By Tim Law
Molly watched on from the front porch of her family’s beach house as her older brother Marcus chased a beautiful blue Ulysses butterfly. With each fruitless leap and swipe that Marcus made with his bug catching net, Molly’s smile grew all the broader.
“You’ll never catch it!” Molly laughed. “That butterfly is far too smart for you.”
“I must have it!” Marcus cried in frustration. “A-ha!”
Molly gasped as she watched the butterfly flutter within reach and then cried out in horror as the edge of the net clipped one of the delicate wings and the poor thing tumbled to the ground like an autumn leaf.
“You brute,” scolded Molly as she ran from where she’d been sitting over to the wounded Ulysses.
She thumped her brother as hard as she could but the difference in ages meant Marcus just shrugged off the blow. Ignoring Molly’s frown he picked up the insect and examined it closely.
“Blast, what a waste,” grumbled the boy as he let the butterfly drop again. “There is no way I can add such a damaged specimen to my collection.”
Molly caught the creature as it drifted downwards, cradling it carefully in her cupped hands.
“Don’t you worry little butterfly,” she whispered, the majestic creature twitching as she spoke. “I will nurse you back to health.”
Molly ignored her brother as he then rushed off, back towards the flowering Melicope Ruba.
As Molly rushed her tiny patient into the house she called out for her mom.
“Mom! Mom! Do we have any shoeboxes?”
“What are you going on about, Molly?” asked Sasha, Molly and Marcus’ mother.
“My dumb brother and his stupid net,” said Molly, skidding to a halt in front of her mom. “Look what he’s done.”
Sasha took one look at the dying butterfly held so delicately by her caring daughter. The sole wing that still slowly flittered was growing weaker and weaker.
“Oh, Molly,” sighed Sasha. “I don’t think it is going to make it.”
“Oh mom, don’t say that,” Molly cried, but she too knew that what her mom said was the truth.
“Come on outside again and let us see what we can find,” Molly’s mom encouraged.
Marcus was admiring a large blue specimen that he had managed to catch when Sasha and Molly came back out the front.
“Put the net away now Marcus,” requested his mom. “That is enough butterfly chasing for today.”
“Yes mom,” agreed the boy. “I have finally caught one, now I need to preserve it.”
Molly shuddered as she heard those words of excitement come from her big brother, but her mom’s guiding hand steered her attention towards the tree with the lush green leafage and bright pink blooms.
“Look here,” whispered Sasha as she lifted one of the tree’s leaves so her daughter could look underneath.
“Oh, wow,” murmured Molly as she saw the cluster of little round eggs.
“Place the mother at the base of the tree and make sure that you keep her eggs safe,” suggested Sasha.
“I will mom,” replied the little girl as she gently placed the butterfly’s body, now still, amongst the roots of the Melicope.
Each day Molly visited the tree and looked beneath the leaf. One day she called out to her mom as she discovered that the eggs had all gone.
“Look here,” said Sasha, pointing to the tiny caterpillars, green, yellow, and spikey. “The eggs have all hatched.”
The caterpillars hungrily ate at the Euodia leaves.
Molly watched them grow bigger and fatter until they all hid themselves away in leaf-like cocoons.
On the day that the butterflies broke free Molly snapped her brother’s net.
“Hey, no fair!” grumbled Marcus.
He made to cuff his sister but the look on Molly’s face made him quickly change his mind.
“You will not touch my babies,” Molly rumbled.
After that Marcus found a different hobby. Chasing butterflies just wasn’t fun any more.