I’ve always envied snails. The way they can hide themselves inside their shells, just duck way back in there, retreat, when anything they don’t like comes their way. How they carry their house along with them. The way they’re never without a home.
Fancy Slugs, my older brother calls them. Slugs with their own pied a terre. I didn’t know what that meant. I had to look it up.
My brother used to tread on snails in the overgrown back garden of our fourth – no, fifth – foster home, when he was feeling angry. It went through me, hearing his trainers cracking their shells, grinding them into the garden path. At night, I sometimes crept out the back door with my torch to look along the path at the night time traffic of slugs and snails, trailing their silvery tracks.
Once, when we were taken on a trip to the seaside, my brother said he had something way better than snails to show me.
He took me to a shallow rock pool and fished around with a net, pulling out a small hermit crab. He told me how, when the crab gets too big for this shell home, it will discard it for another. It keeps trying out all these shells, until it gets the right one, the right fit.
A bit like us, he said, holding out the hermit in the palm of his hand.
About the author:
Kate Jones is a freelance writer based in the UK, with short fiction, creative non-fiction, essays and features appearing in many online literary magazines and websites, including Spelk, The Nottingham Review, The Real Story and SickLit. She is currently an editorial intern for Great Jones Street and can be found on Twitter @katejonespp