“Estivate” by Mandy-Suzanne Wong

"Estivate" by Sylvia Yu / sylvia-yu.com

As big as your door an invitation plop on your roof sliding down all over you a long lick slow lick wet cool, the decision before you could mean death, there are birds, there are green lizards, there are other snails but some of them are cannibals. Right now you are sleeping underneath the terracotta lip of a large pot where a succulent lives drooping over you but you cannot eat the succulent, a nibble of hibiscus might be nice if it is not too dry but before that if you eat the seal between your body your shell and the pot if it is very nice another plop will come and find you. Sigh in your sleep dreaming through the seal you secreted to the air in the moment when your eyes are the first inside out to lick the rain, maybe your eyes will taste hibiscus in the air and want to reach out on the tips of your tentacles to the water and continue oozing out as your lip drips your cilia listening to briny scents the taste of home. Maybe you will taste an airborne promise of clover, maybe sunlight will taste like storm the echo of a fungus in the sky when you sniff a raindrop with your cilia and neck foot stomach, maybe you will let the rain make you a slide down to the grass and wash your shell and wet your slime so it flows and the grass and bits of soil balled up by earthworms will caress your stomach through your slime and maybe why not joy. But there is always a but you know there are things crushing without looking, outside the underneath of the lip of the pot where the succulent lives are things that do not need to crush but crush, and since the last time you had a nice slow slide moist down the pot it has been so long you cannot exactly remember, but you know it is likely there is no grass but asphalt, and asphalt is very hot very rough very dry which makes it very hard to walk on, and yes it is true the slime you made out of you would prevent your impalement on whatever plastic things are broken on the asphalt, but it takes a lot of effort to make slime and slide along while also not shriveling in the heat that makes the asphalt hotter and is getting hotter, no you’d rather sleep. Sleep so deep you are almost not there at all not in your shell anymore which takes no effort almost none, so deep asleep you feel no thirst no hunger none of the killing heat, you are here because your ancestors survived ocean voyages and ice ages and the deaths of glaciers in this way being almost not here, yes this is better, better than joy is sleeping through cataclysms.

Mandy-Suzanne Wong is the author of the award-winning fiction chapbook Awabi (Digging Press) and the award-winning nonfiction chapbook Artificial Wilderness (Selcouth Station Press, forthcoming). Her novel Drafts of a Suicide Note (Regal House) was a finalist for the Permafrost Book Prize, a semifinalist for the Conium Review Book Prize, shortlisted for the SFWP Award, and nominated for the PEN Open Book Award. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Entropy, Waccamaw, Quail Bell, Chaleur, Manqué, Cosmonauts Avenue, Permafrost, and other venues.