Slug paths weaved iridescent strands along the pavement. Headed in no particular direction, dozens of mother-of-pearly lines dashed east, north, south, west, refracting Peckham's rare sunlight like a slow cosmic prism. Those who made Lulworth Road part of their regular Saturday route into town, or to post a last-minute letter, or to the off-license to pay 1.50 for the suitcase-sized weekend Guardian that heaved with the promise of special issues and special editions and John Lewis vouchers, fell victim to the unexpected brightness of sky and ground. Helpless to 12-o-clock's haze of hangover and instant coffee, they squinted hard in failed attempts to squeeze away last night's last sips of gin, to mentally remain under the duvet for just five more minutes.
Most of the sparkling threads oozed to everywhere and nowhere, their ends disappearing into thimble-sized front gardens that sprouted from concrete cracks before showing up again, perhaps having turned a corner toward Wherever's next wet, soily patch.
There was one, though. One that fell prey to its own victims that shuffled with their eyes closed, that slowly inched towards a Saturday's equivalent of everywhere and nowhere until: Crack! The lone snail shell shattered under a careless foot. It seemed strange that a clumsy step could crush with such militaristic force. The Stomp! — followed by serial crunches and the inevitable smoosh of shoe sole and ooze and pavement — surprised the empty street's invisible occupants with its unintentionally brutish misstep.
A later walk down Lulworth revealed the afternoon's drizzle had washed away all sluggish traces. But the shell and its sad remnants remained, clearly visible in the light of unsleep, glued to mismatched concrete like a fading jewel.