The classic question of The Caterpillar. Blue as his blood, shades of indigo and robin’s egg swirl in mismatching spots up his back. His haughty nose turned up to the sky is the color of ink, nostrils flared. The only think cutting through the sweet-smelling smog he wafts through the forest is his piercing eyes. He asks it with a sneer.
“Who. Are. You?”
It’s hard to stand tall when you’re only nine inches high. And with his throne of fungus and weeds towering above you feel even smaller. Speaking only comes out in coughs as your lungs burn. His hookah sits firmly next to him, puffing perforated sludge into him, billowing from the corners of his lips. He looks like a dragon.
Are you deaf girl!?” He snaps “I said Who. Are. You?”
There is so much noise in each silence he takes between words. A paragraph of insults and spite loaded in each period, drenching in disgust. Finally, you just snap.
“I’m me dammit!” The Caterpillar is taken aback. You also surprise yourself. It’s never sounded so confident. So much control into two words you’ve said over and over to try and appease the storm in your head. You repeat yourself.
“I’m me! I’m nobody else and I’m certainly not you! So, deal with it! I. Am. Me.” Despite them watering, your eyes stare back at his in a new defiance. His demeanor has changed. A once puffed chest was now deflated, pushing smoke out in much larger doses. His multitude of wriggling feet twitch and scurry against the harsh top of the mushroom.
It was now you who turned up your nose.
“Now it’s my turn to ask: Who. Are. You?” He stumbles, words tripping on his tongue. He inhales more of the hookah, the air becoming thicker and thicker in a cloud of purple and blue. It dissipates, and what’s left in your wake is a hollow skin and empty shoes.
You jut out your chin, hold your head high, and smile. Nine inches feels a lot taller now.