For the first time in a long time, there was a chill in the air, a nose nipping cold that warned of the impending winter. The wind blew restlessly through the crystal clear sky causing Camille to scrunch tighter into herself. Though the sun was shining down from the cloudless heavens, she had no hope of warming her skin in its rays. She was simply too small, her legs too stubby, her limps too frozen to make the long journey to the sidewalk where she would find the balmy sanctuary. So instead, Camille curled up into a little ball. She was determined to outlast the cold. Surely, given enough time, it would warm up and she could gather the strength to make the trek. Settling in, Camille had just accepted her fate when the ground started shaking. Giant feet fell from the sky, stamping all around her. It was terrifying! Fearful for her life, she rolled herself into the smallest ball she could. She was trying to look dead, trying to hide in plain sight and at first, it seemed to be working.
“Look! A caterpillar!” Blaire yelled, stooping down to prod the little ball with his fingers.
When Camille didn’t move immediately, Blaire grew concerned. Poking at her again, this time with more oomph, Blaire vocalized, “Is it dead?”
Becoming aware that there was a potential pet caterpillar in the works, another child ran over to see what was happening. Falling to his knees by Blaire, the other child, named Lenny, watched as Blaire nudged Camille a third time.
“Maybe he got stepped on,” Blaire announced, a sense of prideful satisfaction lacing his tone.
In Blaire’s mind, there could be no other solution. The caterpillar was curled up and not moving. Death was the answer.
“Let’s step on him more!” Lenny replied enthusiastically, thinking that if Camille was already dead, squishing her guts all over the floor wouldn’t matter one way or another.
“NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!” Camille screamed in her tiny caterpillar voice, trying to wiggle out of her ball. But, before she could manage that much movement, another voice echoed her sentiment.
“What?! No! Don’t step on it! That’s not very nice. How would you like it if someone came out of nowhere and stepped on you?”
Lenny looked back over his shoulder in the direction of the voice with an apologetic and simultaneously guilty face, putting his foot back down on the ground without crushing Camille. Breathing a small sigh of relief, Camille relaxed, but only a little. She still had no idea what the two boys hovering over her had in store for her.
“Please don’t hurt me,” she whimpered.
Meanwhile, above her, the boys were oblivious to her pleas and lost in their own world of deduction.
“Maybe he’s sleeping,” Blaire said, rolling her over to see if she would move at all.
“I think he’s dead,” Lenny disagreed, “But, he can still be our pet caterpillar. Let’s go get a bucket.”
Running off to get a bucket, the boys left Camille to herself. Not sure what being a “pet caterpillar” would mean and already concerned given that just moments ago they wanted to step on her, Camille tried her hardest to unravel, but she was just too weak. Before she knew it, the boys were back and had scooped her up into a cold steel bucket. Thankfully though, they didn’t do much to her. Most of their conversation was still centered around whether or not she was alive.
“I’m alive! I’m alive!” she yelled, but to no avail.
“Hey, let’s go put some sand in the bucket for him,” Blaire decided, already up and running off to the sandbox with Lenny in tow.
When they got down to the sunny sandbox, they plopped the bucket down and started sprinkling sand on top of her. Spluttering, Camille ever so slightly shook off the granules. It was the smallest of movements, but it was enough to get her moving. Down here in the sandbox, she was bathed in sunlight. Its beams were soaking into her body and it was like waking up after a long long nap. Little by little, she started to stretch out. Despite her squirming though, she was still being drenched in sand.
Suddenly, the same voice that saved her life from earlier appeared again, “Blaire, hand me the bucket for a minute. Are you sure the caterpillar is dead?”
“He’s not moving,” Blaire answered.
“Just let me see the bucket for a sec, buddy.”
Reluctantly, Blaire handed over the bucket and a giant brown eye swam over its rim, staring down at her. Knowing that this person was the only one who thought she wasn’t dead, Camille renewed her stretching efforts. Slowly she unfurled her whole body and made a show of shaking herself off.
“Blaire, look! See? It’s moving. The caterpillar’s not dead,” the voice announced, letting the boys peer into the bucket as Camille danced away to prove the statement true.
“Yeah!” Lenny yelled enthusiastically, “Caterpillar’s alive!”
“Come on! Let’s go play with him,” Blaire said.
“Okay,” Lenny nodded, following Blaire back up to the porch, musing about the caterpillar as he went, “Maybe he likes the sun…”
From that moment on, the boys and Camille had a lot of fun together. Warmed from her time in the sun, returning to the porch was not a problem and the boys were much kinder to Camille once they knew she was alive and crawling around. All day they played together, Blaire and Lenny making sure nobody stepped on Camille. It was so much fun! And at the end of the day, the boys let Camille loose and everybody went home to sleep soundly and play again another day.
~ Miss Kt, Clubhouse Kids Teacher