Check out Percival's tale!
Inspired by Elisabeth Tova Bailey's The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, and produced by our very own Miss Dennehy. (Just click the image).
Do you want to know more about Percival's snail-ventures?
I sit with my back against the door staring into the room. Torches flicker in the sconces that dance muted oranges and yellows around my chamber. As I sigh, my breath comes as a milky white mist.
The room is cold.
I sit here in my blue gown that sports rips and patches of sweat from months of wear. I pray for a bath, new clothes, a friend, or just to leave this damned room.
Alas, I cannot.
I am under lock and key. My world is in here and their world is out there. My world is small and bleak, theirs is endless and jolly. My father has forced me to stay. The icy bite of this room doesn’t bother me anyway; but my father insists that opening the door to me, to my frigid world, would cause his people harm. So I stay.
Knock, knock, knock.
The sharp wraps echo through my chamber stirring me from my self-pity. A familiar voice sounds through the key-hole.
“Sister, are you in there?”
Her voice is almost melodic. It resonates with a childish purity and it’s all I can do not to stand and answer her. I can feel her body pressed against the other side of the door. Her loving glow penetrates the door and warms me inside but my hands remain crusted by a cracked frost. The same frost that spackles my carpets and bedding.
I try to swallow the lump in my throat. “Go away, Anna!” I yell through the door. I feel her glow fade and the warmth that was within me is replaced by that all familiar cold. Tears fall and freeze to my cheeks.
She comes everyday to call on me. I used to speak with her through the door but now I only greet her with a blunt shout or silence. The cold in here is starting to seep into my character.
I remain still here for some minutes, or perhaps it’s hours, or days. Time seems to freeze with everything else in this room.
Three sharp knocks sound again.
Oh lord, why won’t she leave me alone? She only wants to play but she knows I cannot. Why is she furthering our pain? There's a duality that burns cold within me. My happiness stands on the other side of this door. My freedom runs in the halls outside this door. My friends sit beside fires with their family outside this door. I am left here to freeze, alone, on the wrong side of this door.
Three sharp knocks sound again.
This is torture. She shouts through the door again. My head whirls and my mouth is dry. Leave me alone, sweet sister! Leave me alone! I cannot bring myself to scream.
Three sharps knocks sound again. Her voice through the door.
“Do you want to build a snowman?”
Time and Space Example
This time. This, time. This time was both vast, swallowing up everything, with no end in sight, and minute. Seconds landed heavily and carelessly, like a downpour, for minutes and seconds and hours had taken on the same, formless shape. Time, always strange, now never stranger.
The time it took to make a pot of coffee. The time it took to wash, really wash, your hands. To schedule a call. To wait for the conversation to come or be cancelled. The time it took to not just remember to double lock the door after your once daily walk, but to carry your limbs over and unlock it again sometime after. More still, to have yourself step outside.
Time, always strange, now never stranger.
Outside, key in her back pocket, Jen rolled her chin over the rim of her mug, down into her barely warm coffee. If time had lost all meaning, she didn’t see there was much reason to stay locked in at a human five-foot six, somewhere between twenty and forty. She could be it or them, singular matter or a plurality, at scale or microscopic. She decided to experiment.
It would just be so simple to be a particle – and not a human particle, no, that was barred – but say, a liquid coffee particle. Or a sky pigment. Or a fragment of a double yellow line. Or a fizzing of energy down a nerve, behind an eye. Coffee particles didn’t think they smelt like coffee. Didn’t think, full stop. They merely bobbed about in a collective, cloudy existence, enveloped by luxurious heat and innate stimulation, like an influencer in a hot tub. Warmth swishing comfortably across my particulate shoulders – okay, not shoulders, because that was human, or at least animal, so that was barred. My curved particle wall, then, holding me up, comforting me, except, surely, the heat would be coming from myself …
How about, if I sink down low enough, I could be a microbe on the pavement? A fleck in that double yellow line. I would just recline and recline, and bask in the light, and absorb every drop of heat, and have such strength, yet have no need to exert it, I’d be far too small for danger. But then, can a microbe even be ‘I’? Does ‘I’ have to be able to call itself that, to be given?
Now, to be a sky pigment, that would be something. Imagine how liberating that would be. Nothing to do but carry colour, or facilitate it, depending on the wash of sunlight, the density of the clouds. To be weightless and out of reach, watching life from above like a drone. Except, does a sky pigment compute, or enjoy, or observe? Surely there would be some molecular action? But ‘enjoy’, and ‘observe’? Were those innately human-given attributes and abilities? The beauty of the pigment was to be without knowing, and therefore, be free.
Or maybe being a particle, any particle, maybe it was in fact far more like the experience of a packed tube during a heatwave. Strange armpits in faces, elbows jagged in hips, bags and caps filling every available crevice, commuters and travellers and life of all kinds buoying up each carriage with its collective, puzzling mass. Unspeaking, sweating, resigned. Waiting to escape its boundary.
Jen finished the last slug of cold coffee, sun hot on her face, and sighed, over and over, not knowing what to think. She checked her watch and made to step back inside, possibly for days. For now, at least, it was about time she did some yoga.