Monarch – My First Short Story

This is the first short story I actually finished. I am quite proud of it. I have heard from various sources that literary journals don’t like you to publish stories on your blog before you submit them. Something about exclusivity, I don’t know. But I don’t plan on submitting this one and hopefully there will be many more quality stories in the future.

Monarch

The misshapen clay pot sat on the windowsill behind the kitchen sink undisturbed in the bustle of people coming and going. A month ago the boy and his father had transplanted the milkweed with an egg already attached to the underside of a delicate leaf. They waited patiently as a tiny caterpillar emerged and grew yellow, black, and white. Each morning after, the boy would run into his parents’ room, climb on the bed between his mother and father and give a report of its progress. “He’s a hungry bug daddy. He almost ate an entire leaf.”

Days later they watched as the caterpillar attached its abdomen to one of the thick green stalks and slowly hung itself upside down. The skin at the back of its neck split and smooth cool green poured from the opening. The boy watched enthralled. “Did it hurt him daddy? Was the caterpillar afraid?” The green expanded and pushed the old skin till it was a crumpled like a shirt discarded on the floor. The boy touched it tentatively like he was poking at something sacred.

The next day the chrysalis was hard like a green pebble, his mother cried and the relatives kept coming through the door. At night they didn’t leave. The women wept and held him so close he felt he would suffocate.  They tousled his hair and said how brave he was. The men stood silently in the doorways and at the windows looking through the distance then at the boy and then back again. He said hello to aunts, uncles, and cousins he had never met who asked him about school even though it was the middle of summer. He wanted to run to the kitchen, climb on the counter, and see the smooth green shell that hid the caterpillar; but felt somehow that he shouldn’t.

They stayed and cried for days. Then one morning the house was empty. While his mother was alone in bed the boy pushed the stool to the counter. The dust was dancing in the sunlight through the window and the soft green chrysalis had turned black and orange. He imagined his father curled up in the warm dark with the caterpillar. It began to move. Again the skin split and a winged form emerged. He watched as it struggled and finally, triumphantly hung panting from the leaf.

The boy put out his finger and the butterfly climbed onto it. He felt its feet tickling his skin. He opened the door to the old house and walked outside. He held his hand in the sun as the orange and black wings stretched for the first time. Did the butterfly remember being a caterpillar? His face was suddenly wet. He reached with shaky fingers and gently and delicately plucked each of the iridescent wings from the little black body.

The Book

Large size