Superterranean Wormsick Blues

Earthworm, it was not always like this. When I was a tot we rubbed along very well – no, not literally (already you’re being gross). I would make mud pies and you would worm around below me, from time to time beside me. Yes, a comfortable and respectful proximity. We even had something in common: a love of sculpting soil. An occasional encounter was no cause for armpit-pricking panic… or wet-throated repulsion… or a one-legged jig accompanied by the sound ‘a-cha-cha-chaaarrrggghhh!!’.

Earthworm, my pink flip-flopping friend, I think it went awry aged five when I saw a few of your cousins in my poo. I didn’t tell anyone for *clears throat* ‘a while’ by which time a thriving nematode community had established itself in my intensely itchy but manifestly hospitable rectum. (Tell those guys to stay away from my kids by the way – unless they fancy the banana-flavoured dance with death again?)

Earthworm, this can’t go on. Did you tip off the maggots (hush now, earthworm! don’t bother me with trivial lifecycle details) about the bags of food waste/slime on the kitchen counter when Young Professional Me was engaged in a stand-off regards whose turn it was to feed the composter? Your silence on this, earthworm, speaks volumes.

Earthworm, this has to stop. Do not conspire with your sisters and brothers to throw yourself onto the concrete path at my feet (how?)… not in your mangled dozens… not in a manoeuvre timetabled to coincide with the peak of insufferable morning sickness… not to cause me to vomit a half-digested oatcake all over the nice sunshiny daffs edging the newly-refurbished playground in front of selection of families whose reaction, frankly, was unreasonably hostile by any measure.

Earthworm, it really is too much. Don’t dance like a tiny naked snake to attract my unremittingly inquisitive daughter’s attention causing her to pick you up and advance towards me like all of the Indiana Jones moments of high peril rolled into one horrendous living nightmare and have me screaming in the middle of static caravan park where people are really just trying to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet and a nice cup of tea and a scone.  

Look, earthworm. I was a ‘sustainability practitioner’ for cripes’ sake. I know something of the fundamental importance of soils, of your critical role in nourishing and maintaining them. I appreciate the graft of all that undulating and burrowing, the thousands of tiny channels you make enabling the aeration and drainage on which the soil depends – on which we all depend. You think I don’t wish I could see the beauty of your tube-within-a-tube bodies tirelessly pistoning away down there? (And, respect, coz I hear you really crank it up on the night shift.) So, yes, ‘go you’, ‘hats off’ and all that – actually hats on is something I’d really recommend in your case.

Don’t even think of dying of flattery though. Don’t die of anything in my vicinity. It’s a close call but a deceased worm – despite no longer enslaved to that hideous perma-death-throe writhing – just has the edge in terms of my disgust.

Certainly under no circumstances, earthworm, call round, having grown to badger-size. Don’t then thank me – kissing my hand with an ‘enchanté’ and a puckering of your urethral meatus mouth – like in a particularly realistic dream I may or may not have had at 5.28 a.m. on the twenty-second of October 2020.

Earthworm: under the garden gnome? …getting up close and personal with my spare keys like some sort of slimy hairless guard weasel? You’ve got to be kidding me. Use your brain, earthworm, it’s times like these when I have to remind myself you have one.

Most recently, earthworm: in the pot of a box-fresh houseplant? I have tried to be restrained, earthworm, but in this case – what the actual fuck? It’s a houseplant for inside. The least you can do is stick to your zone – despite the horror of urban sprawl you do still have a lot of the outside to play with.   

Earthworm, I am super grateful for all that you do and wish you only success in your endeavours but I must request that we stop meeting like this. Whilst I’ll concede that an injunction is impracticable, earthworm – for the love of all that is holey – please leave me the hell alone.

When all this over, and I am reduced to putrefying meat, then, sure, go nuts. Knock. Yourself. Out. Hey, once I’m subterranean feel free to explore all my orifices if you’re so inclined. Alternatively, you’re welcome to drop by towards the century’s end when I’ll be nothing but a small mud pie contemplating the advancing shoreline.  

Until then, earthworm, do we have a deal?

Lucy Goldring is a Northerner hiding in South West England. She has been shortlisted by the National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) three times and won Lunate Fiction’s monthly flash competition in 2020. Lucy was nominated for Best Small Fictions 2020 by both NFFD and 100 Word Story. Tweets @livingallover

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