I'm not a mark on the wall, I'm actually a snail




Brief info: This is a retelling of Virginia Woolf's short story The Mark on the Wall. It also has a brief crossover to her other short story, Kew Gardens (but you don't need to have read Kew Gardens in order to understand). I hope you like it!:)

Perhaps it was the middle of January in the present that she first looked up and saw me on the wall. It was winter time and they had just finished their tea and I saw how she lit up a cigarette. I was on the wall above the mantelpiece, grateful that if I fell it would most likely be into the round glass bowl on the mantelpiece. That, or I would meet the same faith as my friends in the French kitchens; fried to death. During my many years as a surviving snail, I had been close to dangerous situations before. I had a near-death experience when I first met her in Kew Gardens. Some people had just declared me as a metaphor of humanity and first I was flattered. Then I realized they meant I symbolized man’s struggle in life. I’m not even sure what it means, but I’m an overthinker, okay?  I’ve never considered myself sensitive, but that actually hurt. Then one thing lead to another and somehow I managed to land on her cloak and, well, here I am.

The following time I was head over heels. It was something about her eyes, something with the way she looked at me, which made me feel special. That was until she mumbled:

“I don’t believe it was made by a nail after all; it’s too big, too round, for that.”

My shell might not be perfectly symmetrical, but I was offended. And regarding the whole ‘nail-thing’--she meant snail, right? The only thing that could make the situation worse was if she hadn’t even noticed I was a snail. Maybe I was right, I thought. Someone like her could never be with someone like me.

So there I was, existing on the wall. Looking back, I realize it might be seen as a creepy. At least she didn’t see me. Okay, I realized the last sentence didn’t really make it better. But remember, it is an effort for me to move. It was an effort to get there in the first place--I had to slime all my way from the cloak to a safer place--and now I would have to do the same thing all over again. I’m lazy.

Then I remember how I hold my breath. Was she going to sit up? Was it the moment I had waited for, both so dreadfully, worryingly and yet hopingly, that she would get up and finally come to me. Get the answers to the questions I could see in her face she was asking, and hopefully be pleased when she saw me. She didn’t--the attempt to stand up was soon demolished and I would never get the answer why.

I tried not to think too much of him. Maybe it was a brother? Or another type of relative? I will never forget the look he gave me towards the end when he saw me.

Then I heard her whisper: hole. Holy shit, there was a hole somewhere? I should be careful - maybe that was what she was trying to say to me. I looked behind me. Then I realized I was the hole. Soon after I heard her mumble:

“It may even be caused by some round black substance…”

I know I hadn’t had the time to work out in order to fulfil my ten-week program of shaping my body to a more fit version compared to this loose one, but once again I was offended. My body might be a bit loose in some parts, but I am not a substance. But then she continued with: … such as a small rose leaf… and immediately I felt slightly better.

Then she continued mumbling, almost whispering fragments:

“Shakespeare… Heaven …. Romantic…”

Her eyes were still steadily looking at me, and I started to wonder if she felt what I felt. Love. Perhaps all of this had been some sort of poetry, prose, poetic riddle. I felt flattered, I felt happy, I felt love. I was falling deeply for her.


One moment I was listening intensely to her soft words, in another I felt how I lost my grip and was sure I would meet my maker at the other side of that fire, perhaps together with the other French snails. Then I felt how my shell hit against the round, glass bowl. I was urgent to get back to the wall, that was why I only three hours later was back again, beating my personal record with twenty minutes! Every time I looked back, she seemed to have the same vague indecipherable look on her face. Had she even noticed I fell?

“Nothing is proved, nothing is known.”

Once again she gave me a fragment, a clue I did not know how to decode. I got a feeling this one-way communication always had been two-way, without me knowing it. It was if she almost read my mind

“The train of thought.”

I couldn’t help but fall more and more deeply for her. Her mind astonished me, telling me there was something wild and beautiful together with these philosophic fragments I got piece by piece. Perhaps it was fate trying to bring us together by letting us meet in Kew Gardens. Of all cloaks, it was, after all, hers I had entered without knowing. It can’t be a coincidence.

After all, my friend Barry had been in a relationship with a human after finishing college. They even made a movie about him. Maybe we could be successful too?

The hour continued, the mantelpiece kept spreading its warm lights and she kept talking to me in fragments and I kept listening and looking out the window. The sky was blue, my shell was black (thank God the colour mask still covered they grey spots, it was suppose to last five washes but after my falling adventure I wasn’t sure) and my eyes must have been read. Not in a creepy way. In the heart emoji way.

Then someone stood under me saying--

“I’m going out to by a newspaper.”


“Though it’s no good buying newspapers…. Nothing ever happens. Curse this war; God damn this war!.... All the same, I don’t see why we should have a snail on our wall.”

Ah, she finally understands now! Oh, she’s just going to… continue with her life now? Oh okay.