Once upon a time there was a man who intended to build a fence around his small country home. He forgot. So, once upon a time there was a girl lost in the woods. She didn’t know she was lost, yet.
As she came across different things, she picked them up, looked them over and left them where they were. It was dark by the time she realized she was lost, and she said it aloud.
“Oh, I am lost.”
To her surprise, the forest answered, “I will help you,” it said. The girl looked around, suspicious that the voice of the forest would be so small. And there she found a caterpillar. She picked it up.
“You will help me get home?” she asked. The caterpillar smiled.
“Of course, I know the way well,” it said, “but you must wait for me. Place me in that tree over there and wait for three days, but whatever you do, do not eat the fruit of the tree.”
The girl, already hungry, looked up at the fruit.
“Why not?” she asked.
The caterpillar latched itself to a low branch and replied, “when I come back, I will need to eat, if you take it, I will surely starve.”
The little girl nodded and waited for the caterpillar to cover itself in a thin white cocoon. Then, she slept. When morning came, she picked the tree clean of fruit and began her walk home. As she went, she found the things she’d observed along her path and soon, she was home. Her father was outside building a fence.
She went inside to her room and tucked away the fruit in a cupboard. Three days later, a butterfly perched on her windowsill. She went over to tickle its wings as she often did with butterflies. This butterfly however, shied away, angry.
“You stole all of my fruit!” it accused her. At this she went to her cupboard and produced the fruit for the butterfly, untouched. The butterfly looked from her to the fruit, confused.
“Why?” it asked.
At this the girl shrugged. “You said you knew the way, so either you were lying and then I would have a whole bundle of fruit to myself, or you were telling the truth and you’d find your way to me, at which point–” the girl held the fruit out to the butterfly. The butterfly took it, grateful and began to eat.
“But you were lost.”
The little girl watched out the window as her father sat next to a half-finished fence.
“Things are often lost before they are found, if they can help it,” she said. The butterfly thanked the girl once more and flew off, leaving behind a couple pieces of fruit.