As a child, I once poured a heap of table salt onto a brown slug, watched it partially dissolve, then used a stick to slough off its damaged skin. Somewhere, I’d heard that slugs don’t like salt.
(I want to tell you something about living: Regrets come like mosquitos, nagging then silent…then nipping in droves. Burdens build with time like pebbles put into pockets on a long journey—filling finally to the seams—loosening the threads to bursting until, at last, we follow them into the earth.)
There was an air of theatre about it all. A tiny body dancing around a tinier body splayed out on the pavers. I palmed the tub of Morton’s with dirty fingers and pulled open the metal spout, a mouth agape in anticipation. I saw in myself a scientist.
(I want to tell you something about living: Life is a series of questions that arrive at unsatisfactory answers, boring you enough to go out and search for more. There are many questions we stop ourselves from asking because it would leave us raw, skinned down to our organs and exposed. Light burns while it cleanses. Most times, I’d rather drink in the dark.)
I poured an avalanche. I made a salt mountain and let it sit for some time in the early autumn sun and stared at the shadow spit beside it, the size of a thumb. I wondered how long to wait for death.
(I want to tell you something about living: We are all imposters when faced with our grandest visions of ourselves, like Baccarat crystal filled with Carlo Rossi. Better to be a plastic party cup, filled with low expectations and durable when dropped.)
I dusted off the salt; snow falling on flagstone. The slug gray, inert. I gripped the stick in my hand so hard it left divots in my skin. I scraped the stick across the top of the tiny body crudely—not like casting a spell or conducting an orchestra—but an arrow piercing a target. I was suddenly sick at having asked the question.
(Now, you tell me something: Pity my pockets, make it a small wonder; light through a glass marble or a whiff of rare perfume. Pity my threadbare pockets near to breaking but with room enough for a few more trinkets, some more bobbles and buttons and twine, that say nothing alone, but paint a life when placed gently into the crease beside my aching hip.)