Escargoes | A Children’s Fable

There was once a town that had a nice park. It was always busy. People would ride their bikes, families would sit under trees having picnics and exuberant children played in the playground. In this park was a small snail. He was always humming happily and in an upbeat mood. One day, the snail was making his slow way to the bushes lining the paved path. “I can’t wait to go home,” he said to himself. His body slithered across the ground and a trail of slime showed his progress.

After a few minutes, the snail finally reached the bushes and was about to climb onto his home leaf when he was picked up from the ground. He saw the bush grow smaller and smaller as he was lifted into the air and turned his head to see who had abducted him. It was a little freckled boy with overalls and dirty hands. The boy grinned down at the snail maliciously and placed him on the ground further down the path, far away from his home leaf.

“Hmm… I didn’t want to go here,” the snail said. “Oh, well. I’ll just turn around and head back home.”

Seeing the snail struggle to turn around, the boy laughed and walked away. The snail was used to this. Children would often be intrigued by his shell and would pick him up to examine him and then place him somewhere else, far away from where he had intended to go. He would always just sigh and resignedly slither back to his intended destination.

This he now did and after a while was almost to his leaf again. But the boy had been watching him. He ran up to the snail, laughing, snatched him up and took him off course again. He placed him in the sand near the playground.

“Ok, this is getting annoying now,” the snail said. “I just want to go home. Why is that kid picking on me?”

The snail grew afraid as he tried to dodge the massive shoes of the running children. The sand stuck to his body and made his normally sluggish progress even more painfully slow.

In this way, for the third time, the snail attempted to reach his home leaf. And again, when he was about to reach the leaf, the boy came running back to pick him up. This time, the snail had had enough. “That’s it!” He declared. He pressed the length of his body to the boy’s hand and stuck to it with all his strength and sticky slime. The boy gasped and tried to put the snail down but he wouldn’t budge. He jerked his hand left and right but still the snail stubbornly stuck to his palm. Seeing the world whirl by and colors blur together made the snail dizzy but he held on tight.

Finally, with a shriek the boy wildly flung his hand and, not being able to fight such force, the snail flew off the boy’s palm. He turned a few times in the air, and closed his eyes fearfully anticipating the sickening crunch when he hit the ground, but to his amazement he landed on a leaf in his home bush.

The boy however, lost his balance and fell on his butt onto a pile of dog poo. He got up and burst into tears. He ran off to his mother on the other side of the park yelling something unintelligible, but to the snail it sounded something like “Karma.” The snail was thrilled to see him run off and did a little happy dance on his leaf, swinging his feelers left and right and jiggling his shelled butt. “Haha!” He cried. “That’s what you get. I won’t be a pushover anymore!” At this, the snail did a jump, slipped and slid off of his leaf, landing with a thud on the ground below. A dog happened to pass by at that same moment, saw him lying unconscious, and picked him up in his mouth. The snail got carried away.

– Paola Crespo ©2012

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