Recently, I’ve started saving earthworms again. You know, the lost and dying kind that end up on pavements and paths, trying to squirm their way home. I always used to when I was a little girl – picking them up from concrete or pavestone (carefully, with a stick, so’s not to burn them) and putting them back on the nearest patch of cool earth where they belong. Watching as they wriggled home into the dark. Then, when I was 11, I watched a boy at school laugh as he trampled them into the ground. I couldn’t eat for 3 days after that. Soon after, I stopped picking them up, or at least I think it was then. Paralysed, a little lost – what good kindness, in the face of human cruelty? But just recently, I’ve been unable to walk by. Something in their pale, smooth pinkness – so utterly naked – reminds me unbearably of my own vulnerability, their helpless flickering back and forth a painfully obvious metaphor for what passes, these days, for my heart.

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