I recently went to Tybee Island, Georgia (USA) for a writing retreat. There, I collected sea shells, which I brought home. The following sadness ensued.
THE SADNESS OF THE SHELLS
by Marian Allen
I walked on the beach in December
And picked up some shells from the beach.
I made it a point to remember
What posters endeavor to teach:
Do not collect living crustaceans
But only the ones that are dead.
Inspect each with infinite patience.
Yes, that’s what the posters had said.
I thought I had followed the order
In gathering gifts from the foam
And socked away shells like a hoarder
And packed them and carried them home.
I showed them to this one and that one
Who “ooh”ed o’er each lovely shell
Including one wonderful flat one.
And then the shells started to smell.
I washed them in hot soapy water
And put them to drain on a rack.
“They stink the place up!” said my daughter,
So I packed them back in a sack.
I soaked them in bleach and the flat one
Came open. My sorrowing eyes
Beheld the sad truth, which was that one
Was not a legitimate prize.
It had, in fact, contained two living creatures
With gooshiness and stinkiness their features.
So I’m repaid for taking what was living.
The smell is everlasting, unforgiving.
Oh, Mortal! take a lesson from this telling!
Be very, very careful in your shelling.
Okay, so I rinsed all the shells off, threw away the stinky one, washed the remaining ones in hot soapy water again … And they STILL smell. Is it residue from having been packed with Neptune’s Vengeance, or do I have another Hideous Surprise lurking? Time will tell. Time. Will. Tell.
WRITING PROMPT: An innocent mistake rebounds disastrously.