The Book “Werm”

Welcome Guest writer Jonah Lange. Jonah is a graduate student at Northern Iowa University studying School Counseling. In he spare time he likes to run, read, and write clever short stories like the one below. Enjoy.

I. Didn’t. Like it.
We had to do a book report. Usually, I really liked book reports. I love reading. This time; however, the book we read was assigned to us. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded that either had I not been assigned such a boring looking book. Other people got fun fiction books, and some even got to read comic books. Me? I was assigned Werm, a historical book about a poor European man. The teacher said that the book would challenge me, but that he thought I was ready for it. We’ll see, I guess.
It started off slow. A bunch of numbers and dates of when Werm (whose given name was actually Will Bunt) and his siblings were born and how his parents both died when he was quite young, and he had to support his family so that he and his siblings would survive. I looked up at the clock. I’d been reading this for 2 hours and I was only 20 pages in. It was such a drag. I didn’t know how I’d ever finish it. I decided to call it a night and try to pick up reading it tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and, though I may have actively avoided it for most of my day, I eventually brought myself back to trying to read Werm. As I’d said, it didn’t seem much unlike any other dystopian historical book that I’d ever heard of before. Except, it seemed almost like it was getting interesting. Werm was working at a farm, but being younger, he wasn’t able to do as much. Due to laws, the owner was obligated to pay Werm a fair rate, but he didn’t think Werm was even worth the small amount he was paying him. Werm could tell that his job and thus the lives of he and his siblings were at stake. He had to figure out something to protect his siblings. At this point, I kind of started to like Werm. He was hard-working, but also selfless. When I looked up at the clock, 2 hours had gone by, and I’d read almost 50 pages!

The next day, I got up and went straight to reading. Werm had come up with a plan. He knew he could work hard; he just needed a way to for the hard work he put in to show some real results. His main job at the farm had always been to care for the plants. In his case, that mostly meant pulling up weeds. For him, however, some of the weeds were harder to pull up because of how deep the roots went. So, he decided to help himself out. He went out with a shovel to the beginning of the first row. He started digging a hole. It took a while, but eventually, he dug a hole deep enough to stand in. Then, from down in the hole he started to dig sideways under the row of plants. He knew he couldn’t dig too shallow underneath the plants or they might die. He had to be extremely careful. Also, since the man he worked for didn’t know what he was doing, he also had to be sneaky. Thus, He had to fill in the dirt as he dug, so that no one knew he was tunneling under the crops. I’ll admit that I was nervous. If he did it wrong, the crops would die and likely so would he and his family. As he dug, he started to not only successfully get rid of weeds, but he also found rocks, most of which he removed to help the plants’ roots grow better.
Eventually he found one rock that was different. It was gold! He didn’t know what to do. He had found it on his owner’s property, so he felt it belonged to him, but he’d also have to explain how he found it. He knew that he’d be in more trouble for not showing it to the owner, so he brought it in.
Edge. Of. My. Seat. What would happen? Would the owner fire him for tunneling? Would he let him keep the gold? Unfortunately, it was getting late, so I had to stop reading. I’d read over 100 pages that day.

I got up early the next day to finish the book. When Werm showed the gold to the owner, the owner was surprised. Naturally, the owner’s questions lead Werm to telling about the tunnels. After hearing everything, the owner was amazed. Not only in Werm’s hard-working attitude, but also in his cleverness and integrity. First, he thanked Werm for bringing in the gold, but said it was his to keep. Second, he told Werm how the crops in the rows he’d been tunneling in had been doing even better than the others and he wanted to raise Werm’s pay. Third, he wanted to help Werm provide for his siblings. He offered to pay for their house so that more of Werm’s money could go to buying food for he and his siblings.It was such a good book. It had indeed been a challenge, but one that I pushed through and ultimately loved at the end.
Now to write the report. I knew it wouldn’t take long. I already knew everything I would say.
All I needed now was a good title.

The End.

“You’re one of those people aren’t you!?” my husband looked at me, incredulous.

Turns out, after four years of dating and eight years of marriage we still have some stuff to learn.

“Yes, I am. I’m not ashamed and I’m not going to change” I replied, processing my reasoning as I spoke the words. It’s something I’ve always accepted about myselfbut until this moment—I hadn’t processed why. I pursed my lips, my eyes searching the textured ceiling for a response. “It gives me…a boundary of sorts. A sense of security.”

We were discussing, of course, reading ahead to the end of a story.

I’ve always been a bookworm. A nerdy type, who, as a child, had books taken away instead of being grounded. Characters come alive to me as my imaginary friends. Especially as a child, but occasionally even as an adult, I become inconsolably grouchy after finishing a series or saga, reeling with the disappointment that my wide world has shrunk back down to reality. 

I didn’t start out as the skip-to-the-end type, but sometime around the fifth or sixth grade I started reading Cheaper by the Dozen and mentioned it to an older, wiser, bookworm. They “didn’t want to spoil it” but implied a sad ending. I loved this memoir but was just entering into the emotional unraveling we refer to as “puberty” and my already delicate heart didn’t need any more fodder for meltdown. I read ahead, prepared my heart, and thus began a lifetime of peeking at the final chapter.

Lest you start to judge me, let me argue a bit more in my defense. I read the ending not so I may set the book aside and skip to another, but to enrich the middle. Once I know how the story will end I know how my emotions will be pulled. I find security in this. A good writer includes twists and turns throughout the plot, but I face these knowing that eventually the lost princess will be found (or eaten!), the grandfather will die peacefully after reconciling with his estranged family, or the lost item will remain lost but the seeker will find true contentedness.

As humans, we are sent to walk on earth for a time. Very little of our life is guaranteed, and even some of those “for sure” plans disappear. We may dream of marriage and family, may or may not happen (or happen in a way we do not expect), a career we spend our lives preparing for may become obsolete or unattainable due to unforeseen circumstances. We may live a quiet, faithful life and be suddenly affected by chronic pain, food allergy, change in economic status, disability, or unplanned pregnancy.

But followers of Christ know how the story ends.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)

At the end of the story, God will draw us to him. As Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it, “everything sad will come untrue.” Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus already did.

If the middle of the story feels scary and unknown to you today, I challenge you to skip to the end. Read the book of Revelation. Maybe grab a commentary or a wise friend to help navigate the imagery. 

The middle is a mystery but the end is assured.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.

My daughter shares my love for books.