Adam the Earthworm was a worm, at least until the day he became two worms. What happened was that Monk Kennedy, when he was digging up his counterfeit money at the side of Conor Murphy’s barn, sliced Adam in half with his shovel. He didn’t know he was doing it when he did it. The worm never knew what hit him. When it happened, even though he didn’t have ribs to speak of, the two new parts of him became two Eves, Edwina and Edith.
He took a deep breath, breathing through his skin, and tried to make the best of it. He didn’t have lungs. His breathing was shallow getting over the shock. Adam’s body was a cylindrical tube-in-a-tube. His face looked the same as his rear end. He didn’t have arms or legs. All worms have both male and female genitalia. He was a rain worm. He thanked his lucky stars he wasn’t an angleworm, which are used as fishing bait. In any case, his one-man worm days were over.
Times could get tough for worms in an instant. Everybody remarked about the good luck of the early bird but never the bad luck of the early worm. The early worm gets eaten. Their one consolation was that God gave every bird its worm, but at least didn’t throw it into the bird’s nest. Their other consolation was that worms were going to inherit the earth. The unbroken circle was worm to frog, frog to snake, the snake to pig, pig to man, and all men and women, sooner or later, back to worms.
Edwina and Edith tried to thank Monk, but the words wouldn’t come. By the time they did, Monk was gone. They looked around for him, wanting to wave goodbye, except they didn’t have eyes to see or hands to wave. They wiggled greetings to each other and began to burrow back into the ground. It was what they did best. They squinted, the morning light hurting their eyes.
They didn’t have eyes, but they could sense light, especially at their front end. They might become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long. It was bad enough that rats, toads, and birds were always eating them. There were up to a million of them in every acre of land. By Adam’s calculations there were about one trillion four hundred billion worms on Prince Edward Island, plus one more now that he had been split into two. Nothing was going to eat them all anytime soon. Besides, they were good for the island’s well-being. He didn’t understand why they didn’t rule the world.
They tunneled into soil and brought subsoil closer to the surface mixing it with topsoil. Their slime contained nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for plants. The sticky slime helped to hold clusters of soil particles together in a form called aggregate. It was hard work, straining their five hearts, but since they breathed through their skin, they never ran out of breath. They were always eating and digesting most of their body weight every day.
When Edwina and Edith joined the worm world they joined a world that was older than dinosaurs, who were around 230 million years ago before a giant asteroid put them out of commission. Worms went back 600 million years. The giant asteroid might have killed all the giant dinosaurs, but the little worms shrugged it off.
“Did you know the famous scientist Charles Darwin spent almost 40 years studying worms ?” Edith asked Edwina.
“No, I didn’t know that,” Edwina said. “Why did he spend so many years studying us? I mean, we are as simple as raisins.”
“It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures, the worms,” Charles Darwin said.
“Lowly? I resent that,” Edwina said. If he had still been alive, she might have sent her South African cousins after him. They could grow to be as long as 22 feet long. Charles Darwin would have to take the “lowly” crack back or the big squeeze would be coming his way.
Worms weren’t the fastest things on Prince Edward Island. They had to wiggle like crazy to get anywhere. They were just about the slowest moving things on the island. They could go as far as 150 feet a day if they kept it up all day. No worm did that. They stopped to eat and defecate all the time. They stopped to rest and talk all the time. They stopped to look around. When the two Eves did, poking up out of the ground, they saw a storm coming in. It looked like a whopper of a storm.
Rain hitting ground usually made worms think moles were after them. When that happened they made a beeline for the surface. But they were on the surface of the ground already, so they weren’t worried about any moles. When soil got soaked was when it was migration day for worms. A soaking rain enabled them to move gracefully over the ground. Edwina and Edith slithered to the crest of the sloping croplands. From there they had a good view. They looked down on Murphy’s Cove, where waves were hurling and breaking themselves to pieces on the shore. The sky was half-dark in the middle of the day.
“I hope the man who made us what we are doesn’t get wet on his motorcycle,” Edwina said.
“Some men ride in the rain, others just get wet,” Edith said mysteriously.
“Rain is wet, but who am I to judge?” Edwina said.
“I wonder what kind of man our man is?” Edith asked.
“I think he is going to be a wet and cheerless man soon enough,” Edwina said as rain began to fall.