THE SNAIL AND HIS TRAIL
‘Our trail,’ said Mother Snail, ‘makes us special. No other creature leaves a glittering path behind. See how beautifully our trails glisten in the sun and show us where we’ve been.’
‘I’m not interested in where I’ve been,’ said Baby Snail, ‘that’s boring. I’m only interested in where I’m going.’
Baby Snail slid forward and away. He was tired of having his whereabouts known.
‘Everywhere I go, my trail follows me,’ he said grumpily.
Later that day when he was alone and without his mother knowing, Baby Snail started to practise turning off his trail. He began by concentrating with all his might and tightening every pore. And before long, could stop the trail in dotted lines of stops and starts.
‘What an amazing feat,’ he said to himself. ‘Now I’m no longer tied to the past; to where I’ve been and what I’ve done before.’
He continued to practise.
By the time he was a teenage snail and longing for greater independence, Snail was able to go several inches without leaving a speck. Moving about this way grated a little, especially over the bumpy pathways that surrounded his favourite vegetable garden. But most of the time it felt grand to be sliding free and unencumbered; moving from place to place without leaving any evidence of himself.
When Snail was fully grown and all alone he came to the attention of a magpie, who liked to sit on the clothes line next to Snail’s vegetable garden. The magpie was warbling a daybreak song when he noticed the trail-less snail.
‘Beaut day for a walk,’ said the magpie.
‘I don’t know what you mean,’ said Snail, chewing on a crispy lettuce leaf.
‘I suppose not,’ said the magpie. ‘You don’t walk, as much as slide.’
‘I can slide without leaving a trail,’ said Snail. He had come into the garden through a forest of spiky artichoke plants. But now, he was no longer under cover. The sky above was visible and blue, with dashes of black and white.
‘You’re quite an individual,’ said the magpie, ‘and so large and juicy.’
‘I’m quite tough really,’ said Snail in a trembling voice. ‘Moving about without a trail has left me stringy and gritty.’
Snail tried to remember which path he’d taken into the vegetable garden. Where was the protective canopy of artichoke plants?
‘If only I had a trail to follow,’ Snail thought.
He knew he needed to quicken his pace, and squirted out a blob of slime to lubricate his way. It took a lot of concentration. It was a peculiar, almost lost sensation.
But it was too late. Magpie swooped down and cracked Snail’s shell with one swift crunch.
You cannot know where you are going, unless you know where you have been.