This short story appeared in the spring edition of 34 Orchard magazine. Click here to download a free copy of the issue.
Katrina is having a hard time watching her teenage daughter grow up. Luckily she has her garden and her beloved slugs to help her pull through.
The thorny blossom of my womb.Katrina, from Mollusk Madness by Priscilla Bettis
This story is multilayered and covers a lot of ground in a few pages. What is even more incredible is that most of these layers are exposed and explored while the main character watches a pair of slugs mate.
Bettis has a lyrical descriptive style that conveys a lot in a few words. Look at the quote above for an example. It’s almost poetry. What a phenomenal image, which shows so much about the character and her relationship with her daughter.
This story is all about relationships. Katrina’s connection to her husband and daughter, her neighbor, her slugs, and even herself. She’s an unhappy woman, resenting her middle age and her daughter’s youth, with echoes of The Evil Queen and Snow White. Naturally, her unhappiness has put a strain on her family.
It’s great when a story teaches you something. I thought I knew all about slug reproduction, but Bettis taught me a new aspect to certain mollusk mating rituals. The descriptions of the slugs are stunning, turning an every day creature into something extraordinary and beautiful.
I initially felt slightly disappointed by the ending, as it seemed to lack the nuance and subtlety of the rest of the tale, but I realized that Katrina shared similarities with Lucretia from another Bettis story, and I discovered the extra depth I sought.
I award Mollusk Madness…