I overheard them talking. “Just look at that worm,” said the snake. “Grovelling in the mud, sniffing around that poor tree’s roots. I swear, the world is falling apart when we have to associate with that trash.”

Then there was a dog. “I just hate those uppity cats,” said one. “They walk around with tails in the air as if they had something to feel big about. Makes me sick.”

Worms talk about snakes, too. They take careful note of the snake’s unsavory character. The coyote, north and south, holds the tick in contempt. Horses sneer at the dumpy washerwoman nature of cow. But cows don’t care, nosiree, because they don’t get ridden with spurs and whips.

“They have to make themselves feel important,” said the mosquito of the butterfly. “But they ain’t nuthin, just airheads in drag is all. They never taste blood, and they don’t risk death for the proud Mosquito Empire!”

Another voice came in that I couldn’t identify. It actually changed depending on the words, said something about being one of them when it wanted to be. “You can play King of the Hill,” it said, “because I let you. I am the tiger!” Then it changed, it had even more of a thrill in it. “I am the leaf, the log! The virus, the Whale! I’m the single cell, the principle that lets you live, I’m the dynamite blast that set the double helix in motion!” It chuckled, then said, “When I give the word, you all crumble into dust!”

No one heard me except a pale, cowardly, fragile intestinal tract trembling in the underneath, the first man. He’s my favorite. All the rest hate him, he reminds them of what they aren’t. The only one that heard me, yes. But even he forgets sometimes.

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