Late Night Excursion

It was eleven o’clock at night, and I was alone in a one-bedroom apartment that wasn’t mine. Shad was a petty officer in the Navy, and to help my fiancé out, he’d offered me a place to crash while we set up a new life here in Oak Harbor.
Shad was out doing something Shad-ish and Dave was out as well. I didn’t feel like sleeping, so I was doing the laundry.
It was a rainy September evening, but the weather had not yet turned cold, and I was charmed. Back in Wyoming the frost came early and stayed late. Here the weather was barely dipping into the fifties in the evenings. It came as close to tropical as I had encountered.
Fumbling with the heavy cloth of Dave’s work overalls, I sorted clothes into a plastic tub to carry to the laundry room. The one-bedroom Shad lived in was nice, but not so nice that it had in-house washers and dryers. The downstairs machines were coin-op, as well, which I had never before encountered. Still, I figured that at this late time, there would be very few people vying for the laundry machines. It didn’t occur to me that there may have been a reason for that.
Armed with my tub, laundry soap, and purpose, I strode out into the night, the path lit by the warm familiarity of sodium lamps. I was careful in my tread. The rain had slicked everything down and the wood was treacherous under my bare feet.
I reached the rough rock of the walkway. It wasn’t a configuration I’d seen before – it was made from tiny rocks glued together by some form of concrete, but it left the rocks visible and textured. It wasn’t quite like what I imagined walking on a beach was like, but I hadn’t encountered Washington beaches yet, either. I thought about getting my shoes but it wasn’t a bad texture, and I didn’t want to start over again.
I took a step down from the side walkway to the main one. There was a sudden crunch followed by a slimy squish, under the ball of my foot. I looked down.
Snails, five or six of them, stared in mute horror at the execution of their friend, who dissolved onto the small rocks, his shell cracked like an egg.
I couldn’t force myself to take another step. I didn’t know about snails! My grandmother once told me that there were two things that were the worst to step on. Those that went crunch, and those that went squish.
Snails did both.
Horrified, disgusted, and guilty, I fled back upstairs to the apartment. The laundry could wait.

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