When Maggie was younger, she played with snails in our backyard.
She would dig through the dirt, make them little leaf houses, talk to them, and then beg me to let her bring them in her room. This went on for a while and then one day her brother and sister got involved. They grabbed a few snails out of the ivy and put salt on them. They showed their tiny impressionable sister and laughed themselves silly.
I’m not sure how they knew salt took an already structurally iffy snail and turned it into mush. Why candy coat it? Salt kills snails. They goo up and then evaporate. Seems like an awful way to go and I remember for a while thinking my children were that mean sadistic kid in Toy Story.
They joked and teased, as I consoled Maggie who frantically tried to save her “baby nail” village. It was mean, not nice at all, and I’m pretty sure qualified as animal cruelty. Michael knew about the salt/snail thing and while he told them to leave Maggie’s village alone, I know he laughed with them.
I write about siblings a lot. All of my characters have sisters or brothers or both. I am an only child, but I’m interested in the play of siblings. They can be loyal and nasty in the same breath. They say things to each other I never imagined when I used to dream up my perfect big brother. Ripping each other’s eyes out one minute over who ate the last granola bar and then all is forgiven and they’re piled on the couch, legs and arms overlapping, watching a movie.
There’s something about children born of the same parents, or I guess different combinations of parents for that matter, children that share a childhood. They are similar, part of a whole, and yet pulled toward an often stinging independence. It seems a struggle held together by a love I’m not sure they even understand. Brothers and sisters are bonded in history, memories good and bad.
Maggie eventually crossed over to the dark side and asked for her own handful of salt. Poor snails.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Scoot Over.