‘Tallulah Flooff and Sushi Snails’ by Isabel Rock

— Reneé Bibby

About three weeks ago, my cat Otter went missing. I’ve been low-key disconsolate since then, thinking of him specifically but also our strange relationship to these little wild creatures we invite into our houses. These creatures have their own personalities, their own whims, and cycles of biology that sometimes aligns with us, but other times run counter to our own. What’s amazing about Isabel Rock’s short story, ‘Tallulah Flooff and Sushi Snails’ is that even in a world where a pet can be built out of a branch of broccoli, that essence of “pet-ness” remains: the need to be served, the asserting of preferences, the demands for attention.

Yet, even in the face of all the work it takes to have a pet, the appeal remains. Again and again, the narrator builds a new creature from her food. When a real pet snail comes onto the scene, she works to give him the best life even as the snail’s demands spiral out of control. It doesn’t necessarily end well for the snail, but it doesn’t end on a definitive note about what it means to be a human with a pet. We get the distinct sense that the narrator won’t be done, any more than me, with the pets in life. How much it can mean to have a creature that requires so much and still be so loved.

Leopardskin & Limes