Short Read: A Snail’s Search, Part V

There is beauty before you, she said. Look for it. Gaston heard the words as he awoke from his dream. Who had said these words – almost whispered – as he floated in the twilight realm between sleep and wakefulness? He needed to find out. He shifted his shell and continued on.

The shady spot under the leafy tree looked inviting, so Gaston decided to stop and get his bearings. He could easily have been going in circles – without a map, he simply didn’t know. The humidity was building, hinting at an approaching storm, and the wind had also picked up. He felt very alone, and wondered if his quest was foolhardy.

As he looked around, he noticed that there were interesting fossils embedded in the stones beneath him: he wasn’t sure what they were, but they were lovely and oddly comforting. The scalloped shapes were smooth and pale, as though worn down by water and bleached by sun. Gaston couldn’t help touching them, tracing their ridges and smooth surfaces.

“Did you know this area was once an ancient seabed?” The disembodied voice seemed to float down to him. Gaston looked around, but couldn’t see anyone.

“I’m right here,” the voice said. “Don’t you see me?” Gaston swiveled his head, looking high and low. But saw no one.

Then, she was right in front of him. “Hello,” she said. Gaston realized she was a jumping spider. A glorious jumping spider. “Hello,” he responded, awestruck.

Angeline was no ordinary jumping spider. She was the most beautiful spider he’d ever seen. She was wonderfully furry, with bold markings and bright, shiny eyes. Gaston didn’t know about the area having been a seabed. What was a seabed?

After introductions had been made, Angeline explained that the Blue that Gaston knew was only one kind of body of water and that, very far away, another kind existed, where creatures whose shells remained in the limestone (and that Gaston admired) lived. Angeline also told Gaston that the creatures were actually much like him. No wonder he felt drawn to them.

She was a friendly spider, very warm and charming. When Gaston asked her about the Red, though, she frowned. “Yes, I’ve heard of the Red, but I’ve never known anyone who has actually been there. I believe it’s a real place, though.” Angeline looked intently at him and said “when you get there, you’ll know it – and you’ll know you’re supposed to be there.”

Then, she gently touched his shell and jumped high into the tree. “If anyone can get there, Gaston, you can. I believe in you. Look for the beauty.” Gaston did a double-take: what had she said? Did he imagine it? It was just like the dream voice. Gaston looked at the spot where he thought she’d landed, but there was no trace. Angeline was gone.

Once again, Gaston was alone on his journey. But he felt an odd sense of confidence – and a conviction that as long as he kept moving forward, he would reach his destination. He would look for beauty, and, in doing so, would (hopefully) find himself where he wanted – and needed – to be. As the first big raindrops fell, he left the protection of the tree’s fronds and continued toward the Red.