The Life of a Thankful Banana Slug
with special thanks for character inspiration from Dan Eric Paine's book, Pug the Banana Slug Pirate.
Thankfulness? What is all the fuss about thankfulness? I have never had anything to be thankful for my entire life. My family abandoned me as an infant, so now I am a pirate. I earned my nickname, Pug, from the time I bravely fought against a pug, the most vicious type of dog there is! If there is anything to be thankful for, it is my triumph over that disgusting creature.
I have been living in the California redwoods for all my life. I hate it so much! Snakes and raccoons regularly hunt me, and my only real friends are fellow swashbuckling pirates. Also, the acidic dirt dries up all of my mucus! That dirt grows the nastiest mushrooms. And worst of all, I have developed asthma in my one lung. I guess my friends are okay, though.
My best friend, Toby, is also my first cousin. Every banana slug is related somehow. We are all just one slimy family! Every year, humans steal us from our habitat and use us for slug racing. Many slugs have been captured, but few have returned.
One day, Toby and I got hungry, so we ventured off to scour the gross, soggy ground for some mushrooms. After a little bit of looking without finding anything, we decided to move closer to the highway. Slugs our age are forbidden to get this close to the road, but it was our only option. Soon, we discovered that the ground near the highway grows the best mushrooms.
“Ooh! These mushrooms are so tasty compared to the usual ones!” said Toby. As we were enjoying our mushrooms, Toby looked out into the distance.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if the slug racing truck came and took us?” laughed Toby.
“Oh, is it that time of the year already?” I inquired.
“Yes! The redwoods are starting to turn green subtly,” he exclaimed, proud of his advanced knowledge of nature. Toby is very intelligent sometimes (emphasis on sometimes). All of a sudden, we heard a low rumble. It was almost as if the truck were coming right now.
“Hey, doesn’t that sound almost like the slug racing truck?” Toby asked, starting to shake. We looked down the road, and our greatest fears were confirmed. We began to wiggle away (because obviously, we can’t run). We wiggled faster and faster to no prevail. Suddenly, I felt cold, firm hands lift me off of the ground.
“Toby! Toby! Are you alright?” As the man set me down on the car seat, I looked around for Toby. He was nowhere in sight. I came to the cold realization that I had been captured, but Toby was not. I know it sounds terrible to wish that upon my friend, but I didn’t think I can go through this alone. As the truck skidded along the bumpy highway, I became riddled with fear. What if they put me in a different forest after the race takes place? I would never see any of the other pirates again! The last time I saw Toby, I had my mouth full of mushroom. I began to long for the disgusting redwoods I called home, and the swashbuckling pirates I called family.
The truck halted to a stop. My heart fluttered as I was taken out of the car and placed in a cage with three other banana slugs. Their eyes stretched out as they looked me up and down.
“Wh-what’s your name?” I stammered.
“The name’s Cook. Bob cook. These are my brothers, Bob Cool and Bob Warm.” said the main one.
“Hey,” the one on the left replied with a scraggly voice. He must have been Bob Cool.
“Look at him!” Bob Warm exclaimed.
“He has no slime!” They all started laughing. My cheeks turned orange. Why were they so mean? My swashbuckling friends never made fun of me back home. Then, right on cue, the man who captured me came back. I became petrified, but the three Bobs didn’t seem phased at all.
“Here we go again,” one muttered, and they all chuckled. How could they be so calm?
The cage was picked up, and we were in the air again. Then, we were taken out of the cage and placed on the starting line. Bob Cook was on my left, and Bob Cool and Bob Warm were on my right. This must be the race, I thought to myself. Without warning, a dark thought entered my mind. How would I race with my asthma? Just as I started to have my doubts, a horn blew, and I began to wiggle. Immediately after, the Bobs charged ahead.
What seemed like an hour later (even though it was probably less than three minutes), I crossed the finish line, ending in last place. The Bobs laughed at me, for I had lost by a considerable margin. What they didn’t know was that I was allowed to go home.
Once again, I felt a familiar sensation. I realized I was being picked up again. I looked across from me and noticed that the three Bobs were being carried as well. I felt myself land on the scratchy leather car seat I had been put on when traveling here. Finally, I was going home.
As the truck drove down the highway, my old fears resurfaced. What if I was placed in a random spot in the forest and I never saw my friends again? I spent the rest of the car ride trying not to get an asthma attack from anxiety. I was surprised that I had not gotten one during the race. I guess I was kind of grateful for that.
The truck rolled to a stop, the doors were opened, and once again, I was placed on the ground. This location seemed familiar. After looking around, I spotted Toby’s slime trail. Each slug has a unique trail. With a pep in my wiggle, I immediately followed that path, hoping it would take me to safety.
At last, it did. I spotted Toby a couple of feet away (which is very far for banana slugs like me). I would have cried to see my best friend again, but banana slugs don’t have tear ducts. I wiggled over to Toby and smushed my body to his (because that was the closest thing banana slugs had to hug.) As we smushed our bodies together, I took in my surroundings.
I realized something: I have many reasons to be thankful. I am thankful that raccoons and snakes are the worst thing that I have to deal with. I am thankful for the acidic soil because it nurtures my slime. I am thankful for the delicious mushrooms that I can eat here. I am thankful that my asthma is only in one lung (even though banana slugs only have one lung.)
Most importantly, I am thankful for my amazing friends, Toby and the swashbuckling pirates. Every one of them is ten times the slug the three Bobs will ever be. I love them with all of my tiny, little, banana slug heart.