SHOOT THE CHUTE

Sammy the Worm lived in the flower garden under the birdbath in back of the Cunninghams' home. It was just a hole in the ground, but Sammy loved it. He loved the way he could slide down to his living room on days after it rained. He loved curling into an "O" in front of the fire on frosty winter evenings. And most of all, he loved to snuggle in his warm, dirt bed. He'd lie in it and dream about all the things Up There.

Up There was where they lived. Loring and Clara, the humans. That's what most everybody but Sammy called them. He called them "Longies,' because he thought they looked like super-long worms--"Longies," for short. Except Loring and Clara had arms and legs. Oh, he wished he had arms and legs! There was just so much more you could do with them. Like scratch your head. Or run like a rabbit. Or hop from one foot to the other. Heck, Sammy didn't even have a foot to hop to!

All he could do was inch. And inching was so slow! Sammy did stretching exercises to lengthen his body so he could go faster. "You know inchworms?" he said to his father. "Well, I'm going to make myself into a foot worm!"

"Why stop at that?" his father replied. "Make yourself into a yard worm, then you could really go places!" Sammy's father loved to tease. But just because he didn't want arms and legs, didn't mean Sammy didn't.

One day when Sammy was inching along the Cunninghams' back porch, he heard crying. And crying meant tears and tears meant water and water meant some slick-sliding possibilities, like scudding across the porch on your tail, and you didn't need arms and legs to do that! He was just reaching a particularly inviting pool of tears when Clara suddenly said, "Look, a worm!," and picked Sammy up before he could squiggle away.

Sammy was lying in the palm of a Longie! What if Clara squeezed him-- and he shot right out of her fist?! What if she clapped her hands-- and he was in-between them?! What if she suddenly decided to go fishing-- and he was the bait?!

So Sammy did what every worm does in a tight squeeze: he started to wriggle. And Clara started to giggle. And the more he wriggled, the more she giggled. Wriggle-giggle- giggle-wriggle-giggle!

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