'The Lizard Who Followed Me Home'

Story Time

July 21, 1999

Editor's note: An unexpected stowaway crosses the country with a family on the move.

By Kate Allen

It all started when my family and I were moving to California.

We lived in Kansas. There were boxes stacked everywhere, when my Mom said, "We better go see Grams before we move so far away."

Of course, Grams was delighted to have us visit. Especially me -- we love to take long walks on the beach. After one of these walks Grams and I sat down in her yard. Feeling nice and cozy, we took off our shoes and socks and counted our hundreds of shells.

Then I noticed a visitor sitting beside us.

It was a green Florida lizard. Grams tried to shoo it away but it didn't move an inch.

It just sat there and stared.

"Would you look at that," said Grams. "It looks like it wants to say something."

But of course, it couldn't talk, and we gathered up our shells, socks, and shoes and headed for the house.

As we passed the laundry room, Grams suggested we throw our socks into the washing machine.

We started it up and went to lunch.

Later that day, I opened the lid of the washing machine and I jumped three feet.

"Whoa -- How did you get in there?" I said.

It swayed back and forth a minute and slowly jumped off.

I finished putting the clothes from the washer into the dryer.

As I walked away, something caught my eye. I turned around and there it was again. That green lizard was stuck on the window inside the dryer, with clothes going around it in every direction.

I quickly stopped the dryer and took the lizard out.

"You silly old lizard -- go outside where you belong."

But once again, it just stared at me.

Just then, Grams' dog LuLu rounded the corner of the laundry room and she spotted the lizard.

"No, LuLu, no!" I screamed.

But off they went jumping and leaping, with LuLu barking, trying to catch that silly lizard.

All over the house it went -- up the stairs, over Grams' feet, and finally, into a closet.

"Grams!" I yelled. "Come here quickly!"

But neither of us could find the lizard.

LuLu lost interest and stopped sniffing and went to sleep.

When it was time for us to leave, we were all very sad.

Grams baked us delicious chocolate chip cookies, and she cried.

"It's okay Grams, we'll be back soon," I said, with a hug.

Mom asked her to come visit us in California.

Holding onto LuLu, Grams said good-by and blew kisses until I couldn't see her anymore.

On the plane, traveling back to Kansas, I ate Grams' cookies and thought about what happened to the lizard. I decided it probably escaped through a window at Grams' house.

When we arrived home, Mom opened her suitcase, and out leaped the green lizard!

She screamed, she jumped, and she cried out, all at the same time!

Dad came running!

I started screaming too!

We chased the lizard through the house over the boxes, and around the furniture. Even with the three of us in pursuit, somehow we lost it.

Mom sat down and said, "I have a headache."

With a face as red as a beet, Dad declared, "Stop this ridiculous search! We're moving anyway."

However, I secretly continued to look for the lizard.

The next day, the moving men loaded everything we owned into the moving vans.

Even with the house empty, I did not find the lizard anywhere.

Dad was anxious and shouted, "Let's get this show on the road!"

So we said good-by to our old house and set out for our new one.

We arrived in California five days later. Vans, cars, people, boxes and, of course, one green lizard.

Yes, it hitched a ride to California.

There it was, staring at me once again!

And do you know, it now lives in our garden in California.

It still stares at me like it wants to say something.

And, if I'm very, very quiet, I believe I hear that Florida lizard telling all of the California lizards how it followed me home.

Reprinted from THE LIZARD WHO FOLLOWED ME HOME by Kate Allen, illustrated by Jim Harris. Copyright c 1995 by Kate Allen. Illustrations copyright c 1995 by Jim Harris. Reprinted by arrangement with The Kumquat Press. All rights reserved.

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