"The Nine-Month Snail Dance": A story of finding beauty and acceptance amidst loss and transitions

During 2020, there was this period of 9 months, right after the first quarantine in Israel, I lived in through in Tel Aviv. The first 8 of those months, I lived in this old house on a street called Exodus. Exodus no. 27. The house belonged to 4 brothers who had inherited the estate from their late parents. The photographs of the late couple filled the living room, along with old school furniture and a chandelier. It was 6-minute walk from the neighborhood market—and it was infested with cockroaches. They were everywhere. Creeping and crawling from the compost bin in the garden, situated conveniently between a lemon tree and a red rose bush that was decorating my windowsill. This was the first time in my adult life that I'd lived on a ground floor. I felt like a foreigner living in a faraway land.


People in my age group spoke an entirely different language. They were speaking Hebrew; but there were colloquial turns of phrase that felt like a foreign language to me. I felt old, like no one bothered to update my software. My MacBook Air must feel this way. Poor thing.


It wasn't too bad though. Some parts of my stay in the big city were quite exciting. Like this one time that a snail came to shower with me. Or more accurately, I came to shower with him/her. Snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they can make baby snails on their own, but they must know how important diversity is for the sake of the prosperity of the species, so they choose to make baby snails with their snail partners, even though they don't have to.


I think I was pregnant at the time. I didn't realize I was, until the day I buried my mom, this is when I came to realize that the blood that gushed through me 6 days before my mom's passing was not my monthly period, but my two-month-old fetus being ejected from the warmth of my womb into the cold waters of the ceramic toilet.


The snail must have sensed the life that was beaming within me. It was a wall snail. Its tentacles grew wide open as I opened the stream of water in the old shower.


Above me, hung a rainbow umbrella, reminding me of my artistic endeavors that summer. My ex-husband gifted me the umbrella on my request, no special occasion, just because. He was a good guy but our marriage couldn't survive the tolls my mom's Alzheimer's had on me and what was remaining of my poor mental health. We were too young and too inexperienced in tolerating emotional pain. It showed. I loved the umbrella and I loved him more, and I hated him not being around anymore so the umbrella had to go. This old love had to become new art. I saw no other way of handling the situation.


The snail's tentacles were spreading out further and further. Erect and slimy. I turned off the water in the shower and watched my companion on this cool November afternoon. I saw its tentacles shrink by the second. I turned on the water again. I watched intently, as if hypnotized. The mollusc’s body was rejuvenating, engorged with the new found humidity. I played this game again and again. Water on, water off. Imitating my new friend, I spread my arms wide open, hoping that, if anything, the sense of home would stick with me for a bit longer. At least for as long as the shower curtain was drawn and the snail was dancing its snail dance.

To read the illustrated version of the story, please visit Jassica Fan's website


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liza futerman

Liza Futerman

My lifelong goal is to spread awareness about the intricacies of our nervous systems, emphasizing the importance of tuning into our bodies as a pathway to enhancing resilience both on an individual level and within our communities.

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