The sea burbled in, and the child followed the shells strew on the sand like sparkling coins. Her head full of stories of wrecked pirate ships, she skipped after the seagull feather blown in the breeze and gathered shells willy-nilly, scooping and shaking and stacking in her palm, until she spied the white shells.
Soft white puffed shells, like the divinity candy her grandmother made. One after another. She threw away her finds, freeing her palm for the glistening white clouds on the beach wet with waves smooth to the touch, beautiful.
When they noticed her gone, all they could find was a trail of white shells leading to the sea. Believing her lost, they wept, never turning to the water to see where she rode the waves and, with each breath of the ocean, her laughter burbled white.
“You can’t find anything good on the beach these days. They’re out at five o’clock with flashlights, getting all the good shells.”
The Coastal Carolina Museum Shell Lady