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Most Beautiful

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Finally, the long-awaited and greatly dreaded day had come. It was Friday – the day that the fourth grade was going on a field trip to the Science Center. The trip was all the students had been able to think about for the entire week.
Bobby, like the rest of them, was looking forwards to the trip, but he was also afraid of going on the trip. He was afraid that the other boys would find out his secret. When they asked him if he was excited, he told them that he couldn’t wait to see all of the spiders, but this wasn’t true. In reality, Bobby hated spiders. What he really loved were butterflies.
As the students got on the buses, all Bobby could think about was seeing the butterfly garden. He had heard that there were so many butterflies there, that you couldn’t even count them all.
A girl from Bobby’s class sat down in front of him. He immediately recognized her by the bejeweled hairpin on her head. Her name was Maria, and she was the most beautiful girl in Bobby’s school. Maria always wore butterfly hairpins.
When they got to the Science Center, the teachers assigned all the students into pairs, so that no kid would wander off on their own. When the teacher called his name, Bobby crossed his fingers and chanted the name “Maria” in his head over and over again. “Lauren.” Was the name called instead.
Bobby let out a disappointed breathLauren was a little weird, and she wasn’t Maria.
The pairs of students walked in a line through the hallways and from one room to another. The scientists started talking about bugs and Bobby almost forgot his misfortune in partners.
Then, finally, came the thing that Bobby had been waiting for – the butterfly room. It was the most amazing place he had ever seen. There were flowers and indoor plants everywhere, and small slices of fruit were laid on top of small tables. And the butterflies – they were everywhere. Everything that Bobby had been told was true. There were butterflies of every imaginable size and color, and there were too many of them to count. They were on the flowers and on the fruit and flying through the air.
The children were free to wander through the vast wonderland of the garden, as long as they stayed with their buddy. As Bobby was looking at a vibrant orange butterfly on a flower, something on the leaves caught his attention. It was a plump caterpillar with a shiny body that was colored similarly to Maria’s hairpin. Carefully, he plucked it off of the plant and held it in his open palm. Wouldn’t she think it was great that her pin looked like a real butterfly?
He was able to quickly spot her among the other students – she was the prettiest, after all. He started to walk towards her, but two other boys suddenly popped up beside him. He had to turn his back to Maria so he could stop for them. “Bobby!” one of them said, “Look what we found!” The second boy held up a small stick. Upon closer inspection, Bobby could see the small black spider dangling from a thread off the end of the stick.
“We thought you’d want to see it, since you love spiders so much.” The second boy said.
“I, um, uh -” Bobby stammered. The spider was tiny, but its grotesque legs looked far too big to him.
“What’s the matter? Can’t you see it?” the second boy asked, shoving the stick forwards towards Bobby’s face. Bobby could barely stand looking at the spider, so when it was so suddenly thrust closer to him, he went stumbling backwards until he knocked into someone, and the two of them fell to the ground.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Bobby’s face turned bright red when he saw that it was none other than Maria who he'd knocked over.
His mind reeled, and as he tried to apologize, Bobby remembered the caterpillar he was still holding in his hand. He held it out towards her and tried to smile. “Isn’t it pretty? Like the one in your hair?” he asked.
“Ew! Get that worm away from me!” Maria exclaimed as scrambled to her feet. “Why would you touch something like that? You’re such a weirdo!” And with that, she walked away.
One of the other boys started laughing. “Are you afraid of spiders, Bobby?” he asked.
“Let’s go put this in the teacher’s hair!” the second one exclaimed, and they left as well.
Bobby’s eyes started to sting. He’d made a fool of himself in front of Maria.
“Are you alright?” suddenly, Lauren was there, helping him to his feet. He tried to stammer some excuse, but he couldn’t think of any reason for why he’d been crying on the ground. Bobby moved to wipe the tears away from his eyes, but realized he was still holding the caterpillar.
Lauren plucked the little thing from his hand and held it up to her eyes for a better look. Then, smiling, she said, “Well, isn’t he cute!” Bobby could only muster a small smile in reply, but that was enough. “Come on!” she exclaimed, grabbing his hand, “Let’s go find some more!”
In the moment, Bobby forgot about Maria and about spiders. Because right then, he was holding hands with Lauren, and she was the most beautiful girl in the room.

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