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A Short Story by a lovely friend of mine...



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Shell Out of Water

A short story by: Rhiannon Ardel Pierson!


April 4, 2013

I was laying in the sand when she found me. I had assumed she was just going to kick sand over me, like most of the others before her. Or, at best, perhaps she would pick me up, admire my colors, then throw me in a direction as far from her as she could. As if to say, "Be someone else's trouble - not mine!" That's what all of the ones before her did. So, why would I expect any different from her?

The two-legged have a tendency to be unaware of the inconveniences their actions can, and often do, cause others that are not of their kind. All of us are aware of this fact. It's just expected. The scaly breeds know of this too. Even the slimy weeds we often reside in have this expectation (and they're not too bright). So, if we all know it, why don't the two-legged? One of the largest inconveniences the two-legged often cause is relocation. For creatures with legs, or an ability to swim, this is no issue. For us, however, it is. A tremendous issue, if I do say so myself.

Anyways, I was thinking about these facts of life - and whether or not the spot I assumed she was bound to throw me to would be a practical one or not - when she picked me up. Her face lit up with excitement as she commented on my colors (purple and blue), my shape (typical fan), and my size (relatively large compared to my neighbors). As she held me to the sun, she studied my small hole. Damn erosion. Even the best of us can't seem to avoid it. "This will be perfect for my necklace!" she murmured. At that time I had no knowledge of what a necklace was, and found myself uneasy at the idea of being perfect for one. Before I knew it, she had placed me inside this giant pink light (I believe they're called purses?) where I was terrified I would snap in half.

After some time, the same girl removed me from the pink terror, and with a smile held me to her ear. I screamed, "Where are you taking me?"

She smiled even bigger and replied, "You really can hear the ocean!"

That wasn't the response I was hoping for, but what can I say? It's a rather common one after all.

In this place - with more items unknown to me than I can even begin to describe - she pulled out this so called 'necklace' (a shiny, thin device which fit comfortably through my hole) and then placed me around her neck. She then looked in still water (I believe these devices are referred to as 'mirrors'?) and exclaimed, "Perfect!"

Every night, this girl (I soon learned she is what the others call a 'Samantha') would gently remove me from around her neck, and then place me on a giant sturdy stick. Then, each morning, with an equal amount of care she would place me around her neck again. This was not the life I had intended to live, but it is a far better one. No more sand erosion, no more cracks, and no more two-legs throwing me - just imagine! I do not know for sure, but from the way this Samantha has grown and shaped (I don't know what they call her shape, she's certainly not a conch, nor a fan, but her kind seem to admire her odd shape regardless) I think I may have even outlived most of my type. It's hard to say, we measure time by the ocean's movements, but since I'm not near the ocean often enough I truly do not know.

Samantha has strange ways about her. For starters, she smears what appears to be a mixture of the slimy weeds and fish eggs across her eye, lips, and nails each day. She also dangles various things from the sides of her head. I think that perhaps her kind is like the angler scaly? Perhaps all of these bright, dangly things are meant to attract the opposite sex? Or dinner? It's difficult to tell. She is not alone in these strange ways, though. Honestly, these ways seem rather normal for her species. Over time, I have learned many things about them, although there are still things that confuse me.

I think the biggest thing I don't understand is why it is they never seem to walk. They have the power to choose where they go, and yet so often they sit. Or allow large metal beasts to move them around. She does not seem to walk nearly as much as she did in her early days. My type is always relying on destiny to move us from place to place, and so it seems as though it would be so nice to be able to say, "Hey, the sand's dry over here. Why don't we walk to that nice moist part?" But no. She sits.

The other thing I don't understand is why they never watch, especially considering how often they sit. My neighbors and I used to love to watch the scaly breeds. We would also watch the two-legged, those who fly, and of course, the ocean. You can find out so much from simply watching, but these two-legged, they never do that. They communicate at each other, but then don't understand. And so I shout, "Why don't you just watch him?" but she never seems to hear me.

