Wiggly and Squiggly Caterpillar Fight in the Crab Apple Tree
By Kathy Warnes
Wiggly, a brown and yellow Viceroy caterpillar, and his sister Squiggly, a green and yellow Viceroy caterpillar, lived on separate twigs on a large branch of a crab apple tree. They spent their days eating leaves from the apple tree and between bites they yelled at each other.
“Wiggly stuck out his tongue. “I’m the boy caterpillar. Mother should have given me the bigger twig.”
“She told you that you were going to be a beautiful Viceroy Butterfly,” Squiggly said, sticking out her tongue back at him. I’m the girl. I’m the beautiful one!”
Squiggly wished that she really felt beautiful, but she didn’t. She just felt hungry.
“You are not!” Wiggly said.
“I am so!" Squiggly said. “I’m telling Mother when she comes home. Where did she go, anyway?”
“I don’t know. She was gone when I woke up, but she left a note telling us to eat a good lunch,” Wiggly said.
“I think I’d like some apple juice and a peanut butter sandwich,” Squiggly said.
“I want pizza,” Wiggly argued.
“Pizza isn’t good for you!” Squiggly said. “You have to eat something that’s good for you.”
“I’m starving and I WANT PIZZA!” Wiggly shouted.
“PIZZA ISN’T GOOD FOR YOU!” Squiggly shouted back.
“Pizza is good for you! It has vegetables on it! It has tomatoes on it!”
“You have to eat something besides pizza!” Squiggly shouted again. She tore off a piece of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and threw it at him.
"STOP!!!!!!" Wise Crow landed on Wiggly’s branch so hard that it twanged up and down. “You two are making so much noise I can’t hear myself caw.”
“I need a bigger twig than Squiggly!” Wiggly said. "She’s a girl. She doesn’t need a big twig1”
“He’s a boy! He can get his own big twig!”
“You’re making so much noise I can’t think straight and I’m a Wise Crow. I usually think straighter than a ruler.”
“If you’re such a Wise Crow, why don’t you solve our problems for us?” Wiggly said. “Where did Mother go and what should we have for lunch?”
“You have to solve your own problems, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help,” Wise Crow said. “Maybe your Mother had to run an errand.”
“Mother might have gone to Australia for a visit,” Wiggly said.
“She said she was going to Zanzibar soon,” Squiggly said. “Did she tell you when she was coming back?”
Wise Crow ruffled his black feathers. He hopped back and forth on Wiggly’s branch and then he landed on Squiggly’s branch. Wise Crow coughed and then he cawed. “What did your Mother tell you to do before she left?” he asked.
“She told us to eat as much as we can,” Wiggly said.
“She told us to shed our skins as often as we can,” Squiggly said.
“Why don’t you have lunch together and then after lunch you can try on new skins?” Wise Crow asked.
“It IS lunch time," Wiggly said.
“We didn’t eat very much for breakfast,” Squiggly said.
“What are we going to eat for lunch?” Wiggly asked.
“We could have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, “ Squiggly said.
“Or we could have pizza,” Wiggly said.
“Peanut butter and jelly," Squiggly shouted.
“Pizza,” Wiggly shouted.
"CAWWWWWWW!” Wise crow shouted." I’m going to eat you both if you don’t stop fighting and eat your lunch. Why don’t you have both peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pizza?”
Squiggly stared at Wise Crow. “Would you really eat us, Wise Crow?”
Wise Crow shook his beak at them. “I will if you don’t stop fighting and eat your lunch. I will, I will, I will.” He glared at Wiggly and Squiggly until they shook hands. Wiggly and Squiggly looked at each other.
Wiggly picked up a piece of pizza from a leaf and took a bite. He chewed and swallowed until he had eaten all of the pizza. “I’m still hungry. “Are there any more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?” Wiggly asked Squiggly.
“I ate both peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Squiggly told him.
“Why did you eat both of them? You know Mother says we have to share!” Wiggly said.
“There are some tomatoes and green beans in the vegetable garden beside the barn,” Squiggly said.
“I see some red ripe apples over here,” Wiggly said. He took a bite out of the reddest apple and sweet apple juice ran down his hairy body. A drop of apple juice caught on one of his six front legs and hung like a soap bubble shimmering in the sunshine.
“Save some apple juice for me!” Squiggly said.
“I don’t have to save you any apple juice. You ate both of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Wiggly said.
“I’m going to drink some of that apple juice anyway,” Squiggly said, but before she could take a sip of the juice dripping from the apple, she heard a BUZZZZZ!
“Buzzy Bumble Bee!” Wiggly cried.
