The first chapter of a new book. Sebastian faces the same problem as many young people. He has been uprooted from his familiar home in Philadelphia and planted in rural Alabama.
A Worm in the Hand
"Cassie, put that stick down!"
Sebastian put down his colored pencils and tablet on the grass. He went to take another stick away from Cassie. His two-year-old sister was always putting sticks in her mouth. This time she had one half in her hand and one half in her mouth.
"Let me have the stick Cassie," Sebastian said calmly. He didn't want to scare her and have her start running with a stick in her mouth.
Cassie opened her small hand that held half a worm. She opened her mouth and showed him the worm's other end on her tongue.
Sebastian didn't mean to yell, but it was only natural. It was so disgusting!
Cassie's big brown eyes grew wide with fear. She started to cry with howls that frightened birds from trees. Cassie threw down the worm. Sebastian didn't see what happened to the piece on her tongue, but it was missing. Blech!
"I hope you didn't swallow it," he said in a soft voice as he patted Cassie on the back.
"What happened?" called his mother, running out the back door.
"Cassie ate a worm!"
Sebastian tried to sound calm about it, but it was hard. His stomach was feeling like warm Jello salad. He didn't even like his food touching on his dinner plate. Images of worms on his tongue were wriggling through his head. His lunch was trying to make a return visit.
"I'm sure it will be okay," his mother said, picking up Cassie. "Let's go brush your teeth," she cheerfully sang. As they begain to go in the door his mother turned, "Don't forget our drawings. It's starting to cloud up."
As Sebastian bent down to pick up his things he thought about the rain. He also thought about all the worms that would come out of the ground because of the rain. He decided brushing his teeth might banish the revolting images from his mind.
"What's for dinner?" Nick Bellopiedi called out as he came in the door.
"Very unfunny Mom," Sebastian called over to her. "You didn't see the worm in Cassie's mouth. Dis-gus-ting!" He was busy ripping lettuce for the salad. He carefully inspected each leaf for worms and bugs.
"What a shame. I was looking forward to fried worms with lots of garlic."
"How was the church today?" Sebastian asked.
His father removed the white piece of plastic from his shirt collar he replied, "Fine, we were able to start painting the classrooms today."
Sebastian's parents were starting a new Catholic church in this small Alabama town. His parents were missionaries of The Sacred Word. His dad a deacon, who had been sent to a county were there were no Catholic churches. Before the Bellopiedi family came, the twenty Catholic families had driven forty miles every Sunday to church. Together they had found an old beauty salon that they were turning into a church. The "classrooms" had been the manicure and hair washing rooms.
Sebastian thought of the smell of hair chemicals that hung around the building. He missed their old parish in Pennsylvania. It was a great old church with stained glass windows, statues, and a big choir every Sunday. Behind the altar stood a statue of St. Bartholomew. The statue of the apostle was half-naked, and you could see where he had been beaten. In one hand he held the knife which was used to to skin him alive. In the other hand he held his own skin. Now, that was a guys church!
The small beauty parlor just didn't measure up. Sebastian understood why coming to Alabama was important. He knew that his parents were doing an important job, but he still missed h is old home in Philadelphia. He missed his friends. He missed his old room. He knew he would miss his old school. There were lots of things he longed for. A super deluxe pizza from Frank's Pizzeria was one of them.
"Earth to Sebastian. Earth to Sebastian. Come in please."
"What? I didn't hear you Dad, what did you say?"
"I asked what you did today," his father said coming over and sitting next to him.
Shrugging, he mumbled, "Not much. There's not a whole lot to do around here."
"Did you ride your bike today?"
"Well, no. I was watching Cassie for Mom," he quickly pointed out. It wasn't like he had done nothing.
"I doubt if your mother had you do that all day long. After we eat, why don't you take your bike out for a ride? I've seen other boys riding their bikes at the park."
"Okay," Sebastian mumbled. He wasn't excited at the thought of meeting new people. He wanted to make new friends. He just didn't like the questions they always asked.
As if reading his mind, his dad patted him on the back, "It'll get better, I promise."