(a Spanish folktale)
Once upon a time, a butterfly flew across the sky, and every creature in the whole wide world looked up and admired her. She was beautiful, of course, but she was more than that. She was gentle, never intruding and never demanding. She flew far and wide, spreading her goodness everywhere she traveled.
This day she was searching for something special, for she had decided she was ready to marry. She wanted to lay eggs, to create more beauty in this world.
And so she sailed through the sky, in search of the perfect mate.
As the sun rose that morning, he saw the butterfly through his rays of light and his heart began to thump with joy. “Butterfly,” he said, “you are warm like me. Marry me, please?”
The butterfly fluttered her wings, and she smiled up at the sun. Like all the creatures of this Earth, she loved him, but she said, “Love you as I do, I’m afraid you’re not the one for me.” And with that she fluttered to Earth, landing on a lovely aster.
She bent low to drink the flower’s nectar, and as she did, the aster looked up at her and said, “You are sweet like me, butterfly. Marry me.”
The butterfly blushed and smiled. “Love you as I do,” she said, “I’m afraid you’re not the one for me.”
She took off and sailed into the sky and everywhere she flew, the creatures of this Earth looked up and called to her, “Marry me! Marry me!”
The lynx, the wolf, the bat, the deer — each one cried, “You are for me. Brave and wily, careful and kind.”
“I love you all,” she called to them, “but you are not the ones for me.”
She sailed over mountains, into valleys, across plains and lakes and rivers, searching and searching. Her heart thudded with longing and her wings were tired, but she was determined to find just the right one for her.
As the sun set and the moon rose, she smiled at the softer light, and the moon could not resist. “Butterfly,” he called, “just like me, you make everyone who sees you happy. Marry me!”
Again she smiled. “I love you,” she said, “but you’re always changing. One night you are vivid and bright, and the next you’re beginning to fade. Sometimes you disappear altogether, moon. I’m afraid you’re not the one for me.”
On she flew, and then at long last, just as she was crossing the River Zaragoza, she spotted him — a perfect butterfly, flying directly toward her. “Marry me, marry me,” he called to her, and his words reached her on the wind. “We have so much in common, we’ll live happily ever after, I promise!”
The butterfly had never felt so happy, and she agreed to marry him. That very day they held a wedding, and they invited every creature — mice and spiders, hedgehogs and sheep, wildcats and mountain goats. And each guest carried flowers to ensure an endless supply of nectar.
“To sweeten this day!” they cried.
The party was delightful. The happy couple drank nectar until they were bursting, and then the butterfly looked at her husband and said, “Can you go to the river to bring me some water? I need to wash down all this food.”
“Certainly,” he said, and off he flew.
As he was reaching out to fill a tiny buttercup, he lost his balance and fell into the water, and before he knew what was happening, a fish opened its mouth and swallowed him. One of the mosquitoes saw this, and he hurried to the wedding to give the news to the bride.
When she heard the fate of her brand-new husband, the butterfly began to weep. Soon word spread through the party.
Horrified by this news, the ladybugs began to fly in frantic circles over the river, searching for the fish that swallowed the butterfly. When the frogs saw the frenzy, they began to leap from leaf to leaf upon the water, and when the puffins saw their wild dance, they began to fly in circles, swooping low. The waterfowl began to cry, and all the noise echoed across the land. This woke the forest elves, who ran down to the river. When they saw the chaos, they too began to dance wildly.
When the deer saw this, they couldn’t help themselves. It was a sad day, true, but they began to laugh at the sight of these wild goings-on. Soon the sheep were laughing, and the beetles, too, and after that everyone began to laugh.
When he heard the noise above him, the fish that swallowed the butterfly leaped out of the water to see what it was. And when he saw, he opened his mouth so wide that the butterfly escaped.
When he saw his bride upon the bank, standing on a poppy and weeping and wailing, he flew to her side. “What’s wrong?” he asked gently.
She turned and looked at him, and her grief turned to happiness, and she began to laugh with joy. The butterfly and her husband lived happily ever after, and she laid many eggs. Those eggs turned into caterpillars, which turned into butterflies, and so the whole world was happier and more radiant because of the union of these two little insects.