Tuesday, 5 June 2018
Her name echoed through the house and she knew by her mothers tone, she was in trouble. She shuffled off the bed but decided to say nothing, if she was quiet enough, her Mom might give up calling her.
"Megan!" her Mother yelled again. Looked like that plan backfired.
"Coming," she called, opened the door and stepped out on the landing. She looked over the banister and saw her mother standing in the hall with her fists planted firmly on her hips.
"You brought more of those pests into the house, didn't you?" demanded her Mother which made Megan look down at her shoes. Now all the yelling made sense.
"They're not pests," she whispered into her chest.
"Nothing," she said sadly, twiddling her fingers in front of her dungarees.
"Get down here before I start squishing them!"
"Mom! You can't!" she said rushing down the stairs as quick as her eight-year-old legs would take her. Her Mom wasn't joking, she would squish them, she'd done it before. What Megan didn't understand was how her Mom had found them. She had been very careful to keep the box hidden when she came in from school. She didn't even take them out of her bag. By the time she got to the bottom step everything became clear. Her school bag had fallen from the hook on the wall, her math and English books were lying on the floor along side an empty box with it's lid half popped off. All over the floor were silver snail trails. It was no wonder her Mom was going crazy. Megan scooped up the box and started collecting the snails and popping them back in side.
"They're disgusting!" said her Mom poking one slow moving guy with her foot.
"They can't help the way they look," said Megan, stooping down to gently pick up the snail before her Mom did more than nudge the little guy. Megan didn't understand why people thought snails were icky, she thought they were great. In her opinion they were the best pets ever.
As she gathered the rest, her Mom noticed a particularly wide slime trail vanishing into one of her shoes lying on the floor. She bent down and picked up the bright red stiletto and peered inside.
"That't it!" yelled her Mother as she began whacking the shoe against the banister to dislodge the snail inside.
"Stop, Mom. You're frightening him."
"I'll do more than frighten him when I get him out. Those shoes cost me eighty euro and now they're covered in slime. Look, look! What's that stuff?" Inside the shoe the snail was blowing white foam everywhere, making an already bad situation worse.
"That's Ed Sheeran and he is doing that because you're trying to bash him," said Megan, holding out her hand to take the shoe. Slowly her Mom handed over the footwear, like the guys on TV do with a gun when a cop tells him to. Perhaps that was what she was - Megan, the snail squad. Now she had the shoe she was able to see the mess Ed had made but it was but noting a cloth and some washing up liquid wouldn't fix.
"Come on, Ed, she didn't mean it," said Megan gently picking her hard shelled friend out of the shoe. Ed made a little squeak which was why she'd called him Ed Sheeran. He was a great singer, for a snail that is.
Once she had all the snails gathered she put the lid back on the box and made sure it was secure. She had her foot on the first step of the stairs when her mom said. "And where do you think you're going, young lady?"
"Up stairs," she said, which was silly because anyone could see she was going up the stairs.
"Not with those you're not. They're going back in the garden where they belong. I am not having a repeat of the bat situation."
Oh! The bat situation - again. Grown-ups never let things go. Megan didn't understand what all the fuss was about. A while back, Dad left the attic ladder down and Megan went exploring. She had found the most gorgeous creature. It had dark fur, nearly black, and was about the size of her hamster. Best of all was he had wings! A hamster with wings! She called him, George. Gorgeous George, and she fell in love with him. He was really quiet and slept a lot but that was only to be expected because George was a bat. He only woke up at night when she was asleep. Megan thought George would be hungry when he woke up so she went to get him a snack. She got a block of cheese from the fridge and left it beside him. The next day she pulled a chair onto the landing and managed to get the attic hatch open with the stick Daddy used. The ladder came down and Megan was able to go check on her friend. She was very upset to see that George hadn't eaten any of the cheese, but he was still there, sleeping. This time she left George some ham.
Everyday she brought George something new but he didn't eat anything. One day she was trying him with some carrots when the lights came on and Megan turned to see her Mother's head poking up through the trap door. She got so mad, she said the place was full of rotting food and the rats would come. Megan told her the food was for George, the bat, not rats. When Mom saw George she said he was not sleeping at all. That night Megan cried so hard she thought her eyes would break. Bat situation or no bat situation, Megan thought her mother was being a meenie about the snails.
"That's not fair, its cold outside," she said, crossing her arms and stamping her foot for emphases. Megan was not about to give up on her friends, not without a fight.
"Either you do it or I will," said her Mom, crossing her own arms and putting on the face she thought was scary, but it wasn't.
Megan shook hear head and tightened her arms across her chest.
"Megan," her mom said. This time her name was said in the voice that was serous, not pretend serous, or serous that Megan could wiggle out of, this was serous serous and Megan knew she had lost.
"OK," she said and dragged herself toward the front door as if the worst possible thing waited on the other side of it. Megan could feel little tears at the corner of her eyes but she wasn't going to cry, she didn't like crying even though sometimes she couldn't help herself. Her mom opened the door and stood to one side as Megan walked to the bottom of the garden and sat down at the base of the wall. She opened her box and picked out the snails one by one, resting them under leafs and flowers, where they would be sheltered from the worst of the night. She left Ed for last and whispered to him as she held him against his favorite place, under the lip of concrete at the top.
"I'm sorry Mom scared you, Ed. She just really likes her shoes, like really really. And you're not disgusting, you're handsome, and talented, and really really wonderful. I guess we might look weird to you too." As she spoke, Ed slowly began to poke out his head and uncurl his eyes on the end of stalks. She kept whispering secrets to Ed until he had a good hold of the wall and she could finally let go of his shell. The very last secret she told Ed was to hold on till tomorrow and she would pick them all up again on her way to school.
Megan turned and walked past her mother sulkily, taking each step up the stairs like the sad girl she was. When her Mom came to her room later with a bowl of ice cream and kissed her head, she was still worried about Ed having to spend the night out in the cold. As her Mom left the room she turned and said, "They like it out side, really." Then she pulled the door closed. Megan put the ice cream on her bedside table and took out six boxes from under her bed and opened the lids. Every box was filled with snails.
"Do you like it outside better?" Megan asked. From deep inside a box came a little squeak and Megan smiled. "I didn't think so," Megan said to her friends and began feeding them tiny bits of ice cream which they seemed to love.