by Jourdan Cameron
"Isaac, is that you?"
"In the flesh."
As if she were falling horizontally, the woman's frilly red skirt flowed behind her as she glided across the abandoned beach.
"I just had a feeling I'd find you here," she said breathless. "You always would come here on gloomy days like these. Nobody comes here when they expect rain except for you." She extended her hand, and he shook it gingerly.
"So," she said grinning, "what've you been up to lately? I heard you landed a role in a big movie."
He nodded. "That's correct, Natalie. I'm the lead actor in an adaptation of Bradbury's Rocket Man."
"That's so fantastic! You've always loved stories. It has been so long since I've seen you. We should go celebrate at our old place, you'll never believe what Tony did with his pizzeria-"
"Natalie." Isaac was staring out at the ocean waves as they licked the infinite sand into an unfathomable abyss. He always wondered which had come first- the sand or the waves. He always supposed that the waves came first, seeing as they at some point chewed down great mountains, that they might be swallowed and redeposited elsewhere.
"Natalie, I have a story you'll love."
"Oh?" Her voice cracked a little in anxious anticipation. "Maybe you can tell me at the restaurant?"
"It won't be long, I assure you." Isaac shifted his stare to Natalie's eyes. "Long ago, a boy found a fantastic red caterpillar- redder than the fabric of your skirt," he said, pointing.
"The boy fed it the finest leaves he could find, and he marveled as it grew larger and brighter. The boy showed it to his friends, and they all loved the caterpillar."
Natalie broke away from Isaac's dead gaze and sat on the sand to stare into the gray sea as he continued speaking.
"And so the caterpillar kept growing- and it grew sluggish. Though it was a beautiful creature, covered in strange outgrowths and incredible patterns, it began to bore the boy, who continued to feed it. One morning, though, the boy looked into the jar that bore the creature. What he found was a chrysalis. The caterpillar had hidden itself from him. And so, the boy waited."
Isaac seated himself on the sand beside Natalie, noiselessly.
"And so, the boy waited," he said with a sigh. "As he waited, he took long walks in the woods, and do you know what he found? Another caterpillar, twice as big and just as bright as his old one. Without hesitation, he took it home and tossed the old caterpillar's chrysalis into the woods. This new caterpillar crawled restlessly around the jar, refusing to all the fine leaves and vegetation the boy gave it. The creature wouldn't eat, and after a few days, it's jewel-bright colors began to fade. His conscience itching, the boy realized what he needed to do, and released the larva into the woods."
He sat silent for awhile.
"Is that the end?"
"No, it's not. While the boy was in the woods, do you know what else he found?"
Natalie shook her head.
"He found the empty chrysalis lying among dead leaves. He brought it home with him, never knowing how beautiful the butterfly that emerged from it was. He only had his memories of the larva before it destroyed it's form in pursuit of something greater."
"That's quite a story," said Natalie, glancing about the beach. "Some kid's going to learn patience from it. You writing a kid's book?"
He shrugged. "I could."
"You know, I'm friends with this one guru, she's a great artist, I could get you guys together."
"That would be nice," he said, as the two stood up. "So, what happened at Tony's lately?" Isaac took off his thin nylon jacket and draped it over Natalie's shoulders.
"You shouldn't wear such short sleeves on such chilly days, you know."
With that, the two left the beach.
I wrote this piece for a school assignment- it was about a secret being spoken, though not quite too obviously- rather like in the story Hills Like White Elephants; I feel that I could've benefited from a bit more subtlety here, but I still like the results.
If you're wondering about my book, Me Squared is still coming along nicely. I've already finished editing it, and I'm just getting things sorted with copyright and such. I'll be sure to post about it once I have everything together.