Not what you’re thinking, whatever you’re thinking.
I was walking along a dirt trail, getting some fresh air, post-wildfire air, with a colleague.
“What kind of feedback are you getting about your novel?”
I pause, considering the question for a moment, like I hadn’t thought about this kind of question already
“Nothing. Inside joke. Look out.”
“Oh,” my colleague says, tracking my gaze and thus looking down. There lies a golden or mustard-colored slug sliming its way across the dirt path. I’d just saved its life.
“Talk about patience. See, it’s in no rush. It’s just doing its thing. Ask it ‘how’re you’re doin?’, it might say ‘gettin’ there, taking it one slithering inch at a time”
“You’re a comic” My colleagues responds familiarly. He knows already my habit of personifying things, ideas. It’s my thing.
“Imagine it gets three quarters of the way across, then a vehicle comes by and crushes it. Fate. Now that would merit an apology. That would crush its spirits”
“Different perspectives. Life is relative,” my colleague says, joining if not really adding to the whimsical mood.
“Good thing it doesn’t have our perspective, actually. No thinking. No disappointments. No pain.”
“Ugh” my colleague utters. Now I track his gaze. Up ahead, a second slug appears, similarly colored, only this one was sliced in two.
“It’s a slug exodus,” I say. “Somebody owes it an apology, even though it’s tougher than us. Think about it, because we can. God didn’t give it anymore than it could handle. Look at it, the head. It’s alright, really. It’s smiling, knows its place in the universal order. It doesn’t think as we know it. Doesn’t have a self. As long as one of them makes it, it primitively knows. It lives its truth–like sperm. in fact, they even look like sperm. Golden sperm”
Weird. That’s what my colleague’s face says. He looks at me. He wants to look away, I can tell. Maybe he wonders if my novel is weird, too. He’d know if he read it.
“Sorry, friend. Better luck next time,” he says reverently, looking down at the slug. We look at each other. We appraise.
“Well, somebody should say it,” I say.