It began when Mrs. Morrison gave me the meal worms. Every student in third grade got three. I named mine Ramesses, Thutmose, and Cleopatra. I thought of pharaohs when she gave us a dish full of crumbled Grape Nuts. The Grape Nut bits were cold and smelled like sawdust. They reminded me of sand, so I shoveled them all into pyramid shapes.
Every morning, first thing, we would file to the back of the class and take our trays. Then, we’d all write down our observations. At first, my meal worms didn’t do much. They didn’t even seem to eat their moldy bran flakes. Mostly I just poked them with the tip of my pencil. At best, they would squirm on the fat of their tails, scraping the lead with their tiny claws.
Then one morning they began to change. Cleopatra was the first. When I opened the dish, I noticed her face had turned bright green. Her body was an even brighter glowing green, and every now and then some egg-shaped bubbles pushed against her skin. I asked my teacher, “Is she pregnant? Is her skin supposed to do that?”
She barely even looked. “You need to focus on your work,” she said.
“I am!” I said, “I think she’s turning into something else.”
“Write that down in your notebook,” said Mrs. Morrison.
Soon all my worms were bright and green and pulsing. They tunneled through the pyramids and left a trail of something sticky. I scooped up a bit of the slime with my finger once. I almost screamed because I could see through my skin to the muscle and veins underneath. I drew a picture of my finger in my notebook. When I showed it to Mrs. Morrison, she made a face.
“What’s that?” she said.
“It’s my finger.”
“How did that happen?” she asked.
“It happened when I touched the slime.”
The recess bell rang. She said, “Get in line and stop worrying.”
When I returned to my desk, the meal worms were dead. They were rolled into strips of kleenex so they looked like little mummies. I placed them in the pyramids. I sealed them in with the muddy brown uneaten bran flakes. Don’t worry, I wanted to tell them, I won’t forget. But beginning that day, I had nothing to write in my notebook. After that, I just felt really stupid about the whole thing.
Copyright: © 2009 Meghan Lamb