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What counts is on the inside

A fairy tale

A fairy tale

February 17, 2009|By AUBREY BOYD / Special to Pulse

Far away in the beautiful Amazon rain forest, a tiny caterpillar wiggled along the forest floor. Her real name had long been forgotten, for most of the forest creatures only knew her as Ugly, Ugly the Caterpillar.

Day in and day out, she crept along the forest floor and did what caterpillars do best - eat. Surprisingly, the eating was not her favorite part, but instead she enjoyed the many animals she would meet along the way. Sometimes, she would stop to talk with beetle, help worm dig or share a leaf with snail. She liked everyone, and she never said a mean word.

Unfortunately, the other forest animals were not as kind as caterpillar was. She could seldom go anywhere without being called a mean, hurtful name about her appearance. For the most part, she did her best to ignore the name-calling, but no matter what, she could not ignore the hurt she felt inside. Each night, as she crawled under her leaf, she cried.

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"Why can't I just be normal?" she would ask. "I just wish others could see who I am on the inside, instead of only seeing my outward appearance."

Some forest animals were even mean enough to play practical jokes on Ugly. They would tie her legs together with grass while she slept or steal her leaf cover and eat it. Despite everything she went through, Ugly was never mean to anyone. She remained the kindest, most helpful creature in the entire forest. When an animal needed a home, she was the first to gather leaves and sticks. If an animal was hungry, she was the first to help them hunt for food. When she found an animal having trouble digging, she would use her many legs to help him. Sometimes the animals she helped did not appreciate the things she did or took her for granted because of her small size, but Ugly was not discouraged and continued to be the best caterpillar she could be.

One frigid, rainy day, Ugly came down with a terrible cold. She coughed and she sneezed. Her cold just would not go away! She crawled up on a twig and curled up in a ball to keep the rain off of her. Then she drifted off into a deep sleep.

While she was asleep, Ugly had many, many dreams. Little did she know of the enormous change that was taking place. Not only was the rainy season coming to an end in the forest, but some strange sort of silk-like blanket was forming all around her tiny body. It was cozy, and whatever it was, it kept her nice and warm.

One morning, Ugly squinted open one eye to see a bright ray of sunshine blazing down on her through a hole in the forest canopy. She heard the chirping of the exotic rain forest birds and the excited calls of many insects. She opened her other eye and rolled over to stretch, but she was stuck. She pushed and wiggled, but whatever was holding her just would not budge.

"Is this another practical joke?" asked Ugly. "Will someone please be kind enough to come and help me get free?" she cried frantically.

Overhead, a toucan happened to be flying by. He quickly swooped down to investigate the noise he had heard from far away. As he was conducting his search, he stumbled upon the distraught caterpillar. He had never met Ugly before, but he was a kind bird, and wanted to do anything that he could to help.

"What seems to be the problem here?" he asked.

"I am stuck! I have squirmed and I have wiggled, but I just cannot come free! Won't you please help me?" Ugly cried.

"Hmmm," thought Toucan. He was a wise bird who was often asked for advice by many of the forest animals. "I suggest you wait."

"Wait?! What do you mean wait?" Ugly was quite puzzled.

"Yes, you wait and I will wait here with you."

Ugly did not like what she heard, but she took Toucan's advice anyway. A few hours passed. Finally, Toucan spoke.

"All right, try to come free now," he told Ugly.

As she began to wiggle, she felt a strange tingling throughout her small body. Her once warm blanket had now become hard and flaky and began to crack apart. She was finally free! As she began to stretch and to move her legs, she caught a glimpse of the most beautiful colors she had ever seen! Bright oranges, vibrant reds and sunny yellows surrounded her. But wait - they were connected to her; yes, they were part of her body! She had wings!

"You are so very beautiful and you shine with all the colors of the rainbow!" exclaimed Toucan. "You must test out your new wings right now! Go and fly to the river. Look to its glassy surface, and there you will see your reflection."

Ugly jumped from the twig and she flew! She landed on a rock and looked out over the river on her reflection. She was beautiful indeed, and she had never been more proud in all of her life. She realized that true beauty comes from within, and if one is beautiful on the inside, their outside will soon show it also.

Now Ugly is called Beautiful, Beautiful the Butterfly, and she outshines every animal in the entire rain forest.

Aubrey Boyd is a junior at Heritage Academy. Her story about Ugly the Caterpillar was written for a class project.

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