Listen my children, and listen well to what I say, for there will be a time when I will not be able to speak as I do now…
Ages ago in a forest not far from here lived two butterfly sisters. One was bigger and had brighter colors that used to be admired by her fellow insects while the younger, while just as beautiful was often ignored by all except her parents. Though she wanted others to also admire her like they did her sister, she was ignored and often despised for her pale comparison to her elder sibling. As such, she grew to hate her.
The older one, with such love and admiration, didn’t take long to be self-conceited and vain, on top of being mean to her younger sibling. Often when she would see her trying to spread her wings in an attempt to impress others, she would laugh so hard that she attracted the attention of others, who would also join in mocking her. This happened so much that one insect asked, “Was her beauty hidden from her?” From that day on, she was referred to as the ‘Hidden beauty.’
Fed up of her constant comparison and degradation, she asked her sister to help her.
“Dearest sister, you whose beauty cannot be compared to another, won’t you help me find my own? I too want to feel special, to be loved by one and all.” However, the sister replied, laughing as she did.
“Poor, little wretch. Aren’t you asking for too much? You can never become as lovely as I, your wings will never be as bright as my own. Is it not easier to accept that? Won’t you stay in my shadow, lest the light burns you into fragments?” Heartbroken, the hidden beauty flew far away, perched on a tree branch and cried her heart out, lamenting at her inadequacy and cursing the Creator for making her ugly.
“I wanted to be seen for my worth, but mine will never be known. For as long as she is related to me, I am nothing but an itch in her backside. O Wondrous Creator, if you cannot make me as lovely as she, what then is my purpose of existence?” The more she cried, the more she caught the attention of a very hungry spider, one that was only too glad to see the damsel. He crept upon her, slowly and menacingly waiting for the right time to strike, and when she turned around, he leaped, pinning her down with his strong hairy legs, his sharp fangs glistening with saliva. But just as he was about to bite her head off, she pleaded with him.
“Please, sir. Please spare whatever little of a life I have.”
“No, young one,” said the spider, “I am too famished to let you go. Little as you are, you will ease my hunger for a time before I find another. Also, did you not ask to be relieved of your miserable life?”
“Not like this, sir. Please let me go, and I will find you another.”
“I fear I cannot do such a thing, for I already have you now. Besides, who could you bring that is better tasting than you?” It was then that it came to the young, conniving butterfly.
“I will bring you someone who is bigger and better looking than I am. The males feast on her beauty, but you will truly have her. I make you this promise, and if I fail you, then I shall be nothing but another meal to you.” The spider, all too willing to eat something but seeing the prospect of something better, agreed and let her go, but secretly followed her.
On her way, she met the old mantis, the elder of the insect world, one whose wisdom was often paramount and cherished by the residents. He stopped her, asking for a word.
“With all due respect sir, I have already been threatened once. How do I know you will not do the same?”
“I am not as young as I used to be. But I do come as a concerned neighbor, asking you to consider your ways.”
“What ways might those be?”
“I know how much you have had to endure, child. However, your worth is not tied to hers, neither your beauty roped around the admiration of others. Soon enough, one will see you for who you are, not who you are related to. Please, girl. Consider your ways.”
“But for how long? How much more can she take away from me? Surely, only a blind fool will see me for who I truly am!!” With that she took off, enraged at the mantis. How he dare ask that I wait! she thought.
When she got home, she saw her sister, admiring herself in her secret pond, talking to herself.
“My wings aren’t colorful enough, perhaps a bit more revelation? What if I am not as beautiful as I was yesterday? No, I have to be perfect. A little while longer in preparation, I am not ready to go out there.” Hearing this, she saw her sister in a new light. Had she cared though, she might feel a bit better, but she was on a mission.
“What is it, you idiot? Can’t you see I am busy?”
“Indeed, you are. I know how important it is that you stay pretty. But I come to inform you that there is one who doesn’t believe you are who you say you are.”
“What do you mean? Who is it that doesn’t know my name, whose eyes haven’t gazed upon my beauty?”
“Come at once and I will show you, that way he may see what he has been missing all this time.” The butterfly rushed to get ready and followed her sister to the same branch, checking herself to confirm she was indeed attractive.
“Now tell me, who is he?” she asked, already prancing about to attract her lost soul, not able to see him right on top of her, only noticing when he landed on her wings, tearing them apart and pinning her down. She tried to escape, screaming loudly for help, but the spider was adamant that she stay right beneath her, and after he managed to pin her down, he waited to see her horrified face squeal as he dug into it, tearing her head right off and ravaging the rest of her body in satisfaction. The young butterfly had been watching this from afar, smiling as the beautiful one was now a bloody lump, laughing as she saw her sister’s face get torn apart, her remnants dripping off the spider’s fangs.
