Two children come to terms with what happened to their younger brother as Spring begins to raise its head.
“Only a while now ‘til we can see Mumu-chan again!”
My mum’s old bike rattles and clicks as we come off the car road. It’s my sister Hanako here who told Lina who told me about here, when I was younger. It’s here where we always meet Mumu-chan, the hairy brown caterpillar, every year during the early spring. She should be on this cherry tree right -
Stumbling off the bike, Hanako’s feet stomping slowly behind me.
“Don’t call it Mumu-chan, that’s kind of gross.”
Mumu-chan wriggles a little. Even though she can’t talk, I know she’s offended. I stretch up onto the edges of my boots toward her.
“Don’t you listen to Hanako. She’s just a big kid. No respect for people like you!”
Hanako’s quiet for long.
“Isn’t it too early for caterpillars to be out? It’s not even April yet…”
“Mumu-chan can do what she wants.”
I turn to smile at her but she’s shuffled down to my elbow.
“Oh, I need to tell you,”
Slapping through my bag (it’s so old now!), I finally find them. I throw them at her without letting go. Then, I suppose she can’t see very well, poor thing, so I let her nibble along one.
“Remember, I showed you my first lost tooth! Now I’ve lost .. 5?”
I count the tiny jewels in my pouch one two three four five six? seven? Aagain one two three four five six! seven! My little brother must have put them in… Genki. I haven’t seen him in a long time.? He’s good at hiding.
“Hey, Mumu-chan, have you seen Genki. I don’t think I’ve seen him for… 2, 3 weeks?”
Hanako’s a pickled plum.
“Don’t just talk about him like that! Don’t you understand what happened?”
I scrunch my brain together.
“Did he go to visit his dad again?”
She screams quietly and starts sobbing. He’s coming back soon, how silly… Suddenly, she is still.
“How about I introduce the concept to you, huh?”
A very strange smile is on her face.
“You know that… caterpillar you like so much? Mumu-chan? Well that”, she points at Mumu-chan, “Is not it! She-”
“Oh I’m sorry, you must be Mumu-chan’s husband!” I tell the caterpillar. “Can you tell me where-”
“She’s in the sky, Katsuko! Mumu-chan grew into a butterfly! Actually, she’s probably in heaven by now!”
“Mumu-chan became a butterfly? She flew? To heaven?” She’s even cooler than I thought!
“How do you not understand what I’m alluding to?”
“I don’t even understand what’s “alluding to”.”
“You - you really are an ignorant child!”
“Hey I’m in turtle year! I’m almost in primary school. You’re a child too, even if you’re in 5th grade.”
Hanako is quiet for a little while. She sighs and tilts her head up, leans against another tree.
“Let me just say, Genki won’t ever be in turtle year, or in Grade 5. It’s just you and me now.”
“He’s not coming back?”
“It’s like.. How Mumu-chan won’t be a caterpillar ever again.”
“Her time came.”
After some thought, I crouch down and look at the cicadas’ shells for a while, and Hanako peers at the flowers, sniffling. I stand up, surprising myself, and like a truck, hold her hand.
“I s’pose you’ll only have me too then.”
She smiles, a toad.
“Let’s go home.”
We kick onto our bikes and up we go as the first of the cherry blossoms tumble down around us.
Demiurge is an online platform open to all UWCSEA East students from Grades 5-12, where they can share and showcase their creative literary work.
The definition of 'demiurge' is 'a being responsible for the creation of the universe', and in Platonic philosophy, it means 'the creator of the world'. The name is a powerful symbol of how we can create our own worlds, particularly through fiction, and illustrates our belief that we are creating and changing different aspects of the world we live in through writing.
We welcome all kinds of literary submissions, from poems to flash-fiction to photos to theatre-scripts. Make a submission via our submission form.