Once upon a time, when dinosaurs walked the earth, Shannon was last. She wasn’t the last last, but she was the Latest Last. And she hated it.
To her siblings and cousins, being last meant she was the baby, the favored one. Spoiled. To Shannon, it meant she was always too-slow, too-young, and left-behind.
Being a bit stiff-necked and slightly strong in the backbone, Shannon, the Latest Last, became a Stinker who Startled. She had to put her littleness to good use after all.
In the morning, she would jump out at Mommy from under her covers:
In the afternoon, she would pounce out at Daddy from behind a big rock:
In the evening, she would wait so still and then:
grab Constance or Joshua’s leg from under the bed.
When her cousins came it only got worse.
From behind doors, out from under big leaves, off the backs of triceratops, Shannon sprang with a wild shout, frightening Imogene, surprising Jude, and making Remi cry. Jules, Constance, Bruce, Joshua, and Ellie—the older kids—chased Shannon away for causing such an annoying ruckus.
Shannon frowned as she plopped down beside the brachiosaurus herd. No one wanted her around. They didn’t let her play and they didn’t want to be startled. She crossed her arms with a grunt.
A large, long-necked brachiosaur lowered its mighty head to look at the little pouting girl. Shannon stared into its soft brown eyes. She smiled slowly to herself.
She sprang up, waved her arms, and shouted as loud as she could.
The brachiosaur leapt straight up in the air.
Then thud again!
Its tail fell off and flopped to the ground. Away the brachiosaur ran, leaving it behind.
Shannon’s mouth gaped open as she stared at the giant, writhing tail and the disappearing brachiosaur.
Laughter erupted from the bushes behind her.
Out spilled her siblings and cousins.
“Did you see that?” Joshua shouted.
“It lost its tail, it was so frightened.” Bruce held his sides and doubled over with giggles.
Jules pointed at the rest of the herd in the field. “Let’s do it again!”
Ellie and Constance gave Shannon a big hug.
“You’re ridiculous.” Imogene declared and even Remi laughed.
Jude put his arm around Shannon. “Show us how to do it.”
Shannon, the Latest Last, led the way out into the field. Every child sat so quiet not even a mouse noticed them, then:
They all shouted at once.
THUD! THUD! THUD!
Tails dropped and giant dinosaurs raced away from the scary things in the grass.
Shannon had found where she fit and felt much less left-behind, too-young, or too-slow. Maybe being the Latest Last wasn’t so bad when she could be a Stinker with everyone.
That night, Mommy made a wonderful dinner of dinosaur tail, and everyone reenacted—over and over again—how Shannon had startled the first brachiosaur.
Next time you chase down a lizard and it loses its tail, remember Shannon the Stinker who Startled.