A bucket of worms

Written in response to: Set your story during the night shift.... view prompt

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Friendship Kids Bedtime

Write a story about a team tunneling down into the center of the planet


Note: I accidentally deleted my story about the prompt above, so I am reposting it under this prompt.


On the Tuesday that was August 20th, we found a hole behind a tree.

It was a little hole under a big tree.  

The tree that was closest to the fence and farthest from the school.

It was decided the hole had been previously dug by the graduated 5th graders.

There were three of us gathered around the hole. 

It was now our responsibility. 

 

We'd been given a fantastic opportunity.  

It was up to us to act upon it.

We were going to dig to the center of the planet. 

That is, of course, the best use of a hole.


We all agreed to bring garden shovels on Tuesday. 

Garden shovels because full-sized ones are not allowed in school. 

We knew because we'd asked last year. 

...

A question.

One we answered in class on Monday.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

The center of the planet. 

Because that must be where the best things must come from.

That's where the three of us wanted to go. 


No one needs directions to get to the center of the planet, it’s easy to find. 

It doesn't matter where you started.

All you have to do is dig down.

Straight down until you find it.

The hard part is not getting distracted on the way down - that's why scientists hadn't made it down there yet; there are too many other interesting things to discover. 


We found the hole on Tuesday. 

And we knew what to do with it.

...

On Wednesday we put our shovels in the ground at the same time. 

At the same time so it wasn't unfair.

Ben was the one who got to count down. 

Carter and Ben wanted to dig for the rest of recess,

I got to brush away invading ants. 


We found a centipede and counted the legs to make sure. 

Once the dirt got soft we found a worm.

When we measured the hole with my arm, it went up to my elbow. 

After that, the pile of earth excess got too big.   

So we moved it. 

And took a break for apple juice. 

It would take a while to get there.  

In between, we would need breaks. 

That's why Carter made us a schedule. 

He’s smart so he knows what order to put them in. 


Simple and short, to be sure.

But the best ones always leave room for detail.


Day 1: Bring shovels to dig the hole deeper. Also, clean out the worms. 

Day 2: China - run across Great Wall. 

Day 3: Egypt - climb pyramids

Day 4: Mexico - seashells from beach.

Day 5: South Africa - elephants.

Day 6: Australia - find a big spider. 

Day 7: Center of the planet. 


Carter said if we go somewhere new every day we will end up in the center of the world. 

Ben thinks it's a good plan. 

And I think so too. 

I wore my 3rd favorite shirt on Thursday. 

It’s 3rd because it has a green dinosaur on it.

If it was orange I would like it more.


We returned to the big tree.

But the hole was no longer little.

It was the start of a tunnel.

A tunnel that would take us to the center of the world.


With the ground over our heads, everything was still; muted.

As if the small noises of life were erased. 

We liked it down there, with the silence.

With the smell of soil and closeness of dark brown walls. 


We had a system: Carter in the front digging forward, Ben behind him making space on the sides for us to walk, and me in the back with a bucket. 

My bucket was orange and I carried the dirt Carter and Ben threw behind them. 

 

I found 7 more worms.

I liked them and didn’t think they would want to be left behind. 

So I had them in the bucket with the dirt. 

 

We spent 8 hours digging that day.  

It was almost 9 hours when Carter said we were in China. 

Ben said all he could see was dirt. 

The reason for this, of course, was that we still had to remove the last wall of dirt. 

And we did. 

 

With the sun overhead, we saw everything. 

The Great Wall of China. 

Which was everything we could see. 

 

We’d found its picture in a history book.

That’s how we knew it would be a good place to stop on our journey. 

In front of us, it was tall.

The picture had made fit inside a book. 

We all liked the tall one better. 

Carter thought we should race.

Ben said the first one to make it to the end won. 

I told them I’m going to win because I’m faster than they are. 

 

And I ran to the end of the wall on two legs.

Two legs that didn’t give up when they got tired.  

...

We had to go home after that. 

We agreed to get to school early and keep going down the tunnel. 

Since I won the race I got to be in front of the line. 

Ben ended in last place so I made him carry my bucket and my worms. 

He liked the worms. 

He named all 7 of them. 


My teacher told me Egypt was in the east.

So I knew where to go. 

I’m a fast digger.

That’s how we got there in 7 hours. 

Carter said he didn’t care that I’m faster at everything but he definitely did. 

 

And we saw the pyramids.

They met the clouds as if to bridge earth and sky.  

Both dust and sand flaked off the blocks on touch.

A strange indication of their worn age. 

The more immense the blocks of stone got, the more we found in common with ants. 

We had to go back every day for school and to sleep.

But we always came back the next day.

To start where we’d left off. 

In our tunnel, we got acquainted with several burrowing insects and animals. 

Sometimes we would stop to draw the particularly strange ones. 

 

And we went to Mexico.

Mexico where we collected seashells.

Where we rediscovered colors. 

We rode elephants in Africa.

Elephants whose feet were flat.

Whose steps shook the ground. 

 

Our last stop was ambiguous. 

A word whose meaning we had learning personally. 

With the spiders in the tunnels growing larger, we reached Australia.

Our last stop. 

 

There were kangaroos.

And jellyfish that only looked peaceful. 

We found a Goliath spider; as big as our hands. 

I decided that they are not my favorite animal. 

On the Thursday that was August 29th, I wore my second favorite shirt. 

It was a picture of a worm eating a book. 

My first favorite I carried in my bucket. 

That shirt had my name written in orange. 

On that day we made it to the center of the world. 

And it was just as incredible as we believed it would be. 

It is the place where only imagination dares to go.

 

The birthplace of inspiration.

All that was to see, to hear, was in the subtleties.

It was in the empty spaces.

It was in the rhythms and patterns.

And it was so quiet down there. 

As if in suspension. 

 

The air knew how to sing without making any noise. 

The dewdrops knew how to fall without splashing.

The flowers knew how to grow without the sun. 

The soil knew how to erase our footsteps. 

 

Colors or all shades an eye can see and those it can't.

Chorusing sounds making the loveliest music.

The brightest water running over the smoothest rocks.

The three of us, the first to appreciate it all.

I left my bucket at the center of the world. 

With the 7 worms and my favorite shirt. 

It had my name written in orange.


August 31, 2021 15:37

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