The S Word
Sometimes we are so afraid of something, that the mere mention of the word gives us the willies…snakes, spiders. Those are unmentionable “S” words. Sammy is a sad spider because all the children at school are afraid of him.

When one special student takes his side, there is hope for a change.

    In the summer, Sammy Spider stayed inside a silent school. There he spun his silky web and snagged insects. Sammy was a sad spider. He couldn't sing like a songbird. He didn't slither like a snake or sit like a setter. No, the students didn't smile when they saw him. What did they do? They screamed and slapped at him! They even searched his secret hiding spots so they could smash him! To the students, sammy was the S word…SPIDER! That made him sad.
    He reached down to touch it and stopped. Another rule. Don’t touch wounded or dead animals. He was supposed to report it to Ma. Was it alive? He glanced around and found a stick. He used the stick to gently nudge the bat. It moved, making a hissing sound as its tiny mouth gaped open. It had sharp teeth!
    He dropped the stick and turned back toward the house. He ran as fast as he could until he got to the house. The screen door screeched as he opened it and slammed shut as he dashed into the house.
“Ma?”
    “In here,” Ma called from the kitchen, “and how many times have I told you not to let that screen door slam? I have a cake in the oven.
He heard the mixer motor as he ran to the kitchen. “I found a bat! It’s alive, but I think it is hurt.”
    Ma looked up from the icing she was making. “Did you touch it?”
“No…not with my hands. I used a stick to push it and see if it was still alive.”
In September, the students swarmed into the school. They skipped down the halls and shouted at each other. Sammy Spider was smart. He snuck back to his secret spot in the science room. In the shadows of a seldom used sack of salt, he stayed until the students left.
   One day Sammy Spider was spinning a web across the science room when students swarmed into the room. The girls shrieked and the boys shouted.
"SPIDER! Somebody squash him!"
Someone swung a sweater at him and split his web. He swished through the air and slammed against the solid wall. He staggered away, seeking his secret spot. Suddenly a student spied him and sped forward. Sammy Spider ran faster, but the student was soon standing over him. The student was ready to strike, but suddenly something strange happened.

   "Let him alone!" one special student shouted, stopping the other student. "See? He is a good spider. He isn't black with a red hour glass on his stomach. Do you see a fiddle on his back? He won't hurt you."
   The other student stopped and stared at Sammy Spider. "Humph!" he said. "I hate spiders! They are ugly."
   The special student laughed. "If it is okay to hate something because it is ugly, I bet everybody hates you!"
    All the students laughed. Then they circled around Sammy Spider and stared.

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Sammy Spider didn't want to be snuggled or stroked by the students. He didn't want to be stuck in a stupid jar. Sammy Spider only wanted to sit silently and see the students study. Couldn't they see how special he was? His eight legs were so long and slender, and his body was sleek and soft. Wasn't it silly for the students to be scared by such a small animal? Yes, he was an animal – not a plant or an inanimate object, but an animal. 
Sammy Spider scrunched into a ball and pretended he was sleeping. One of the students stuck a finger at him and Sammy Spider sprang in the air. The student shrank back.
"Did you see that? He tried to bite me!"
The special student stabbed the scared one with a stiff finger. "How do you like to be poked? Let's see what the spider does when we leave him alone?"

For the rest of the school season, Sammy Spider sat in science class. The students saw him every day, but they did not scream. They said he was their special spider and they named him arachnid. The science teacher said that was the scientific name for spider.
Sammy Spider didn't care what they called him. Sammy Spider wasn't sad any more. Sammy Spider got to see the students study, and that made him smile.
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