Challenge: ask a friend for three prompts and use them in a five hundred word fictional story
Prompts: attraction, reputation, spit

It tucked its chin tighter into its abdomen, rough walls of cocoon made from its own spit seeming to close in on it increasingly by day, a slow suffocation that paradoxically birthed new life. Inwardly it frowned, wondering once more whether it would emerge a butterfly or…something else.

Cocoons have a well deserved reputation for being able to change something small and insignificant into something magnificent, but it knew that was not the case for every encapsulated being.

Lots of ugly things come out of cocoons.

It didn’t want to be ugly. It wanted to find itself adorned with wings of fire, to burn a red streak against the bright blue sky as gusts of wind paraded it above the rest of creation. It wanted to draw more beautiful things into its presence by being beautiful itself—the law of attraction.

It wanted to dance above gardens throbbing with life, an ornament adorning the majestic landscape.

It shifted uncomfortably.

The shift brought with it sudden relief it was not expecting—a subtle widening of space accompanied by a hint of light. The silence was laced with a barely audible crack, the beginning of a long awaited event.

It was time.

Its tucked chin suddenly snapped upright. It heaved and grunted, but found it was weaker than it had hoped from time spent motionless. The walls of its cocoon expanded almost imperceptibly, then fell dishearteningly back into place.

It tried again.

It pushed itself vigorously from one side to the other, limbs thrusting outward, desperate for escape.

Just as the task was beginning to seem futile, one side of the cocoon submitted to the pressure. It was thinner and weaker than the other side, no match for the now strengthening occupant struggling to emerge. The shell casing gave way in small bursts to the light of the great outdoors, cold air streaming inward as it continued its arduous task.

It managed to create an opening just big enough to squeeze through. Contorting its body, it twisted and writhed until, finally, it broke free. A single limb clung to the edge of the cocoon to keep it from falling to the ground far below.

Its elation at having emerged quickly transformed into anxiety as it wondered if it had, indeed, become a beautiful butterfly. Frantic eyes darted about until they landed on a glistening dewdrop.

With caution it approached, peering at its own sharp reflection therein.

It was ugly—oh my, it was ugly indeed. It must be one of the ugliest creatures that ever was. It was uglier than every climbing, crawling or flying thing it had ever seen.

This was it. This was the climax of its own existence. This was the final phase of a life spent wondering and waiting. This ugly exterior encased the creature’s very being tighter than the cocoon it just shed.

This was the self that had been crafted slowly and tenderly nurtured.

This was—without a doubt, and in all its ugliness—

Truly magnificent.

(C) 2022 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.

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