed that something happened to her as she slept and she now possessed two wings, one either side of her body and both as beautiful as each other. It dawned on her that her wish may have granted and that she may be able to use her wings to make a fuss. She practised flying up and down her container but it didn’t feel right flying in such a crowded place. Taking Clive’s advice, she started to flutter around the container, making as much noise as she could. For a few minutes, there was no movement, but, after several stops and restarts, she finally saw the boy walking over to inspect the container.
She put her wings to use and made even more noise around each corner of the container. Her heart filled with excitement as the boy finally took the lid off. As he tried to grab her with his hands, Sprout flew out of his reach and headed straight for the window. She took a moment to sit on its sill and wave goodbye to the boy, before flying away to see if she could find her brothers and sisters.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.