“It’s Buzzy Bumble Bee!” Squiggly squealed, hugging Buzzy. “Where have you been? We haven’t seen you in such a long time.”
“Oh I fly around here and I fly around there,
Around the town and everywhere,”Buzzy Buzzed.
“I forgot you always talk in rhymes,” Wiggly said. “Can I hug you too, Buzzy?”
“How do you hug a bumble bee?
Very, very, carefully,” Buzzy Bumblebee said.
Wiggly hugged Buzzy Bumblebee very very carefully and then he asked, “Are you going to visit our apple tree for long?”
“Your Mother sent this note with a kiss and a grin,
To tell you that it’s time to change your skin.”
“Our skins!” Squiggly said. “We were so busy arguing about pizza and peanut butter sandwiches and wondering where Mother is that we forgot about changing our skins."
Buzzy Bumblebee buried his nose in an apple blossom and he buzzed over his shoulder as he flew away.
“Goodbye, and one more reminder for you,
Don’t forget what your Mother told you to do!”
Wiggly and Squiggly finished eating their lunch. As soon as Squiggly had sipped the last drop of apple juice from the apple nearest to her she quickly crawled over the scratchy tree branch and rubbed off her old green, blue, and red striped skin. She opened a small round door in the trunk of the apple tree and pulled out three hangers. Three different new skins hung on the three hangers.
“I think I’ll try on this skin next,” Squiggly said. She took a brown spotted and orange striped skin off the hanger and wiggled into it. She crawled down to the bubbly brook that flashed like a mirror in the sunshine. She wiggled a little to the right and the orange stripes moved with her. She moved a little to the left and the brown spots moved with her. She crawled forward and the stripes and spots moved forward.
“This is not the right skin for me” Squiggly said. “I’ll try on another one.”
She crawled back to the apple tree, took off the skin and put it back on the hanger. The next skin was solid blue with yellow polka dots. Squiggly crawled back down to the bubbly brook, just a little slower this crawl, and looked at her reflection. Yellow polka dots danced in dizzy circles around her head.
“This is not the right skin for me,” Squiggly said. She crawled back up the apple tree.
“I’ll try the last skin,” she said. She pulled the third skin off the hanger and slipped it over her shoulders. The skin showed black and white zebra zigzags. Squiggly crawled slowly down the trunk of the apple tree to the bubbly brook and looked at her reflection. Black and white zebra stripes played tag around her.
“This is not the right skin for me,” Squiggly said. “I am not a black and white zebra zigzag.”
She crawled and rolled back to the apple tree and plopped panting on her twig.
A tear ran down Squiggly’s nose and dropped onto the apple tree branch underneath her. “I don’t have a new skin to wear,” she sobbed.
Wiggly humped over Squiggly’s branch. He patted her on the back. “Don’t cry, Squiggly. You can try one of my skins.”
Squiggly crawled over to Wiggly’s twig and pulled open his trunk closet door. She pulled three skins on hangers outside of the closet. The first skin had large purple flower patterns on it that reminded Squiggly of orchids.
“The flowers are pretty,” Wiggly said. “Do you like flowers, Squiggly?”
“This is not the right skin for me,” Squiggly said, closing her eyes.
Wiggly put the flowered skin back on the hanger. He handed the next skin to Squiggly. "This one is pretty, isn’t it Squiggly?”
Squiggly opened her eyes. Three green leaves and white berries covered this skin. She closed her eyes again. “That looks like poison ivy, Wiggly.” She scratched her arm. “I’m starting to itch already.”
“What about this one. Squiggly?”
Squiggly opened her eyes. The last caterpillar skin was brown, brown as the branch of the apple tree. The caterpillar skin was as brown as the dirt that covered the apple tree’s roots and helped the tree stand up straight enough to reach for the fluffy white clouds overhead.
Wiggly held the skin out to her. "Is this one alright, Squiggly?”
“It’s an ugly brown,” Squiggly started to shout at him. Then she saw a tear drop on the branch in front of Wiggly, and she bit her tongue and didn’t finish her shout.
Squiggly put on the brown skin. “Which one are you going to wear, Wiggly?”
“I like the one with the purple flowers," Wiggly told her.
Squiggly started to laugh at him, but then she looked down at her brown skin and she just smiled. “Put it on and let me see how it looks.”
Wiggly shed his old skin and put on the purple flowered new skin. He looked just as silly as Squiggly had imagined, but she rocked back and forth so her laughter wouldn’t escape from her mouth.
“Is Mother supposed to be back to see our new skins?” Wiggly asked.
“Let’s go find her,” Squiggly said.
Squiggly humped her way along the twig and Wiggly followed her, taking care not to catch his purple flowered skin on the rough scratchy surface of the twig.
