Monday, January 15, 2007

Ernie

Before the wind turned icy and the roads turned slick, I took a walk around in the drizzly grey weather. As I strolled down the slick sidewalk, I saw an earthworm who had crawled up from the ground and was sitting in a patch of clovers. He looked quite confused. He heard my footsteps and looked up at me.

"Excuse me," he said. "Do you have an umbrella?"

"Well, yes I do," I said. "Only I'm afraid it is much too big for you."

"Drat," he said. "Do you know where I could find an umbrella?"

"I'm afraid I don't," I said. "All the umbrellas I know of are for people, not earthworms. Why do you need an umbrella?"

"Why do you need one?" he responded snottily.

"Because it's raining," I said.

"That is precisely the reason I need an umbrella," he said. "I'm quite sensitive to the rain."

"Oh," I said, very confused. "But you live underground. The rain must make it easier for you."

"Easier?" the worm said, sounding annoyed. "Easier? You try trying to crawl through mud with water droplets pounding on your head incessantly. You've got a massive headache, you can't feel where you're going and you're being washed away or drowning in a giant flood. Right, that's a lot EASIER."

"Well how is an umbrella going to help you with all that?" I asked, annoyed as well.

"It will protect my head and help me see." the Earthworm said smugly.

"See?" I asked, staring at the pompous blind worm who was staring up at me.

The worm sighed, as if I was an idiot. "I know where to go because the tiny hairs on my skin sense where the dirt is, where the rocks are and if there's a stick in my way," he said. "I absorb the nutrients in my skin, so I can always tell where I am. The closer I get to buildings, for instance, the worse the nutrients are. As long as I can see, I'm ok. The raindrops throw off my vision."

"Oh," I said. I wasn't quite sure what I was to do with this earthworm. "Would you like an acorn top for a hat?" I asked. "It's not an umbrella, but it would protect your head."

"That's actually a brilliant idea!" the Earthworm cried, looking pleased. "Would you mind getting me one so I could try it?"

I picked up an acorn top of the ground and placed it on his tiny pink head. He beamed up at me.

"This is wonderful!" he said. "I'm so delighted. Am I not the cutest thing you've ever seen?"

"Sure," I said, not wanting to break his wormy little heart. The small pink worm in his over-sized acorn hat then wriggled back into the ground, with only his tail sticking out of the mud.

"Oh!" he cried out over his shoulder. "My name is Ernie by the way. It was nice meeting you giant! I hope to see you again soon! I'll probably need a new hat shortly- spring is coming!"

I grinned. "I'll save you some acorns," I promised. And with that, his little pink tail disappeared into the mud, leaving only silence and a naked acorn in his path.