The Little Golden Butterfly

(by Jo Anzalone 1966...a story for children)

     Three hundred years ago, in the land where trees never die, but grow and grow 'til they

become so tall that the stars have to move from their way...lived a butterfly. It was the only

 butterfly that had ever lived in this land of giant trees. Everything in the land was dark.

The trees spread their huge branches over the earth and hid all light from the sun. No grass

or bushes grew on the ground as no sun ever shone there to make them grow. No birds sang

among the branches. It was much too dark and lonely, so they had all flown to the land of

brilliant sunlight. No deer or fox or bear or animals of any kind lived in this land of giant

 trees. There were only the trees.....big, straight, dark trees that never moved, never felt a

breeze. They stood there year after year after year...all in quietness...all in darkness.

     It was in this giant forest that the butterfly lived. She had never seen sunshine, never had

a warm breeze lift under her wings, or heard birds sing, or ever even seen another thing that

was alive...except for the giant trees. And so, in and out, through the dark brown branches of

the trees, the lonely butterfly flew all her life...all alone. She had never known a life other

than this, but she felt somehow, somewhere deep inside herself that something was missing.

She wanted something...she didn't know what she wanted...but she wanted...something!!!

     Day after day she flew on alone in the darkness...never a sound, never a movement other

than the gentle flutter of her own wings. On and on in the silence. One day, when she was so

sad she thought she could not bear the loneliness anymore, she saw something far ahead

through the trees. It was very dim and very, very far away. She had no idea what it was

because she had never seen anything in her whole life except the dark bottom of the forest.

She flew as fast as she could...faster and faster! What was it? What could it be? She was

in such a hurry she flew straight into a dark branch she couldn't see. It tore one of her wings

and she fell to the ground. She sat there all alone in the middle of the deep black forest...a

little butterfly with a torn wing. She tried to fly...she couldn't. She tried again but couldn't

move her wing. The forest seemed darker than ever. The trees frightened her. She knew she

 would die in a little while and no one would ever know...or ever care. Her eyes filled with

tears and one big teardrop ran down her cheek and dropped on the floor of the forest. No

drop of water had ever come through the thick leaves before. The ground under the trees had

never felt rain or had sunlight shine upon it. Now, for the first time, water touched it...and it

was the teardrop of the dying butterfly.

     As soon as the teardrop fell upon the earth, the little spot it dampened turned bright green.

A little leaf sprout came through the hard earth and began to inch, two inches, five,

six, seven. A bud formed on the end, but it was so dark in the forest the butterfly could not see

it at all.

     Suddenly the air was filled with the sound of singing. It was like a great choir of hundreds

of beautiful bird voices. High up, far above the head of the butterfly, the leaves of a giant tree

began to move and spread apart. A sunbeam, brighter than any sunbeam had ever been, entered

 the forest through the opening and in a golden sparkle of blazing sun, shone in a circle around

the little green sprout. As soon as the sunbeam touched the sprout, the bud burst open into a

gorgeous rose.


     The butterfly watched, but did not understand what she saw. She only knew that it was no

longer dark, that she was no longer alone, and that her wing no longer hurt. The air was full

of sunlight and bird song and there was a lovely flower in front of her...the first flower the

little butterfly had ever seen. She tried to fly once more. She wasn't sure she could fly, but the

rose was so beautiful she had to try to go to it. Spreading her wings, she glided quietly and

gently into the air. She settled atop the rose and just sat there, feeling the sunlight all over her


     It had always been so dark that she had never seen herself before. Now, for the first time,

she sat upon her first flower  in her first sunbeam. Her wings stretched out on either side and

she looked and saw they were not dark brown as she had always thought. She was not brown!

She was a brilliant golden color! She lifted her head and looked up the sunbeam, through the

opening in the leaves to where she could hear the birds singing. It seemed as though the breeze

lifted her up and up 'til she, too, floated through the leaves and into the heavens. She floated

on and on; the birds sang more wonderfully than ever; the blue sky was more blue; and a

rainbow curved into the distance. Quickly the rainbow broke apart into a thousand thousand

pieces, and each piece was a butterfly which came and flew around the little golden one. She

followed them until they came to a land of pink and yellow roses. This was the homeland of

the butterflies, and here the little golden butterfly found again her special big rose and sat

upon it, listening to the birds sing in the sunshine and watching the other butterflies playing in

the blue sky.