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Submitted on
March 5, 2012
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104 (who?)
Curled like a tadpole in the confines of the ball turret, he slips into his mind and enters the first nautilus ring of memory.


He sees a potting shed littered with terra cotta fragments, soft loam, and quietly rotting tomato vines. It is fall now, and the place hasn't been used for nearly a month, not that his mother was ever much of a gardener - she prefers the career of a socialite, and complains constantly about this heathen life in the country. His father yells whenever she embarks on a new tirade, and his mother drinks something out of a square-cut glass bottle that looks as though it were pilfered from Oz, and then everything is still again. For a while.

He watches himself enter the shed, gawky and fair. Tears have made a paisley pattern of sorts in the skim of blood on his pale cheek, and the skin about his eye looks like an oval of wet blotter paper rife with plum-colored ink. He purloins a splinter of stake from the tomato ruins, and in his rage and helplessness, assaults the spiracles of a nearby snail until it shrivels and twists and finally goes still.

He shivers and casts the splinter as far away from him as he possibly can.


In the second ring of memory, she stands inside the skeleton of a charred house. She is still, and calm, and clearly more than a little numb, though the clenched spirals of her tiny hands indicate at least some awareness of calamity. He cautiously walks behind her and places a hand upon her delicate shoulder. He can see the pale blue veins of her neck pulsing. They are oddly beautiful.

At a loss for what to say - and he never was a man of many words - he rummages awkwardly in his left pocket. A familiar curve graces his fingertips, and he fingers the brittle snail shell as he whispers inaudibly, "I don't want anything to hurt ever again."

The next week, the German planes return, and he stands beside her hospital bed as the woman quietly fades away.


The man in the ball turret is crying, but no one can see, and with a wave of revulsion, he flings his hands away from the trigger mechanisms of the twin .50 caliber machine guns.

"We can make life however we want it to be," he says quietly to himself.


They flush his carcass from the B-17 in the evening like gourmands scraping the meat out of a particularly recalcitrant piece of escargot. A snail shell rolls out of his hand in the process, and someone steps on it. Its fragile whorls smear like chalk on the runway. Life goes on.
A story about a memory palace shaped like a snail-shell. And WWII. Also a rather late-ish something for :iconwriters-workshop:'s Flash Fiction and Compressed Poetry Workshop, if they'll have it.

Inspired by Soap&Skin's song "Spiracle" and the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner," by Randall Jarrell.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-10-25
House of the Snail by *orphicfiddler is a beautifully poetic snapshot of the WWII era. ( Featured by DorianHarper )
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
AquaGalaxy Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013
congratulations on the DD! >w<
LostGryphin Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Amazing! Love the concept and the imagery!
srcpcsoha Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Congrats on the DD! Have a good day~
mizzmint Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on having your piece featured as one of today's Daily Deviations! :glomp:

Well deserved :heart:
lintu47 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    Congrats on the DD! :dalove: Have a nice day! :heart:
robson666 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Hobbyist
congratulations to the well deserved Daily Deviation  Clap
Manigran Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Just superb. Superb writing, superb imagery, superb idea that ties the story together. Brilliant!

And congratulations on the DLD!
orphicfiddler Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012
Thank you so much! :heart:
Manigran Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome.
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