“Of course we can, as long as you need,” Lynn said tenderly and watched with some confusion and concern as Flutter slowly climbed onto a low branch nearby and began to spin a blanket around herself until she was completely encased and hanging from the limb.
“Good night, dear fairy,” she sighed from inside, and then was silent. Lynn waited anxiously for a while, and then fell asleep. When she awoke, her friend was still enclosed, and for several days she grew more and more concerned about the uncertainty of what was happening. She waited a long time, and began to wonder if she should move on without the caterpillar, but couldn’t bear to leave her behind in this way. About two weeks passed before the little hanging bed rustled a bit and the fairy heard a moan.
“Flutter! Is that you? Can you hear me? Are you ok?” Lynn said anxiously.
“Yes, I can hear you! And I think I’m ok, but I’m not sure,” the sweet voice was faint and muffled by the blanket. “I’m coming out, but it’s taking some work. Give me time, and I’ll be with you again soon!” The minutes felt like hours to the fairy, but finally the blanket fell away, and out came Flutter, only –
“Flutter, what’s happened to you? You have- you have-“
“Wings!” declared Flutter with proud delight. “Oh Lynn, don’t you see? The King granted my wish! He gave me wings! And they are so big and green, like the leaves – just like I dreamed! Isn’t it marvelous?”
Lynn was shocked and felt a strange twinge of sadness, as though she had somehow been betrayed. “Marvelous,” she repeated, then told herself to rejoice for her dear friend. “Yes, they are truly marvelous! You look beautiful in that shade of green!”
Flutter flicked her new wings and twirled around, trying to admire them herself, then leapt into the air and began to soar up and up- then she looked down at her friend and quickly landed beside her. “Don’t worry,” she said gently as she patted her on the shoulder. “I won’t leave you alone. See? I can walk beside you as I always have, and together we’ll go to see the King. You will fly too!”
The friends continued on for a few days, trying to talk and sing and laugh as they did before. But even as Flutter tried to walk along, she seemed very distracted and restless, with her wings always twitching. Without her realizing it, they would more and more often lift her from the ground and try to carry her off with the breeze. Lynn tried to ignore these things and asked her friend about her time in the blanket.
“I think it’s called a cocoon,” Flutter said, “That’s what the King called it, anyway.”
“The King! He spoke to you?” Lynn was very excited by this.
“Yes, I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him. He told me that he had given me the desire to fly, and would fulfill that desire. He just said I needed to rest and be patient and he would take care of everything. When the time was right, he told me to leave the cocoon and…” Flutter’s voice faded and she looked up at the sky.
“And, what?” asked Lynn, though she knew already the answer.
“He told me to fly,” Flutter said, and looked at the fairy. Tears came to her eyes. “And I want to, but I don’t want to leave you-“
“Then you must fly,” Lynn said, putting on a brave smile. “He gave you wings, and fulfilled your dream, so now you should do what he said and live this new life.”
“My dear fairy,” Flutter said, taking her friend’s hands and squeezing them tightly. “I don’t understand why he gave me wings and not you. I don’t know what he has in store for you. But I do know that he is good, and all good desires in our hearts come from him, and he will fulfill it at the perfect time. I love you! Farewell, sweet friend!” And as though finally letting go of gravity and embracing her gift, she was whisked away into the treetops and blended in with the leaves.
Lynn watched her go, with bittersweet tears. She was glad to see her friend so happy, but she was sad to be alone again – not just alone on the forest path, but alone in her longing for what she did not have. She tried to assure herself that she would share in this glorious fate, but she knew deep down that they were not the same. Flutter was a caterpillar who became a butterfly, and she was a fairy who had always had wings that were useless. Flutter hadn’t been handicapped, she just hadn’t grown into her wings yet. But now she had, and now she was gone, living the life the fairy had been dreaming of for so long. She couldn’t help doubting what Flutter had said – what if the Great King didn’t help her? What if her desire to fly was not from him? What if the time never came for her to fly? How could she keep longing for something that would never come true? The thought choked her, despair grew bigger than hope. She buried her face in the newly sprouted leaves of a tree and cried.