The little ones are quarreling over whose biscuit is bigger -
Craig is weeping as his has broken in two -
'there there,' I mutter, 'the others only have one each.'
His 3 year old eyes narrow, calculating......
I manage to sweep the swarm of them into the garden to 'play'!
The shell arrived in a box in the post.
I take it out of its tissue imagining the hands who wrapped it so carefully.
I caress the rough exterior, feel the weathered points, smooth the silky inner surface with my finger.
I put it to my ear as I did then
and the familiar quiet roar of the imagined ocean works its magic.
My senses are glutted.
The halo of the sinking sun gilds the sea with a molten, golden sheen.
My nostrils fill with the scent of salty bodies straight from the waves.
The taste of the shared melting ice cream is fresh on my tongue,
I hold the hand sized shell hard, to anchor me in these acute memories,
pressing the weathered points until my finger tips hurt, to ground me.
The ambient sounds of the sea roiling about in that enclosed hard shell are so real
that I hear the plaintive mewing of a gull.
My senses reel and I am drunk with memories.............. two stolen days that I have hoarded
like treasure to be savoured in small doses.
The children are giggling in the background...occupied for now.
I press the shell to my ear once more and allow tears of longing to dim my eyes.
I lose myself in the soft hiss of shallow waves that wet my feet and hide my toes.
Our hands meshed as we held this shell you found for me.
I couldn't take it.
I lose myself in the warmth of memories, the stain of that dying last day forever stamped there.
The shell in its tissue paper is a reminder of the choice I MUST make.
I am breathless and drowning in sights forbidden brought on by the evocative sounds this shell makes.
The reality of those out there, my home around me, work in the morning, weigh me heavy.
The pain is excruciating.
I can't bear it for another second
so I release the shell from my ear to break the spell.
The clatter of pots in the kitchen and the rapid chop of onions on a board with Brian's deep voice humming
brings me sharply back to what is familiar.
And the joy of what is real and what is now,
even with the heaviness of responsibility
makes me put that shell in the box, shoving in the pale pink tissue, specially chosen, on top - FAST.
I put it in the yard, by the dust bin to go out tomorrow when the truck comes to collect the detritus of my household.
'Coming Sal,' I call and slam the door.