Herbert and Leah

Herbert was his name. His wife I named Leah. Herbert and Leah, together forever.


I plucked them from the right side of our wooden porch one foggy afternoon. There were always interesting creatures hiding in the damp dirt there and, on days when I was especially bored, I spent hours on my knees discovering terrifying and tiny living things - the Earth and its wonders.


Herbert and Leah stirred a new feeling in me.


Their swerving paths of slime were both fascinating and disgusting. I was captured by the bobbing antenna, which whizzed around above their heads in strange individual orbits. Such odd bodyparts! Could I even call them bodyparts? They were unlike anything I had seen alive and moving before.


I loved them and I hated them and I decided to keep them.


The first trick was getting Herbert and Leah past my mother. She was hawkish and could sense a wrongdoing from a mile away. I decided on scooping them up and placing them both in my pants pockets, Herbert on the left and Leah on the right. I stood, turned, and plodded into the house looking as innocent as I possibly could. Once clear of my mother and her reading chair, I bee-lined for the kitchen to find some sort of house for my new friends.  A mason jar full of pennies called my name. I swiped it off the counter near the telephone and went straight to my room.


Something strange happened, though. I felt a wetness moving through the lining of my left pocket, slinking across my thigh. Unpleasant. I could see my door now.


I grasped the handle.


Turned.


The door clicked behind me.


Safety.


Wet, wet, what is this wetness?


I turned my pockets inside out.


It was Herbert.


Something must have upset him, for he was oozing foam.


I placed him in the cradle of my palm.


“It’s okay, Herbert. Calm down.” But Herbert would not hear me.


Foam shot from his bright green pores.


His antenna twitched and dove.


“Stop, Herbert!”


Foam, foam, foam!


How could this tiny creature make such a mess?


“STOP!”


Herbert wasn’t listening to me.

I was frustrated beyond belief. Why wouldn’t he just listen?!

I certainly could not put him in his mason jar in this state. He would ruin it all. He would fill the thing with foam, tarnish the pennies. My hand.


Ouch.


It stung.


“Herbert, what did you do to my hand?! What is this stuff?!”


Suddenly terrified, utterly betrayed, my hand stinging, I felt a hot rage rush through me. I rescued you, Herbert. I loved you. A new buzzing pain coursed through my hand.


He was poisoning me.


I inhaled and quickly made a fist, crushing little Herbert for hurting me.


I heard my breath now, loud and deep.


I turned my fist over, released my grip, and let little Herbert fall to the wooden floor.


Staring down at his alien mass, I felt a wetness moving through the lining of my other pocket, slinking across my thigh. Unpleasant.


Kristian Sorensen