Overall though, it's been a good life. I've been around her neck for a long time now, and so I've seen a good deal: I was there when she looked more like a stick than a two-legged. That was the same time she dressed the way two legs do when they go to the ocean - except now it was all the time. And her creators (here they're called 'parents') were often unhappy with her because of it. Then there was the time she relocated, and lived with other girls. They were in 'school'. I think it was teaching them to mate, or at least that's what they did more than anything. There was one boy of whom she was quite fond. One day, she forgot me in his home, where I witnessed him attracting another girl, which their species is not known to do. I tried to tell her, but as per usual, she did not hear me. Not too long after that, we walked into his home where Samantha found one of those dangly things. Except, it was not hers.

After that, she held me to her ear a lot. Actually, any time something bad happened she would hold me to her ear. I would often say things like, "It's okay, he was chipped anyways", or "It's okay, at least you can relocate yourself," or even things like, "It's okay - you're not even eroding!" Most of the time she wouldn't respond, but she would calm down. Occasionally, she would say that damn saying about hearing the ocean again. What can I say? She is after all, a two-legged.

Many times two-legs would comment on me: How pretty I was, how nice my colors were, whether or not I was fake. That sort of stuff. She always answered with a smile, and often touched me while she did. She would even tell them I was her favorite. Why? "...I found it during the best summer I ever had as a child." Oddly, I never minded her holding me, or talking about me. It was even nice sometimes. My type often lives best in the shadows of others, but sometimes it's nice to be in the limelight.

In the ocean, every day is just another day. That may sound foolish, but it's the truth. There are no, what the two-legged call, 'special occasions'. In the ocean, when it's time to mate the scaly breed mate. When their eggs hatch, they rise out of the coverings and begin to swim. When one dies their body becomes nourishment to another. That's not to say no one feels sad, but simply that we continue to live as we did before. It's just expected that creatures will mate, will be born, will die. The two-legged though, break all of their routines for these occurrences. They have "gatherings" or "celebrations." I was there for all of Samantha's so-called "celebrations", wrapped nicely around her neck in fact.

Although it was long ago, I remember the special occasion (also called a "wedding") of her final mate choice. She had many of my kind on the tables as decorations, and even wore pearls (apparently the two-legged also admire the clamped ones offspring as well) on the sides of her head. She covered herself in solid white sand, and through a bunch of dry seaweed in to the air (which all the other two-legged tried to catch, why I do not know). Many two-legged came, loud music was played, and the event lasted a full day. Personally, the part I enjoyed most was when they visited the ocean known as California, after the celebration had ended. I had known quite a few scalies from there, and even a few of my own kind! The reunion was quite nice.

Another event the two-legged celebrate differently is hatching. For starters, the two-legged mate the way the long, large scaly breeds do. There are no egg sacks, instead Samantha carried the offspring inside. I could not see (since I was on her neck at the time) but I can only imagine the offspring exits the same way. Regardless, many two-legged gather around as the fry breaks free. They all say happy exclamations upon finding out the sex of the baby. Then they take turns holding it, kissing it. In the ocean, no one notices except maybe the mother, but they also make themselves useful fast. It takes very little time for them to learn to swim, feed, and so on. Here, on the other hand they do not immediately swim, or rather, walk. In fact, they do nothing to fend for themselves. They also give them a new word for which their called. Samantha referred to hers as 'Tory.'

Sadly though, there's one thing about the two-legged that is very similar to my kind. They erode. It's not a pretty process for them either, although, I don't know what causes it. They don't get holes in them like we do. However, their outer layer starts to wrinkle, and loosens far too much. This happens gradually, as it does with us. The long stuff on their head ('hair'?) gets thin the way we do, and their color also begins to fade. It's sad, really. Then one day...

Crack.

Without a sound, they're simply broken! It's like the scaly breed, one moment they're just fine, the next motionless. First this happen to Samantha's life mate. That made her very sad. She held me to her ear a lot for a while after that. She also visited the ocean more then. None of those times saddened me the way it did when she finally broke though. The two-legged make a big deal of breaking too. Except, instead of putting white sand on themselves, they all take cover in black.

I was surprised by how sad it made me. My type just expects this sort of thing, so it shouldn't bother me, but...

She was special.

The day she broke, I was around her neck. It was a normal day, just like in the ocean. She had laid down to take a nap. I watched as the brighter moon went home, and as the moon rose. Once the brighter moon was back, Tory found us.

They decided not to remove me, even when they left her body for nourishment. Their reason?

"A special shell, for a special lady."

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