When I turn over the white stone there one is. A large snail taking refuge in its mottled shell and stuck fast to the rough surface. With two fingers I gently loosen its suction until it surrenders and I can place it in the girl’s trembling hand.
“Thank you Snail, for letting us hold you.”
The girl looks up at me from beneath raised eyebrows as if to say, “Really? Talking to a snail?!”
The snail seeps out from under its shell. Its antennae grow longer and longer and the girl’s eyes grow wider and wider.
“Oh, my days!!”
“Ah, it’s relaxed with you and now it wants to have a look around.” I reassure her.
“It’s tickling - it better not poop on me.” she warns. I am ready with a hand underneath hers in case of a sudden drop.
Children had begun to gather round, six pairs of human eyes bearing down on one venturing snail.
“Woah!” exclaims one boy as the snail, sliding on its frilly foot, makes it to the edge of the girl’s palm. The girl’s face is creeping closer all the while, drawn in by this novel encounter. An undaunted explorer, the snail, reaches out with her (or is it his?) whole body into the empty air. She finds the girl’s thumb and smushes her soft flesh against it, slipping over the crevasse.
The next child waits patiently while the Snail transitions from one human’s thumb to another’s.
“Bye bye little one.” Not my words this time, but hers.