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I get up from the couch, cozy on a rainy day, the kids playing with their Pokemon cards on the living room carpet. I ruffle around. Notebook. Writers’ Digest mag… “Where’s my pen?”

The littlest giggles. The rat. I wonder when he managed to snitch it. Probably when he was showing me his tin full of Pokemon cards. Later, the eldest reclaims it for me (he’d hidden it behind the fish tank).

I return from getting the bag of seashells out of my car. I’d been adding to the bag the last week or so. Purple oysters, bleached cockles, blue mussels, clusters of empty barnacles, clam shells with sunsets trapped inside. They ooh and ahh over them as we spread them out on the floor, taking turns choosing their favorites to keep.

Later, the eldest inscribes one of her shells with my name in blue marker. Her gift to me.

I remember, years ago. Down by the shore, near Burfoot Park. My brother’s Eagle Scout project. I buddied up with the other scout sister, several years my junior, teaching her what I knew of the seashore while the brothers worked on their project.

Beneath rocks, tiny crabs scuttle away. See? Inside this barnacle? Those beaks mean there’s still a creature inside. See this hole in this clam shell? A moon snail drilled that. See these rocks? They are wannabe agates.

It was natural. I taught others what I loved. A few months later, the girl’s family started coming to our church with another scout family. Her mother had said to the other scout mother, I appreciated that Arielle hung out with my daughter.

Seashells and love. Seashells and love.

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