Carlton the caterpillar loved to explore the branches of the trees, way up high. His days full of joy but like many a boy, he dreamed of the clouds in the sky. But unlike his friends, his dreams knew no ends and he couldn’t just settle for the sky. He dreamt of the stars twinkling way overhead and going very much higher. ‘Carlton’s Cosmic Dreams', his mother used to tease and everyone would laugh at the joke, but Carlton would pout for he didn’t enjoy the fun that his mother would poke. I’ll show you one day, to himself he would say, as he nibbled upon a sweet currant bun in his favourite tree where the breeze blew so free, lazing on a branch in the sun. There was talk in the town for the day had arrived when fireworks were let off in the park. There was joy all around and laughing like clowns for they just couldn’t wait for the dark. When night-time came and the sun had gone down, they gathered around on the green. Except Cosmic Carlton, our high flying friend, for he was nowhere to be seen. The fireworks banged and flashed and popped going on like they never would stop. Excitement was high, faces raised to the sky for soon the rockets would be up. Unbeknown to the crowd, who were cheering out loud, our Carlton was sat at the tip of a very large rocket, with hands in his pockets, waiting for the fuse to be lit. With a hiss and a fizzle, the rocket ignited and shot to the heavens above. Carlton held tight with all of his might and a pair of super-grip gloves. He blasted so high, up into the sky, that he screamed with joy and delight, but before the big show he would have to let go and begin his long return flight. He jumped with a yell and quickly, he fell through the sky amidst flashes and cracks. Multi-coloured stars where shooting and popping and one nearly shot up his back. But our friend didn’t mind for his dreams had come true, he was truly a cosmic explorer. Just wait till he told all his friends where he’d been, but the ground was getting much closer! He reached in his bag and gave a great tug so his parachute shot out overhead. It had taken him months to put it together out of tissues and bits of old thread. Slowly he sailed, heading back to the field for luckily the wind blew that way. He would soon be down in the middle of the crowd and, to his mates, he’d have so much to say. He had flown to the stars, in the big milky way, travelling as fast as a jet. All his friends gathered round in amazement and wonder, on this day he would never forget. * Written by Darren Scanlon, 28th April 2015. Revised 3rd April 2021. ©2021 Darren Scanlon. All rights reserved.