Written by K. G. McAbee
Illustrated by J. A. Johnson
It was a Friday afternoon and Wire Dog could hardly wait until Ellen got home from school. Of course, he was always happy when Ellen came home from school every day, but Friday was special because Friday started what Ellen’s Mom and Dad called the ‘weekend’. Wire Dog wasn’t quite sure what a week was, or why it ended, or even when it began; all he knew was that a weekend meant two whole days with Ellen at home with him, instead of off all day at school.
Not that he wasn’t interested in school; no sir! It sounded wonderful to him when Ellen talked about school. She spent hours and hours with other children, learning things like math and science and history. Wire Dog wasn’t quite sure what history was, but he knew about math. One dog treat plus one dog treat added up to two treats, which was good. If he started with three treats and he ate three treats, he had zero treats. This was bad.
So school sounded like a useful sort of place…especially the part about spending time with lots of other children, since Wire Dog, being a dog even though he was made of wire, thought spending time with children was the best thing anyone could imagine.
Wire Dog began to wag his tail even before Ellen got off the bright yellow school bus, and when she did, oh my! Wire barked and jumped and wiggled and grinned, just like all dogs do when they saw their people.
“Wire!” yelled Ellen, dropping her book bag on the front porch. She did some jumping and wiggling herself, not to mention grinning—just like all people do when they’re with their dogs again after a long day of learning. Then Ellen grabbed her book bag and ran into the house, Wire Dog racing behind.
“Mom, guess what?” Ellen skidded to a stop in the kitchen, where her mom was fixing Ellen’s afternoon snack.
“What, honey?” asked her mom as she set a small plate of peanut butter crackers and apple slices on the table, with a glass of milk beside it.
“A new girl started to school today and she wears glasses and she’s a bookworm and she knows all kinds of stories and she’s coming over tomorrow morning to play with me and Wire!” Ellen blurted out all in one long string of words and then grabbed her milk. She took a long drink and bit into an apple slice. Then, when her mom was pretending not to look, Ellen slipped a cracker down to Wire. Wire loved peanut butter.
“That’s wonderful, Ellen!” her mom said. “It’s supposed to be rainy tomorrow, but now you’ll have someone to play with.”
Wire Dog gave a little dog sound that was sort of ‘ahem-grrr-wf’ as if to say ‘Ellen always has me to play with!’
Luckily, Ellen’s mom understood dog language. She laughed. “Of course, she always has you, Wire, but new friends are wonderful.”
All Friday afternoon and evening, every minute, every second, Wire Dog spent with Ellen. But he was….well, not worried, but wondering. A bookworm. What did a bookworm look like? He knew worms, of course. He’d dug up plenty in the yard and garden and had eaten more than a few. Worms were soft and squishy, with no arms or legs, and it was hard to tell which end was head and which end was tail—unlike Wire, who had a very handsome curly tail and a round head with perky ears.
Wire also knew all about books. One time, he’d been a bad dog and had chewed on one of Ellen’s comics; it was just a little bit of chewing, really just enough to get the corner of the book nice and soft and damp, but Ellen had not been happy. Wire had been very, VERY careful not to chew on a book again.
But a bookworm? And a little girl bookworm, at that, and with glasses too. He kept wondering how this bookworm knew which end to put her glasses on, if she was a worm. The thought almost kept him from falling asleep that night on the foot of Ellen’s bed, but they’d played long and hard so soon he was drifting off…
Early next morning, Ellen jumped out of bed, startling Wire a bit. Usually, Ellen slept a little later on Saturday, but today he could tell she was excited. He was excited too. A bookworm! Life was certainly interesting!
About ten o’clock, the doorbell rang, and Wire Dog rushed to answer it as he always did, barking loudly and saying in dog language ‘Welcome if you’re a good person but if you’re not, watch out!’
Ellen opened the door, and Wire peered around her legs, waiting for his first glimpse of the bookworm. A girl stood on the front porch. She was shorter than Ellen, a bit plump, and wore glasses, but her eyes behind the glasses sparkled with happiness.
