There was once a caterpillar who loved to smoke. While his friends and family were rolling cocoons for themselves, he was rolling cigarettes. He would make them from discarded cigarette butts left by wandering humans, tearing off a piece of the paper and gathering the tobacco and making friends with fire ants in order to light his smokes. One by one the other caterpillars blanketed themselves, and the woods grew quiet. He smoked in peace, one cigarette after another.

Gradually, the others emerged as butterflies. “What are you doing?” they all asked him, fluttering around him with their new wings. “Surely you aren’t so lazy that you haven’t even started your cocoon yet?”

He was pestered and laughed at and shamed until at last he stepped on his last cigarette with several toes at once and began to cocoon himself. Cocooning was a lengthy process, so he found he couldn’t resist just a couple more smokes before he tucked himself away. A couple turned into a few, a few turned into several, and he found himself cocooning his mouth last, just so that he could have a final puff. Then, finally, he was covered.

But something stank in his chrysalis. Like smoke, but not the pleasant aroma of tobacco smoke.

And then he felt his many toes burning.

A cigarette had fallen into his cocoon! It was burning up, undoing all his hard work. He wriggled and writhed inside the cocoon as it hardened itself to the flame. Eventually the lack of oxygen doused the fire, but the damage was done. He emerged a misshapen thing, with worthless wings black as soot, and a cough that lasted to the end of his short life.

Peace and pleasant feelings often stunt personal development.



276’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Cocoon,” “Chainsmoking,” and, “‘Is something burning?'”

Trying my hand at an Aesop-style fable.

– H.

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