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Running for the Bus, with Snails by Brittany Thomas

‘Because the world is so astonishing, the snails — to take just one of the many possible examples — are so short, and it is all too great for me to think about alone. Or at all’

Annie Dillard, ‘Lonesome, with Snails’

When it rains the snails perform a mass exodus onto the pavement. They ooze out of the ground and from under garden planters and from inside of outdoor rubbish bins. Their tiny snail bodies expand and contract as they race (in snail terms) toward what amounts to a communal murder by commuters. October mornings are strewn with the husks of snail bodies - carrion for magpie and jackdaw. British land snails are a ‘difficult’ group in animal identification, says the Field Studies Council. Which is to say a snail is just a slug with a house, a slimy garden invader, an unwanted sidewalk companion. Unless you are a corvid, then a snail is a buffet, an open season. If you are a commuter, you are also a part-time snail butcher. Every accidental crunch reminds me of other shores like autumn leaves on campus in upstate, like shards of ancient pottery churning their way out of Italian farmland, like gravel on the beach in Brighton. The sound of a swift death. The snails, so small, and I, a world-ending titan in combat boots, both in a hurry.


Brittany Thomas is a queer writer who was born and raised in upstate New York and currently lives in London. Her writing appears in Bullshit Lit, Fifth Wheel Press’s Come Sail Away anthology, JAKE, Scrawl Place, The Daily Drunk Magazine, and Queerlings. You can find her online @britomatic

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