It was a hot summer afternoon, still humid from last night’s raging storm. I looked out the window to see if the backyard had turned into a swamp, and sure enough, it had.

A grin on my face, I ran barefoot toward the rope that hung from a tree at the water’s edge. It was calling to me in its silent motionless state, waiting for what it knew would come next.

Two steps away, I launched myself into the air, grasped the twisted, rough, and somewhat worn length of rope, then swung Tarzan-style into the vast puddle beneath me. As I soared forward, the air tugged at my hair and the light peaked curiously between the leaves to see what the commotion was:

It was me.

Disrupting the stillness of the water so that it rose in waves and droplets around me, my feet sank into the soggy earth, mud squelching between my toes. It was cool and satisfying, the surface of the water resting just below my knees as it settled down.

This experience warranted repeating.

I made my way back toward the edge of the body of water, noticing the debris the storm had shaken loose from the trees and left to sink in watery grave.

That’s when I froze.

I hunched down, closer to the surface, where I could see more clearly what surrounded me in my little oasis.


It looked like there were hundreds of them.

Watery grave indeed—these slugs had risen from beneath the earth, struggling without success to find oxygen. They lay scattered across the bottom of the entire lake-like puddle, a tribute to their lost struggle.

I screamed.

As a side note, I’ve emphasized more than once that I am a fan of insects, and….well I actually had a few pinned to my cube wall at work. But—

Slugs are not insects.

I think I exited the water faster than I had entered it, dodging this way and that to avoid stepping on one of these ugly, slimy creatures, not daring to picture what a misplaced step would look and feel like.

Back on dry land, I didn’t stop running. I ran as fast as I could, straight into the house, and found my younger sister.

“Hey!” I said, “Want to race to the rope swing?”

Always up for some healthy competition, my sister readily agreed.

And–what do you know—she won.

(C) 2023 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.

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