“Abigail! Come on in,” Ellen said. “This is Wire Dog.”
“What a wonderful dog,” Abigail said as she patted Wire on his head.
Naturally, Wire thought Abigail had excellent taste, but he wasn’t quite sure why Ellen had called her new friend a bookworm. It was clear that Abigail had a head and feet, unlike a regular worm. Her feet were covered with red sneakers, her body dressed in jeans and a t-shirt that said ‘I Read’ and she wore a big backpack that looked heavy.
“Let’s go to my room,” Ellen said. “Mom will bring us some snacks.”
The two girls raced up the stairs, followed closely by Wire. He was still looking for anything resembling a worm about Abigail.
In Ellen’s room, Abigail dropped her backpack on the bed and sat down beside it. “Whew! I didn’t know what to bring, and I guess I always pack too many.”
Too many what? Wire wondered. Hey, maybe Abigail had the bookworms in her backpack and wasn’t really one herself? He waited impatiently while she unzipped her bag.
Out tumbled books. Red books, blue books, green books. Old books, new books, clean books, and books that looked as if they’d been run over by a car or nibbled by rats. Big books, little books, and books just the right size.
But no worms. Wire Dog sat back on his haunches and perked up his ears, waiting, just in case the worms were at the bottom of the backpack. But Abigail held it up and gave it a shake. Not a single worm fell out.
“Wow,” Ellen said in wonder as she picked up first one book, then another. “I thought I had a lot of books, but you have so many.”
Abigail laughed so hard her glasses slid down her nose. She pushed them up with one finger. “This isn’t all of my books, not anywhere near,” she said. “I love books. I ask for books for my birthday. I ask for books for Christmas. I ask for books, well, anytime, and most always my mom or dad or grandma or grandad or aunts and uncles buy me…books!”
Wire Dog lay down and sighed. Well, it looked like no worms today. But he liked Abigail anyway. First of all, she had wonderful taste; she loved dogs. Second, his Ellen liked her too. And third—well, the third reason is this:
Abigail told wonderful stories! On just this one day, her first visit to Ellen and Wire Dog, she told a story by Jules Verne about traveling to the Center of the Earth. She told a story by Edgar Allan Poe about a Black Cat—Wire kept a close look-out during this story in case the cat actually came through the window or anything. Then Abigail told a story about a Frog Prince; Wire liked to watch frogs hop and he could almost see the frog, Abigail told the story so well. Then she told a story about a trip in a huge peach filled with talking bugs, then another about giant dinosaurs in South America, then another about a little mermaid who wanted legs.
So, even though it was raining hard and not at all a good day for a walk, Wire Dog didn’t even miss playing outside with Ellen. Abigail told them stories from all her books all day long and, before they even knew it, it was time for lunch. Then, after not nearly enough more stories, it was time for Abigail to go home.
Wire Dog helped Ellen and Abigail place the books into the backpack; he found the ones that had slipped off and hidden themselves under the bed and behind the desk and nudged them out with his feet.
“Goodbye, Abby!” yelled Ellen as she and Wire Dog stood on the porch, waving. “Come back soon!”
“Woof!” said Wire Dog, which as everyone knows, means “And bring more stories!” in dog language.
The End…for Now
About the Author:
K.G. McAbee has had several books and nearly a hundred short stories published, some of them quite readable. She writes steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, horror, pulp, westerns and, most recently, mysteries; her ‘Dyed to Death’ won the prestigious Black Orchid Novella award and appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. She’s a member of Horror Writers Association, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and is an Artist in Residence in Literature with the South Carolina Arts Commission
About the Illustrator:
J. A. Johnson is the author of THE WILD, WILD QUEST, an epic fantasy of the Old West. He is the illustrator and co-author of the children’s comic book series, THE MIGHTY, MIGHTY MAOMI and the creator/artist for his line of coloring books for adults, Coloring Bug, available at Amazon. He lives in North Carolina with his wonderful wife, Min.