“Thank you, my friend,” said the spider, smiling from ear to ear, “that was indeed a better delicacy than I had hoped. Now you get to be the most beautiful butterfly after your sister.”
“I’m nothing like her,” she scoffed as she flew away, only too happy to have rid the forest of a selfish, conceited brat who would soon be missed, only too excited that she was finally going to get the attention she so deserved and to prove that deluded old insect wrong, only too blind to see him shaking his head in disappointment, wishing that she had listened.
She went to her sister’s pond and pretended to be her, prancing about and admiring herself in its reflection but also practicing for her own time.
“At last, I will finally be seen for me,” she said in joy, wiping away a tear. She wasn’t worried about what she would tell her parents because even they knew that those who wandered far from home or were out and about at night would end up being meals for predators. She only hoped that they wouldn’t ask too many questions, lest she becomes desperate and leads them into the spider’s web.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” she told her reflection as she slept, eager to start her new life from the next day onwards. However, the poor soul did not get that chance. For the spider knew where she stayed, and only being too happy to have found a new feeding ground, crept to their home in the dark, where he quickly killed the father in his sleep and fed on him quietly. But as he got to the mother, she woke up, horrified at her husband’s mangled remains and tried to flee for her life, but alas! She was too old to escape, and because her pleas for mercy woke up our friend the butterfly, she watched in horror as her mother was devoured, piece by piece until her last breath in the literal jaws of death.
“My dearest friend,” the spider snarled, coming at her in greed, “come forth now, that I too may admire your taste. Do not worry, I will be quick about it.” as soon as he said this, he lunged at her, but she was quick enough to scuttle past him and start flying, but one of her wings was damaged when he tried to attack her but in vain. Angered by his defeat, he set out to eat the rest of her friends and neighbors, their only memory being the screams and horrible sounds of agony she heard as she struggled to fly away.
Weakened by her near-fatal injury, she barely managed to get to the old mantis, screaming for his help.
“What have you done child?”
“The spider. He came into my home and killed my parents. I was able to escape, but he got angry and then he….” She burst into tears, unable to complete the results of her misdeeds.
“I warned you, didn’t I? I told you to reconsider, but you wouldn’t listen. Now because of your deeds, you have welcomed the devil into our home, and he has taken plenty of innocent souls. ”
“Please, sir. Please help me. I will do anything to make it right. Anything at all,” she pleaded in pain, nursing her injuries before they overcame her.
The old insect stared at the frail butterfly, judging it silently before finally deciding on its fate. It proceeded to kneel, placing its forelimbs and uttering the following words:
O Creator of All,
I am but your humble creation, unworthy of your audience
But I come to you now, seeking one for this child.
By her misdeeds, a demon prowls our home,
Seeking to take us away from this world.
Now I ask that you shield her from him,
For light has no communion with darkness.
When he finished, the butterfly’s wings became restored, and she felt strong again. Sensing the spider nearby, she carried the mantis high into a tree and covered him, not caring that she was brightly colored. However, the spider, having had its fill crawled away, wanting to rest before finding another place to eat. She then took him back down to his home, grateful for his help.
“Thank you, and once again, I am sorry. Had I listened to you, I would have still had my family, even my sister.” but the old insect said nothing, going back to his kneeling position and speaking softly. The butterfly, not wanting to be reminded of her actions took off.
Only minutes into her unknown journey, her wings became weaker again, forcing her to flap harder just to keep going. She was not used to such strenuous work and soon had to come down near a river. Being thirsty, she went over to the water, but as soon as she saw herself, all the thirst disappeared, and according to her moonlit reflection, so did her vibrant colors. Before she knew what had overcome her, her vision began fading. She thought that it was not being used to flying at night, but it got worse and worse.
“What’s happening to me? Where is my color? Where is my vision?! You old mantis, what have you done to me??!!”” she cried out, starting to weep again. She didn’t know where to go or what to do, but she started flying anyway, struggling to keep in the air and even so to see where she was going. She then saw a bright light ahead of her, and with all her strength flew to it, circling over and over until it would disappear. All she chased was bright spots of light that appeared as guides, but would never touch or feel them again. This would go on and on until this very day.
Indeed, the old insect had prayed and he keeps praying to this day, the same words over and over:
Now I ask that you indeed grant her wishes,
Her innermost desire to be seen and appreciated.
Though not as a bright and jovial spirit,
But as a dark and cold one,
Forever paling in comparison to her more beautiful sister.
Let her colors be as her heart is,
Her flight be as her spirit forever will be.
And let her pursue the light of day,
Unrelenting and undeserving,
Until it burns her back to the shadows she deserves,
For there is no communion between light and darkness.