“Oh my gosh, Adelmira. You are a wolf now.”
She grinned and I half expected to see the worm crushed against her gums, growing eyes and smiling. Hello, executioner. In half and still alive.
“Ok, Adelmira, now you have to bury this one.”
I was still holding the tail and the body was wriggling. This was my fascination. It moved.
“It’s moving!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, it’s still alive. Worms can live like that. The other half is alive inside of you.”
Her eyes were big but she took the other half gently. She held it up to examine it writhing in the wind.
“Do worms feel pain?”
I laid each one neatly in a row on my picnic table.
“Answer me, worms, do you feel pain?”
I began to shake the can.
“Does he feel it?”she asked me.
“The worm? It’s not a boy, it’s nothing, it’s a hermaphrodite.”
“What does that mean?” she asked still holding the worm in the air
I giggled, “It means it’s both. It has sex with itself.”
Her eyes got wider. I said the word ‘sex.’ Not as bad as the time I accidentally said “fuck” when the VHS tape would’t work in front of my mom. I learned it from Dad. She giggled too and then we both laughed uproariously in synch like this was just so easy and normal and good. Friendship that is. If only it were always like this.
I pointed to the spot right in front of her.
“In you and in the ground. Here i’ll help.”
I scooted forward on my knees feeling the thread stretch, my knee raw from the constant kneeling in the dirt. I took both hands and formed a claw movement and stuck my fingers in first then pushed down to get my palms in and tore up a huge chunk of dirt and grass. The soil near the water was always soft. I knew we’d see other worms, rollie-polies, maybe some beetles. Excited to show off this micro world, I tossed the dirt to either side of me and nodded my head in the direction of the hole. Five worms wriggling and a millipede.
“I ate one of those before.”
She nodded towards it without saying anything.
“That one,”I pointed to the millipede. “It tasted like dirt.”
“So did the worm.”
“Shh!” I held my dirty finger up to my mouth. “He can still hear you! Oops I mean IT can still hear you!”
We laughed together and she held the worm higher in the air, peering up at it above her, squinting.
She dropped it without looking. I leaned forward, both my hands and knees on the ground, mouth open. It landed in the center and the millipede sped up, heading towards the grass towards Adelmira. I became mezmerized by its movement. What do giants look like? It rushed into the blades, into some hidden hole or place. What do giants look like, insect? I held the millipede in my palm before I brought him to my mouth.
“Cool,” I heard her and turned my eyes back to the half eaten worm.
We watched for a few moments in silence as it wriggled, missing pieces surrounded by whole worms and cool earth.
“Bury it,” I said.
And she did as she was told.