"Hey, watch where you're going!" the soft, slimey thing said.
"Oh, sorry," said Patient, " I guess I was going so fast I didn't see you there."
"That's okay. My name is Harold."
"Hi, Harold, I'm Patient," she replied, "I live here in the garden. I like going fast."
"Cool," said Harold. He seemed like a nice enough fellow. In fact, Patient noticed that he looked a lot she did, except he was an ugly yellow color and he didn't have a pretty pink shell on his back. In fact, Harold didn't even HAVE a shell on his back--not a green shell, not an orange shell, not a purple shell--nothing!
"Hey, where's your shell?" asked Patient.
"Oh, I don't have one," Harold responded, "I'm a slug."
"Oh," said Patient. She had never seen a slug before.
"Want to play?" asked Harold.
Patient was unsure. Harold seemed a little weird, but it would be nice to have someone her own size to go fast with. "Okay," she said after thinking for a long while, "want to have a race?"
"Sure," said Harold.
They decided to race from the purple flowers to the mossy gray rock and then back to the purple flowers. Patient was her usual fast self. Zip, zip, zip! But Harold was not so fast. In fact, he was really. . . really. . . REALLY. . . slow. Zloooorp. Zloooorp. Patient had to wait a long time while Harold zloorped back to the purple flowers.
"Hey, that was fun!" said Harold when he finally arrived, "want to do it again?"
Patient made a squinty face. "I don't think so."
"Hey, let's go over to my side of the garden!" Harold said excitedly.
Patient was unsure again. Harold was getting weirder and weirder. But he looked so excited, and Patient didn't want to make him sad, so she followed him over to the side of the garden she had never visited before.
On Harold's side of the garden, instead of pretty flowers, there were big, colorful vegetables hanging from bright green plants. Patient had never seen anything like it.
"Cool, huh?" said Harold, " Want to go nibbling?"
"Sure," said Patient.
So they traveled all around Harold's side of the garden zipping and zloorping and nibbling on the big, colorful vegetables. They nibbled on some beautiful red tomatoes. They nibbled on some delicious green peppers. And they nibbled on some cute little peas in a pod. It was a lot of fun and very tasty.
"Thanks for nibbling with me," Harold said, "I should probably go back to my home in the rhubarb patch; it's getting late."
"Okay," said Patient, "maybe we can play again tomorrow."
Just then, she saw her big friend Abby walking through the garden, looking at the vegetables. When Abby saw Patient she smiled a big smile and waved. Patient waved back with her eyes.
Abby's mom was following behind her. Abby's baby sister Claire was in her arms wrapped up in a bright yellow blanket. She was smiling and giggling at something Abby had said. Claire reminded Patient of Harold. She turned her head and saw him, still zloorping slowly back to his rhubarb patch.
"Hey, Harold!" Patient called back to him, "I used to think yellow was an ugly color, but now I think I like it."
Harold turned around and gave her a puzzled look. Patient smiled at him.
"Huh?" he said, before turning back and slowly zloorping home.
story by William Bishop