DON'T SAVE THE WORMS

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Oak street consisted of towering trees, dropping their branches down to gently touch the houses below. Today, the branches were dripping with rainwater, and a touch of loneliness. Stepping around the puddles, Lee saw another kid walk from the bus stop. His name was Danny, and he usually never paid any attention to anyone other than Tom- or rather he used to, before Tom moved. Our neighborhood probably seemed emptier than ever, although to me, it seemed just the same. I can’t say that I’m friends with many neighborhood kids--or any at all, really. I’ve tried making friends--but Gertrude and Patricia Belkin did not take well to that. I’ve just gotten used to this empty neighborhood. Swish swish, my hopeless pant legs could not escape all the puddles. I gave up on avoiding them, and decided to tiptoe around the dead worms instead. Maybe I should talk to Danny…
“Hi, Danny”
“Hey, Lee,” he said, grimacing at the ground.
“What’s that face for?”
“There are too many dead worms here, and I don’t like walking on them”
“Yeah, I try not to step on them if I can. They’re all squishy and wet and weird. I don’t like them--they’re gross.”
“I wouldn’t say they’re gross. They’re not that bad.”
“Well, it’s gross when they are all dead, lying on the road.”
“That one’s not dead,” he pointed to a worm to my left.
With my bare hands, I picked it up off the pavement and set it on the grass.
“Huh, and you thought they were gross?”
“They’re not that bad…”
We saved every single worm we saw on the way back to our houses, and it was the most fun I’ve had all week. Who would've thought picking up slimey worms was enjoyable? Every day that it rained, we would always save the worms, but we had to hurry--to save as many as we could before the Belkin sisters came. Yup, the Belkins--believe me, I’ve long since given up on trying to be friends with them. Patricia and Gertrude Belkin hated worms--but they really hated me. They were in Middle school, and their bus came ten minutes after the Elementary bus. Danny and I were only in fourth grade, but we had the advantage of time. Most days, we would rescue all the waterlogged survivors before the Belkins arrived. When they came, they stomped around in their pink rainboots, flattening anything on the ground. They never looked to see if the worms were dead or alive--it didn’t matter, as long as they could stomp them in front of us.


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SAVE THE WORMS
Fellow neighbors of oak street, you are invited to a worm hunt this Sunday at 2:00 pm. The forecast is rainy, which is perfect weather for our worm hunt. Bring umbrellas, raincoats, ponchos, or anything else you may need. Meet at house 113.
Lee Arnek
______________________________________________________________________

The first worm hunt ever. Maybe this neighborhood won’t feel so lonely after all. I placed one invitation in each mailbox, but made sure to skip the dark, rusty one labeled Belkin. Those brats will probably find out anyway, but they won’t have an invitation. I started the long walk back to my house, and found myself glancing back at the one empty mailbox. The dark, dark mailbox. I tore my eyes away from it and to distract me, started searching to see if Danny was home. His yard was occupied by two boys. One that I assumed to be Danny, and a little kid I did not recognize. I waved to them, but only Danny seemed to see it.
“Hey Lee! I got the invite!”
The small boy looked puzzled.
“Good,” I yelled.
“What invite?” the boy asked Danny.
Danny stood there, not knowing what to say.
I rushed over into Danny’s yard. I must have forgot a house, but I had extra invitations. 
“Here, kid,” I handed him an invitation.
“Thanks.”
“What’s your name?”
           “Aldrich Belkin, but everyone calls me Al.”
“Oh… uh, well nice to meet you,” I tried to hide my shock. “I’m Lee… Lee Arnek, uh--It’s about time for me to go, actually. My mother wants me home soon, but nice seeing ya.”
We said goodbye and I went home. Apparently, the Belkins have a brother--and now, an invitation.
Sunday afternoon, at 1:58 pm, I waited for neighbors to show up. Danny did, of course. He said that Al had a dentist appointment. I didn’t really care. I knew that someone would come, and I’d make a friend--or two… or three? We waited for half an hour longer for kids to show up, but no one did. I called off the hunt.
“We could still go on the hunt,” Danny said.
“Sorry, but I’m not quite up to it now...”
“Alright. See ya, then.”
Danny walked back to his house, but I just stood in my place. There had to be at least forty people in our neighborhood, and no one showed up for the worm hunt. No one. Not a single person. This neighborhood is bound to feel empty--or at least to me. I turned to go inside. Whirrrrl, SMACK! SMACK! I whipped around, covered in goo, to see the Belkin sisters four feet away, pelting me with eggs.
“FEED THESE EGGS TO YOUR WORMS!”, Gertrude yelled.
I raced to the side of my house and grabbed the gardening hose. I flicked the setting to full power, and aimed at the girls.
“ARRRGGG! Gertrude! Move!”
Gertrude had shoved Patricia in front of her, as a human shield from the water. They started shoving and kicking each other, not letting the other sister escape.
“NO! YOU MOVE!”
“I’M GETTING SOAKED!”
“BETTER YOU THAN MY SHOES!”
Patricia tripped Gertrude, and started running away from my lawn. Gertrude stuck out her tongue at me, and ran off after her sister. Ha, those dumb Belkins. I went inside to wash the eggs off. From my light hair to my sneakers, I was covered in goo.
My mom was not pleased by the fact that I was home late. Somehow, she didn’t seem to notice I was covered in eggs. 
“Did you have fun with some friends?”
“Um, no… not really…”
Once I cleaned myself up, we were off to a gardening shop to buy some potting soil. We were also given a free information guide, and it had quite an interesting section on worms. It said that you didn’t need a whole lot of ‘em to improve a garden, you just need a couple to get the job done.
I spent the rest of the evening playing with Danny and Al. I forgot about the worms, and the others didn’t seem to mind. Helping Danny weed his garden was way more fun than saving worms. Al is a pretty good kid, despite his evil sisters--evil step sisters, ironically. With a garden as nice as Danny’s, with a couple worms in the dirt, it was hard to imagine that the neighborhood had ever felt lonely.






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