Molly & Mike the Lockdown Monarchs

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

A story inspired by two beautiful caterpillars during the 2020 lockdown, offering hope as well as covering the life cycle of the butterfly.

Molly and Mike – The Lockdown Monarchs

Molly and Mike were born at 21 Aroha St in Wai O Taiki Bay, New Zealand.  They were born in April 2020 during a very strange time in history.  They were born during the worldwide lockdown as humans fought against the pandemic of Coronavirus or Covid-19.

As there was no cure at this stage and no vaccine to stop this highly contagious flu from quickly spreading, all the humans could do was stay at home in their bubbles and avoid contact with anyone outside their bubble apart from a quick chat to someone standing 2 metres away as they walked around their neighbourhood.  They were only allowed to drive their cars to the supermarket, preferably just once a week, unless they were an essential worker.  They were not allowed to visit friends, go to the cinema or go to the beach.  It was a tough time with lots of different challenges for everyone.

Molly and Mike weren’t humans though.  They were beautiful Monarch caterpillars.  They had stunning markings of bright sunshine yellow, glossy black and pure white stripes.  This was so they looked mean and dangerous to any birds that fancied a snack!They hatched from eggs which had been carefully laid on a very inviting swan plant just outside Sally’s front door.  Sally was a human living on her own, which was sometimes a bit lonely during this time.  She was delighted therefore to have some company and have Molly and Mike join her bubble.  She shouted good morning to them as the sun came up, waved a cheery “see you later” as she headed off on her three daily walks and blew a goodnight kiss from the door when she went off to bed.

“Bit weird” thought Mike and Molly, but they enjoyed the welcome.  What they enjoyed the most, however, was the juicy, succulent, delicious leaves of the swan plant.

“Mmmm…” munch, munch, munch ” mmm….” they went all day.  “Mmmm….”munch, munch, munch.

They crept and crawled and crawled and crept along delicate branch, after delicate branch of the plant, munching and crunching and crunching and munching. 

They had lots of little feet and these were the cutest little black feet you could imagine.  They had a lot of climbing and balancing to do up and down the plant all day long, so all these feet helped them safely step from branch to branch and leaf to leaf as they chomped and chewed away.

After several weeks of munching and crunching and chomping and chewing they had grown really long and plump.  “I think I’m ready” said Molly as she dragged herself along the now rather bedraggled looking plant, completely stripped of its leaves.  “Me too” said Mike.  “I might head across to that comfy looking weatherboard on the house for the next couple of weeks” “Good idea” said Molly “I think I’ll find branch on this bush close to your weatherboard.”  So they crawled and they crept and they crept and they crawled until they reached their chosen resting spots.

“I’ve just enough energy left to twist and turn and transform myself” said Molly.  “I’m quite excited though” she added. “Same” said Mike.  So they hung upside down, twisted until their cremasters, which are like a special hook or anchor, were securely fixed to their resting spot.“Night, night Molly”  said Mike.  “Night, night Mike” said Molly. They then both twisted and turned and pushed and pushed as they gradually shed their skins.  It was hard work, but as their black stripes slowly slipped off, they gradually and magically transformed themselves into chrysalises.  When they had finally wriggled out of their skins, almost like pushing out of a sleeping bag, they gave a couple of final twists so they were securely fastened to the weatherboard and swan plant for the next couple of weeks.  They drifted off into a very deep and peaceful sleep in their amazing new form. 

“Wow that is incredible!” said Sally, who had kept popping out to check they were OK as the transformation took place.  “Nature is so clever, so innovative and so beautiful.” She thought.

They’d changed from cute, cheerful caterpillars into exquisite jewels.  They hung like ear-rings made of polished greenstone with tiny amber beads around the top.  Stunning!

Molly and Mike slept and they slept.  And they slept some more and then some more.  They had completely self-isolated.  They were in their own little lockdown.

Sally kept a close eye on them but knowing this was a very important time for Molly and Mike, she didn’t disturb them.

After a couple of weeks a very weird and wonderful thing began to happen.  Sally noticed an orange colour beginning to show through the now much thinner chrysalis shell.  “Hmm” she thought, “that’s strange.  They were yellow not orange!”

The next day when Sally went out to say good morning, she noticed a couple of very long, very skinny black legs sticking out of one of the chrysalises.

“Wow” she exclaimed “What’s happening here?” 

Over the next couple of hours, some lovely, long legs poked out of the other chrysalis too.  A little while later, Sally stared with wonder as the most vibrant, deep, orange wings with a pattern of thin black lines and white dots unfolded out of the little chrysalis.  Finally some cute little antennae and the rest of the body popped out.  The most beautiful butterfly emerged and Molly stood wobbling gingerly on her gangly six legs.  Mike emerged shortly afterwards.  He too had transformed into an incredibly handsome Monarch butterfly.

“Good morning Mike” said Molly

“Good morning Molly” said Mike

“Good sleep?”  they asked together

“Wonderful” they replied together.

“You look a bit different” Molly said to Mike

“You too” he replied. 

“You look more stunning than ever” he added.  

“So do you” giggled Molly.

“A king and queen” thought Sally, as she admired the two monarchs.

The royal pair swayed and started gradually moving their wings, pumping energy and life into them.  It was hard work and they would stop and rest every now and again.  After a few hours, however, Molly and Mike looked bright and cheerful as they spread out their stunning wings and prepared to fly.  They would head off to find some delicious nectar, new friends and a new swan plant with plenty of tasty leaves, where they could create a home for their children.

Off they took, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 

“Good-bye and safe travels” called Sally as they set off. 

“You too” they replied.  “And thank you for having us”

“Thank you for keeping me company during lockdown” said Sally.  “you brought me joy every day Molly and Mike” she beamed.

Although she was sad to see them go, this was in fact a very special day in history.  Molly and Mike weren’t the only ones to break free from their bubbles and head off to explore.  Today was also the end of the human lockdown in New Zealand.  Sally could also finally leave her house, leave her street, hop in her car and visit her friends and parts of Auckland she hadn’t seen for a very long time.

Self isolating and taking time out in a secure place had worked.  The virus had been contained and it was safe to go out again.  Just as Mike and Molly emerged from their own lockdown ready to seize the day,  the humans too felt uplifted and excited as they emerged from their homes.  They enjoyed a sense of freedom and optimism for the new way of life ahead. 

As Sally appreciated the beauty of Molly and Mike, she also appreciated how lucky she was and how important it is to respect the wonders and balance of nature.  The lockdown had been tough for everyone around the world, but nature had thrived and it had brought with it a greater appreciation of family and friends, birds and bees, flowers and trees.  It had nurtured kindness, respect and patience.  Long may this continue.

So on your tougher days of lockdown, think of Molly and Mike.  Make the most of being in a safe, cosy place until it is time to emerge, more beautiful than ever and with a greater sense of freedom, love and appreciation for everything around us.

Submitted: April 16, 2020

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