The Inchworm and the Donut Hole
By Colleen Chen
Once upon a time there lived a brave inchworm named Inchabod. He was in love with another inchworm named Wormette. But Wormette was a little bit snooty, and even though she liked Inchabod well enough, she wanted him to prove his love to her. "You can perform a task for me, like suitors used to do when they courted princesses," she said. "After all, you look like any other inchworm. What is there to show me you deserve me more than any of the others?"
Inchabod wanted to protest that his love for her was far greater than that of any of the other ants. But he loved her too much to argue, and he simply said, "Very well. What do you want me to do?"
"Fetch me a donut hole from the Smiths' Sunday pastry basket," Wormette said.
Inchabod's heart sank. The Smiths were the humans who lived in the great house under which Inchabod's colony lived. In order to get a donut hole, he'd have to travel a long distance over ground and up a kitchen cabinet, withstanding the temptation of insect bait put out to poison them and avoiding being seen by any animal or human. And even if he could successfully reach the pastry basket, how would be be able to lift such a heavy object and bring it to Wormette intact? It was a mission beyond reason. He opened his mouth to tell her so. Then his eyes fell on the the proud curve of her that undulated from one sweet segment to the next, the shy shade of green that seemed to hint at passion. Determination filled him.
"I will not disappoint you," he said.
It was only Monday, so Inchabod had six days to wait until the Sunday basket came. He prepared by meditating, working out, moving long distances and lifting the heaviest stones he could find. In between his frenzy of activity, though, he wept. He simply didn't believe he could achieve the monumental task Wormette had laid upon him.
At dawn on Sunday morning, Inchabod was off, thrusting the skin of his belly forwards and pulling the rest of his body after it. He left the safe confines of the underground colony and entered the house through a crack in the floor. An enticing smell beckoned him from the right; he ignored it and instead focused on the pastry basket up on the kitchen table. Several children were there, grabbing croissants and Danishes out of it. Inchabod jumped in between two floorboards right as one of the children came pounding across the kitchen.
"Whew! That was close," Inchabod panted.
He got to the table leg and began the arduous climb. Skin forwards, hauling the body up, again and again. All his legs were trembling by the time he got to the top. He waited there, just under the rim of the table, for a moment when the family would leave the room. He prayed that it would happen before everything in the basket was taken. Maybe there would be no donut holes left by the time he got there! Would Wormette accept something else? a chocolate croissant, a heart-shaped sugar cookie? He thought of her scornful, beautiful face. No, it was a donut hole or nothing.
The remaining children went outside then, laughing, screaming, pushing. Inchabod looked around--the coast was clear. He clambered over the edge of the table and made it to the basket.
There was one lone donut hole sitting at the bottom of the basket. Powdered sugar was dusted all over its golden brown surface. How was Inchabod going to get it out and across the floor? Approaching the donut, he tried to move it. It was too heavy. He hit it in frustrated anger--it would not move. Finally he sank down, sobbing, defeated.
He only opened his eyes when he sensed someone watching him. It was a beautiful inchworm fairy, with glowing wings of iridescent blue-green and a wand that looked like a blade of grass. "Why are you sad?" she asked as she hovered there.
Inchabod told her his story.
"Such courage as yours only deserves to be rewarded, Inchabod," said the fairy. She waved her wand. The donut hole rose in the air and flew out an open window. "Your ladylove will get her donut hole."
"Thank you, oh thank you!" Inchabod said, undulating his segments in gratified delight.
"You more than deserve her...just make sure she deserves you too," said the fairy, and she flew away.
Inchabod couldn't wait to get back. He rushed down the table leg, across the floor, and through the crack to get back to the colony.
Wormette was there, eating her donut hole. Her pretty face was covered with powdered sugar--and another inchworm was sitting next to her, licking it off!
"What's going on?" Inchabod cried, bewildered. "I got you your donut hole...I accomplished your task, proved my love..."
Wormette rolled her eyes. "Whatever, Inchabod. It was Inchzak here who got the donut hole for me. I was sitting here waiting all morning long, and just when I was going to give up on you, Inchzak came rolling the donut along."
Inchabod felt sick. He looked at the pair in front of him and suddenly could see how faithless and fickle Wormette was. She and Inchzak deserved each other. He was just thankful he discovered it before he actually got involved with her!
"I'm happy you discovered that," a voice said behind him. He turned. It was the inchworm fairy. She had doffed her wings and held out a slender front leg. Inchabod took it, feeling his heart opening once again as they walked off together, basking in the sweetness of life and love.