By Margo Wayman
"1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10! Here I come; ready or not!" shouted Borak the beetle. He moved away from the ripe red tomato he had been leaning against as he counted. He looked around the vegetable garden, but couldnt see any of his friends. They were hiding in good places, and he was going to have a hard time finding them.
He walked over to where the string beans grew. He looked up at each plant, carefully examining the long, slender, green bean pods that were dangling, hidden among the leaves. Some of the pods were over six inches long. When he got to the last string bean plant, he noticed that one of the pods had odd bumps on it. The bumps looked like eyes, so he moved in for a closer look. That was no string bean! It was Waqi the worm. "1,2,3 on Waqi," Borak the beetle called out, then climbed up the stem to tag Waqi out.
Waqi opened her eyes and looked down. "Oh dear. Ive been caught," she said. She curled herself up, climbed on to the branch, then went down the stem to the rich, chocolate brown dirt below.
"You had me fooled, Waqi," said Borak. "At first I thought you were a string bean, but now Ive caught you. Do you want to come with me and help me find the others?" he asked.
Waqi said shed like to help, so the two continued their game of hide and seek. They headed towards the squash. They had to climb over thick vines with huge leaves growing from them. "Look at that yellow squash," Borak said. "Ive never seen a squash with black stripes before," he added.
Waqi the worm looked over at the squash and noticed the black spots. "What are those black stripes?" she asked.
Borak looked over at it quizzically, then walked towards it. He stopped and stared at it for a while. Then, excited, the cried out, "Its Batula bee! 1,2,3 on Batula!" He ran over to the squash and tagged her out. Batula walked away from the squash plant and joined Borak, and Waqi . "That was a good hiding lace," said Borak.
"I didnt know it was you," added Waqi.
Batula Bee buzzed, "I thought it was a good place. I cant believe you found me so quickly." She fluttered her wings to make sure they were still working as she spoke.
"Would you like to come and help us find the others?" asked Borak.
"I would love that! Buzzzzzzzz!" Batula answered.
The three bugs walked through the rich, dark brown soil to search for their other friends. "Lets go to the lettuce patch. Ill bet that Kaseeb the potato bug, or Kamilah the lady bug, are hiding near there!" suggested Borak. The bugs agreed, and headed towards the lettuce heads, passing through rows of carrots, radishes, and cabbages.
After a long search, they still couldnt find their friends. "Lets try the peas, Buzzzzzzzzz," Batula said.
They went over to the rows of pea pods that were clinging to the long curly vines. They were filled with plump, round, green peas. "Im hungry," said Waqi the worm. "Im going to pick a pod and have a snack." She reached up and pulled a pod off of the vine and opened it up. Inside were six green peas and one gray one. "Oh yuck. A gray pea," she said distastefully.
Batula and Borak went over to see. "Wait a minute. This isnt a pea, Waqi. Its Kaseeb the potato bug. 1,2,3 on Kaseeb," he called and tagged him out.
The gray pea unrolled and smiled at his friends. "That was a great place to hide," Waqi laughed. "Wed have never found you, if I hadnt been so hungry." She picked up one of the good peas and gobbled it down.
"Lets go find Kamilah the lady bug now. Shes the last one to find. Do you want to come with us, Kaseeb?" asked Borak.
"Id love to help you," he replied, then joined the group. Soon Borak, Waqi, Batula, and Kaseeb were walking along, in search of Kamilah.
"You know, shes red. Maybe we should check all the red veggies and fruits first," suggested Kaseeb. Agreeing, the group went to the red bell peppers. They looked at each one carefully, but couldnt find her. They then headed towards the sugar beets, but couldnt find her there either. They checked the ripe red tomatoes, again, but no Kamilah. They carefully crawled through the prickly raspberry bushes; no Kamilah. The last red fruit were the strawberries in the patch.
"This is it. She must be here. Lets all spread out and try to find her," ordered Borak the beetle.
The four bugs went through the strawberry patch. Suddenly they heard, "I found her! I found her! I found Kamilah the lady bug!" Waqi called. Batula, Kaseeb, and Borak ran quickly. There was Waqi, among a cluster of giant, juicy, ripe, red strawberries. Little white flowers blossomed all around them, giving the air a sweet scent. "There she is!" Waqi told them, pointing to a strawberry.
There sat Kamilah ladybug, her black polka dot wings folded up close to her body. "1,2,3 on Kamilah," shouted Borak. He climbed on top of the strawberry and tagged her out.
She flew down and landed by the others. "That was fun!" she giggled.
"It was a lot of fun," added Batula. "Can we play this again, another time?"
Waqi and Borak smiled, then Borak said, "Why sure we can; maybe tomorrow. But one of you have to be IT!"
They all agreed to meet at the radishes the next day. Each bug went home. That night they all dreamed about how much fun theyd had that day, and about where they were going to hide tomorrow.