Mama told me all the stories of the great blinding light and times of darkness and cold. She did not live through them herself, but she assured me it was not so long ago. Before the great glow, never-ending darkness and cold, there walked upon the earth terrible giants who kindly fed us and just as ruthlessly crushed us underfoot.
These stories were fading from my memory, and I was afraid. They gave me a reason for living and the determination to keep my legs moving in the eternal search for food. If I could only find Mama she would explain why food made life worth living. Or, rather, what worthwhile reason made eating so important.
The last time I remembered being with Mama we were in the midst of our kind. We clamored over each other trying to find food. At one point my legs gave way, and I felt a thousand little legs on my back. I sensed their fear and desperation. There were so many of us, and no one knew what to do but keep scampering around. If we kept moving maybe we would find a gooey mountain that once was one of the giants. The giants had become our food.
I knew that I was not smart. When I didn’t know what to do, I often did absolutely nothing and hoped absolutely nothing happened to me. This also gave me time to think about things Mama told me. We needed food to exist, but if we could not find food, we should look for water to drink. Drinking water would keep us alive until we found food.
If I found a pipe, she told me, crawl up it because pipes always carried water. I bumped into a long round thing which I thought was one of those pipes Mama talked about, and I climbed on it and began to scuttle upwards. One of my feet slipped into a crack so I decided to crawl inside. Mama said water was always inside the pipe.
It was dry. My legs weakened. I didn’t know how much longer I could walk. Within my body was a growing perception that I no longer cared to move. I tried to control the panic. Just ahead, I came upon a hole. Crawling through, I found myself in a great basin. My spirits lifted. This was one of the places where water existed.
In the distance I saw a great brown mound. It was one of us. As I came closer I knew who it was. I recognized the pattern of the shell. I smelled its essence. My antennae touched its antennae. It was Mama. I nudged her, hoping that she was just sleeping. But she was not sleeping. All that was left was her dry shell.
Momentarily I considered leaving to continue my search for food and water but changed my mind. My fatigue overwhelmed me. My legs could move no more. I was with Mama. And all was good.