BELLIFLIES

Because Sammy the Worm had made them laugh in the first days of their parents' divorce when they had wondered if they'd ever laugh again, Loring and Clara would rush to find their new friend each time they visited their father. They discovered all kinds of games worms and Longies could play together, including Roll-The-Sammy, in which Sammy curled up like a bowling ball and the girls rolled him between them, and Bounce-A-Worm, in which Sammy lay on the trampoline and one girl bounced him high while the other tried to catch him.

One bright and summery day, however, they found a different worm in the garden, one wearing wire-rim glasses and a tiny, green, oak-leaf apron around his middle. He was lying on his back, sweeping dirt away from his wormhole with a dandelion broom.

"Why would anyone sweep dirt away from a dirt hole?" wondered Loring. Clara, more inclined to action than words, thrust her face next to the worm's to find out. "Who're you, and what are you doing?" she demanded.

Far from being startled that a Longie would speak to him, the worm (who was actually Sammy's father) put down his broom, dusted himself off, and began to present himself. "I'm Mr. Sammy-" he began. But that was as far as he got.

"You must be Sammy's father!" shouted Clara.

"I most certainly am," he began again. "I'm Mr. Sammy-"

"Loring, look, it's Sammy's father, Mr. Sammy!" Clara interrupted again.

"Actually, my full name is-"

"Glad to meet you, Mr. Sammy," said Loring, and stuck out her hand to shake.

There was an awkward pause during which Loring and Sammy's father both wondered how to shake hands if one of you doesn't have a hand to shake with?! Finally, he stood on his head and offered Loring his tail. She stood on her feet and offered him her index finger. Sammy's father wrapped himself around it, and finger and worm moved gently up and down together, creating, perhaps, the world's first wormshake. And in the confusion of the moment, Sammy's father never did get to tell them his full name.

When Clara tried a wormshake, she shook Mr. Sammy so hard he felt like he was riding a bucking beetle in the wormeo-- which the brave worm had once tried in his younger days. He was just wondering if this would also end with him flying into the wild blue yonder when Clara whipped her finger particularly hard and the wormshake ended with Mr. Sammy flying into the wild blue yonder.

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