Setting: Sidewalk outside the Swedish Cancer Institute, Seattle.
The muted gray skies overhead threatened rain, continuous and perfect in their covering, like a comforter that’s been been brought inside from overnight in the back of the car. But as usual, only a few small sprinklings were coming down in patches. Truly November had come for the Pacific Northwest. Our protagonist Diana stood, quietly. Staring into the middle distance of a planter grate, whereupon a sapling Alder tree eagerly grew.
“they’re like weeds” Diana muttered to herself. “These Alder trees. They shoot up on any soggy patch of ground.”
Her unfocused eyes noticed movement near the roots of the Alder, snapping her out of the sour mood, and drawing her curiosity.
Stooping to get a better look, she noticed the minute movement was from a pair of cleverly camoflauged banana slugs. This season they have dark leopard spots on their gray-yellow bodies. Slimy, and oozing. Like a metastatic cup of bad lemon yogurt left on the counter over the weekend. There were two of them, creeping along the low trunk of the callow Alder. Diana had never seen slugs interact before. They always seemed so forgettable. So small and alien. They were disgusting pests. But with her new diagnosis, her perspective had begun to change. She continued to watch as the two slugs approached, tasting each other’s trails. Following along, in order to find each other’s bodies. And finally they met.
The eroticism was powerful. As they touched, their antennae retracted momentarily, but as they tasted each other they discovered they were two of a kind. Circling into a yin-yang of passion, the two slugs climbed onto each other, head to tail, each one attempting to deposit its sperm in the other’s rudimentary vagina. For slugs are hermaphroditic, Diana remembered as much from high school biology. Each one was both fully male and female.
As the wind off of Lake Union kicked up, Diana was racked by a sudden chill. Perhaps we all have such hidden natures.
As she strode to the bus stop the two slugs finished their fornication. An act at least twice as sexually charged as human interactions.