The rain has let up and she’s walking her dog in the neighbourhood park. Broadleaf maples tower above the trail forming a canopy, leaves gleaming bright green, scrubbed of dust. Streams of golden pollen pool at the trail’s edge.
The air smells washed, new. There’s a word for it, she thinks.
She says it out loud. Pe. Tri. Cor. Her mouth holds a round “O” on the last syllable. She touches her lips, smiling despite the chafing, remembering his hands in her hair, the rough stubble on his chin that left her skin raw.
After a few weeks of texting, they had met over drinks last night. He said he felt a connection the moment he saw her profile online. Mother of dog and lover of nature. He asked if he could touch her hand, and then he asked if he could kiss her.
When she woke this morning, he was snoring softly, his face squashed into the pillow, hair sticking up in a way that made her stifle a laugh, legs tangled in knotted sheets. Her dog was panting at the bedroom door, and she’d slipped out.
“Back soon,” she had whispered.
She almost steps on something on the trail. She tugs the leash, pulling the chocolate lab’s nose away from one of many dark blobs, glistening and tumescent, curled on the ground.
She realizes they are slugs, scattered everywhere.
There are a variety of sizes and colours, different species whose names remind her of designer swatches – gray garden, leopard, banana, and licorice. They strut the gravel path, heads up, antennae erect. Rainbows sparkle in the slime trails oozing in their wake. You could almost forget the damage they do to tender plants at night.
I’ll stop at the bakery on the way home, she decides, picking up the pace. Bring back fresh bagels and the good coffee.
She has no idea that, at the same moment, he’s lifting his jacket from the back of the chair, stuffing bare feet into tooled Italian shoes because he can’t find his socks. She doesn’t imagine returning to an empty apartment and her hopes congealing, cold as the coffee that sits untouched. She’ll text had a great time last night (smiley face emoji) and he will ignore it, as well as all future texts.
The rain starts again, a light sprinkle fresh on her cheeks. She smells cinnamon from the bakery and imagines brushing errant crumbs from his face. She urges the dog to hurry.
“Slugs in Designer Colours” was first published in Reflex Press, 2022.
FEATURED IMAGE: Eva Lewarne “With Toby”, 2022. Acryllic on Canvas. 40 H X 30 W inches, Available through Gallea Gallery. https://www.gallea.ca/en/artists/eva-lewarne . Toronto Ontario https://www.evalewarne.com/
DK Eve is grateful to live, work and play in the traditional territory of T’Sou-ke people in British Columbia, Canada. She is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s The Writers Studio, drawing on Vancouver Island’s characters and settings in award-winning poetry and short prose. She won first prize for short stories in the 2021 Island Short Fiction and Word on the Lake contests. Recent work appears in Reflex Press (April 2022), Where We Reside (chapbook – Sooke Writers Collective 2022), and Subjectiv journal (Spring 2021). Follow @dkevewriter on Instagram and @Doni_Eve on Twitter.