I can still feel their grooves between my fingers. My stubby fingernails rubbing back and forth, back and forth, like a metronome over their teeth. They traveled in my pocket, any pocket--with me the whole day and no one to know.
In the evening, when I was home and bathed, Mom would shout at me from the laundry room: "Did you have sea shells in your pocket again, my dear?" I would run to the dryer and press my ear against its hot metal side. My sea shells clinked around inside, up and down, up and down, singing to me of our day together. A day now that we could never have again.
I still feel the smooshy wet sand under my toes, squishing as I made friends with the shells. Purple with a chipped tooth. Shiny black with hidden eyes. This one has a pattern like the Eiffel Tower! And this one has one small hole. You and me shall never be parted by clothes dryers, I whisper to it. A sea shell tied around my neck, singing to me of our days together.
photo by my sister emily.