Slugs

When you step on a slug its body acts like an overfilled plastic bag. Eyestalks stretch then balloon and pop, spewing out greenish-yellow who-knows-what all over the bottom of your shoe. Slugs use the slime that coats their bodies to move around. The thick film of mucus keeps the body from rupturing all the way as your foot comes down on it. Instead, you get a dead slug that looks kinda like a baked potato; split down the middle with green and red insides gushing out.

She rambled on and on about this shit, yet I’m glad that we spoke. I miss my sister. In that moment, there was something in her voice as she smacked her lips against a piece of pink bubblegum that filled my blood with adrenaline.

“You’ve been acting strange today,” she said. She put her dark hair in a ponytail and brushed something gray off her sweater. “You’re not depressed again, are you?”

In truth I was, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it. Those words weighed heavy on my tongue. When I thought about admitting what I’d done earlier, I wanted to cry. I mumbled something about feeling OK and I tapped my fingers on the table. She cocked her head in confusion. I was dumb enough to confess anyway.

“I had this dream last night,” I lied, “I was in an old station wagon with no breaks. They were gone, somebody took ’em out to try and kill me.” 

She blew out the candle on the table and said something to the effect of, well, are you ready to go? I said yes, she grabbed the car keys off the table, and we were on our way. I looked her up and down and I’ve only just realized something about her. I think she already knew what I was up to and why I had a toolbag out near the car. She had a scared look in her eyes. 

For a while I dreamed. Weeks, in fact. In my head it was my little sister’s fifth birthday. Pink streamers, pigtails, and wrapped-up Barbie dolls. Fistfuls of purple paper flew from her hands as she ripped presents open, one by one. The smell of chlorine wafted over from the pool, into the playroom. Everyone fanned themselves with birthday cards; doused their dry throats with red Hawaiian punch. Summertime. We craned our necks in discomfort, as though something perched there like how Atlas carries the globe. I felt that way; I knew she’d be devastated if I killed myself. I was burdened with the weight of the world on my shoulders. After a while, I noticed something. I heard a faint, repetitive beeping, and then I woke up.

I was in a full-body cast. Doctors were sympathetic. She didn’t survive the crash, they said, you’re the lucky one. She hit the windshield like a slug underneath a shoe. The car crash looked like an accident. I cried and cried all day, unsure of why I did it.

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