A Caterpillar Crossing By Soren James
November 12, 2015 Comments Off on A Caterpillar Crossing By Soren James
I once saw a caterpillar crossing a road, while in the distance a car headed toward it. I stepped into the road to halt the car, and when it stopped, the driver asked me if it was an emergency. I said, “Yes, there’s a caterpillar in the road.”
He said, “That’s odd, I remember when I was about your age, I once stepped into the road to save the pupa of a caterpillar, and a strange thing occurred . . . the driver began to tell me a story about how, he too, had once saved a butterfly on a road by stepping in front of car.”
So I said to him, “Okay, I’m bored now. Would you like to run over the caterpillar? I’ve got better things to do than listen to your stories.”
“I felt the same at your age,” said the driver, “Sometimes you just have to get on with life.”
While in the process of marching away, my lack of interest was disrupted when I turned back to ask, “Did the driver in your tale say the same thing?”
“Eventually, yes. You see, I was more patient than you and allowed him to unfurl a long series of similar tales, spanning all the way back to the early age of the horse and cart.”
“A bit like I’ve now allowed you to do?”
“I suppose so, yes. But you’ve got away with the short version. The version I heard had twenty-seven embedded stories, and I was forced to listen to every one of them.”
Again turning to leave, I said, “When I grow up, I hope I don’t become like you, boring other people with the details of my stories.”
“When you get older, you’ll be unable to resist passing this story on. It regenerates itself regardless of personal will. One day you’ll be driving along in your hover car, or whatever it is you’ll have in the future, and you’ll be stopped by someone trying to save a butterfly. When that happens, you’ll be unable to prevent yourself from relating these events.”
Twenty years later, I found myself driving along in my laser-elevated vehicle when a kid stopped me in an attempt to save a butterfly by claiming that they were nearing extinction. I felt an urge rising in me to recount the similar, earlier incident from my own life, but I resisted this impulse by shooting the kid in the head.
Twenty years later in my prison cell, having had time to reflect on my previously angry and impatient nature, I’ve finally decided to let go of my hostility toward the world — to here and now recount the details of my fable in the hope that it may be passed on to others who are concerned about nature on our roads.
© 2015 Soren James
Soren James has been previously published in Every Day Fiction, Page & Spine, and Freeze Frame Fiction.