I Kill Innocent Creatures — And Then They Cry.

The 53 stairs leading up to my house are a minefield of slimy, disgusting slugs. Every morning, without fail, I have to dodge, hop, skip, and weave my way down the stairs in an attempt to not step on one of the suckers. I always make sure I have some extra change on hand, though, just in case.  If I squish a slug, I can assure you I will not be the one who scrapes it off the bottom of my Cole Haan’s. Mgazi will do it. She’ll do almost anything for a quarter.

So far, in the ten years that I have lived in this house, in the thousands of times I have trekked up and down those incredibly annoying stairs, I have never ever stepped on a slug.

I did, however, manage to step on a snail.

Damn! Did I just make it down to the bottom of the stairs, all FIFTY-THREE stairs, violence-free, only to hear (and feel) the dainty shell of a snail crunch under my sneaker?

Please say it isn’t so.

Oh, it’s so. The children saw it all and they made sure I understood the full impact of my actions.

Zaffron: Mommy! What did you do?

Me: What? Nothing! Get in the car.

Mgazi [bending at the waist, inspecting the sidewalk]: Oh no, Zaffy. She is lying to you. Mommy killed a snail.

Tears immediately spring into Zaffy’s eyes. She’s by the car, with me. She can’t even see what Mgazi is looking at.

Zaffron: Mommy! How could you do that? He was just a baby!

Me: Oh for heaven’s sake… I just –I didn’t — for God’s sake, just get in the car. The snail is fine. He’s going to have to crawl away and find a new shell.

Mgazi [still peering at the glob on the concrete]: Nuh uh, Mommy. He’s killed. You killed him.

Me: Gazi, get in the car. Zaffy, you too.

Everyone climbs into the car and I think the episode is over because there is a short stretch of silence (if you don’t count Zaffy’s whimpering.) What was I thinking? There are never stretches of silence in my car. Short or otherwise.

Mgazi: Zaffy, you know that snail that Mommy killed? (Like Zaffy could have forgotten in the last two minutes.) He was crying too.

Zaffy [now wailing]: What? What?? Why? WHYYYYYY MOMMMMMMMMMMY?

Me: I’m sorry! I am so sorry. It was a total accident. I feel awful, Zaffy. Mgazi, you didn’t see the snail crying. Stop trying to rile your sister.

Mgazi: I did. I saw his eyes. And there were tears coming out of them.


Me: Mgazi, seriously. You need to stop talking. I’m not joking. Not another word.

And we returned to silence… except, of course, for the sound of my oldest child’s sniffling  grief.

Glass of white wineRecommended wine: Do you know what goes great with snails? A chablis — chalky, crisp, and flinty, with a hint of earthiness. Try the 2007 Christian Moreau Chablis. You should be able to get it for around $30.

Snail photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

4 insightful thoughts by 4 brilliant people

    • Wendy! Aloha!

      Thank you for the compliment! Isn’t it gross? Stepping on something like that? If I had told the complete truth, I would have included the part where I tried to hide from my children the fact that I was gagging, trying depersately not deposit my breakfast on the sidewalk!

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