Suddenly Wiggly stopped so quickly that Squiggly bumped into him.
“I tore my skin. Look at my purple flower!” Wiggly wailed.
Squiggly felt sorry enough for Wiggly to pat him on the back. “Don’t worry about it, Wiggly. I’ll put some ointment on it and it will be better in no time.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Mother said. “It’s time and you will soon have a new skin.”
“Mother, you’re back! I’m so glad to see you!” Squiggly hugged her Mother.
“I don’t want a new skin," Wiggly wailed. “I want my purple flowers!” He hugged Mother with one arm while he hugged the purple flowers with the other arm.
“I want to keep my brown skin,” Squiggly said. “It suits me.”
“It is time for the next stage,” Mother said. “Sit still and close your eyes.”
Wiggly sat still and closed his eyes. Squiggly sat still and closed one eye, but she peeked out of the corner of her other eye. She watched Wiggly spin a cocoon of silken thread and cover himself with it.
“Wiggly, you ‘re covering up your purple flowers!” she said.
Wiggly didn’t answer her. He just kept spinning his cocoon.
“Mother, look what Wiggly’s doing!” Squiggly said.
Mother laughed gently. “His purple flowers will always be a part of him.” She pointed at Squiggly. “Look what you’re doing,” she said.
Squiggly looked down at her feet and she discovered that she too, was spinning a cocoon.
“My brown skin. Mother, I want to keep my brown skin!”
“You will always have your brown skin because peaceful, warm brown is your true color,” Mother told her. “
“Brown is better than red purple flowers", Squiggly yawned.
Mother smiled her warm smile at Squiggly. “Now go to sleep. I’ll see you when you wake up.”
“I still want my brown skin,” Squiggly murmured as she drifted off to sleep.
Squiggly had strange dreams. In one of her dreams she was flying over a meadow of purple flowers – not as big as Wiggly’s purple flowers, but purple flowers – and sipping their nectar and smelling their lavender smell. She felt the warm sunshine on her wings and turned happy somersaults.
Squiggly woke up with a start. Wings? She didn’t have any wings when she went to sleep.
“Mother, come quick!” Squiggly shouted.
Mother didn’t come, but Squiggly looked up and saw Wiggly on the branch above her. She tried to hump herself onto the branch, but her body didn’t hump any more. Her legs fastened to her body in a different place and she felt like she had two arms that could flap on either side of her body. Squiggly moved her arms. Flutter! Flap! She flew and landed above the branch where Wiggly rested. She jumped down, but Wiggly’s cocoon rattled empty in the breeze that stirred the leaves of the apple tree.
“Wiggly! Where are you? Something strange has happened to us!”
“Squiggly, I’m here!”
“Where are you, Wiggly?”
Squiggly looked up and down and around. She saw ripe, red apples hanging from the tree and green apple tree leaves dancing in the breeze. She saw a beautiful butterfly with orange and black wings gliding above her head.
“Squiggly, it’s me,” the beautiful butterfly said.
“Who are you? I’m looking for my brother Wiggly,” Squiggly told the butterfly.
“I’m Wiggly!” the butterfly shouted. He sounded like Wiggy, but Squiggly still couldn’t be sure.
“You don’t have purple skin anymore,” Squiggly said. "How can you be Wiggly?”
“I flew down to the bubbly brook and saw my reflection. I like the orange and black better than the purple.”
“You are a handsome Viceroy Butterfly.” Mother smiled and hovered above Wiggly.
Squiggly stared at Mother. "You and Wiggly look alike,” she said.
“Look at yourself, Squiggly. You look exactly like us.”
Riding the breeze, Squiggly fluttered down to the brook and looked at herself in the water. She saw the same orange and black body that she had seen on mother and Wiggly. Mother hovered behind her.
“You two need new names, now that you’re not caterpillars anymore. How about Sam and Serena?”
“I like the orange and black, but I am still brown on the inside, mother. That’s my true color.”
“Put on your brown skin first, but wear your orange and black, too,” Serena,” Mother said.
Serena flew back to the apple tree and walked on air even with the branch where Wiggly rested.
She threw her empty cocoon to the waiting breeze and listened to it blow away.
“Come and fly with us, Sam,” she called to Wiggly.
“Sam? Who is Sam?” Wiggly shouted.
“Fly over here and do a somersault with me and I’ll tell you,” Serena said.
Every day Serena and Sam turn somersaults on trampoline air currents. They streak orange and black pinwheels of color up, up, up to the sun. At night, they fly to meet the rising moon.
At night, Serena dives down, down, down to rest on the brown bark of the apple tree and every day she puts on her brown skin first.