An early version of The Snail & The Butterfly was a short story written by Dougie Coop called “Tomorrow” about an angel visiting a boy named Carter the night before he was born.
For Carter, tomorrow will not be an ordinary day. It will be the first of two tomorrows—the only two tomorrows ever truly realized—the day of one’s birth and the day of one’s death. The first, the beginning; the other, the ending. They are the front and back covers that hold the pages of one’s life—pages yet to be turned for Carter.
Tomorrow, Carter will awake from a long sleep, a slumber during which he knew no hunger, no pain, and no loneliness. To date, there has been no beginning to his day, nor has there been an ending. For Carter, it has been one continuous day. There was no darkness and no light. Carter just slept and slept.
Over the past few months, however, things have gradually been changing for Carter. His living space has become crowded and uncomfortable. He kicked his legs and stretched his arms to make more room, but it was no use. The walls just snapped back to their original size.
Carter had also begun to hear noises—muffled noises—like “Mahuh” and “Flehrun,” which made him curious. He wondered, “Where did they come from? What did they mean? Why were they the loudest when he stretched and kicked?”
Last evening, Carter heard a different noise and felt a warm touch on his forehead. “It’s time, Carter. It’s time.”
Carter said, “Who are you?”
“I’m an angel—your angel. It’s time to prepare for your life.”
“Well, where are we going?” Carter asked.
“We aren’t really going anywhere, but you will see where you will be going.”
“I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m happy here.”
“Carter, don’t worry. You don’t have to leave until tomorrow. Let me show you where you will be going.”
With these words, Carter relaxed. His body tingled as a force slowly pushed him upward. As he elevated, he looked down. For the first time, Carter could see where he had been for the past nine months. He could see his mother and father and understood the noises he had been hearing. The higher he rose, the more he could see. He could see his home, his neighborhood, his city.
“We’re going to a special place,” the angel said. “A place where you will see your birth, your death, and everything in between.”
Together, Carter and his angel soared high in the sky until they rested on the edge of a cloud.
“Carter, I know you have many questions, and I would like to answer them for you, but I can’t. All I can do is bring you here and show you. Take it all in because you will not remember any of this once you are born tomorrow.”
“What do you mean, I won’t remember anything? I could never forget this.”
“All you will know is that one day you are born and one day you will die. In between determines your life.”
“Will I see you again?”
“I will visit you again before the second tomorrow at the end of your life. As for now, don’t worry about tomorrow; let it take care of itself. Tomorrow will come, and as one thing ends, another will begin. Focus on the moment and live your life.”
Carter took a final look and then began to fall. As he descended, fear and uncertainty returned. One by one, the things he had seen for the first time only a short while ago became visible again. First his city, then his neighborhood, his house, his father, his mother all came into view until he was in the warmth and security of his living space again where he quickly went to sleep.
That night while Carter slept, he remembered his time on the cloud with the angel. He recalled all of the good that would occur in his life, and also the bad. He wondered if the good was worth feeling the pain and sorrow of the bad. He cried out for the angel to rescue you him from his doubt, to take him back to the comfort and security he had experienced on the edge of the cloud.
Although the angel didn’t return, Carter sensed the angel with him. “Oh angel, perched by my side, tell me please, how to fly. To soar above the earth below, full of pain and sorrow I’m sure to know.”
“Oh young man, I wish I knew, how to fly so you could too. My wings are weak; my spirit shaken. Yet, it’s all I have; all else was taken.”
“Oh angel perched by my side, tell me then why to fly. To leap into the clouds below, full of pain and sorrow I’m sure to know.”
“Oh young man, I wish I knew, how to fly or why I do. My will is weak; my faith is shaken. Yet, it’s all I have; all else was taken.”
“Oh angel perched by my side, tell me then can I fly? I’ll spread my wings and close my eyes and jump into the hazy skies.”
“Oh young man, this I know: you have wings, just let them grow. Spread them at your time of flight, for the rest is determined by your sight.”
As Carter listened to these last words, a cold lonely feeling replaced the warmth to which he was accustomed. With a scream, Carter awoke in a foreign place with a room full of strangers—except for two of the people. Oddly, they looked & sounded familiar. Carter’s first tomorrow had arrived.