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She Sells Sea Shells

sunset, swamp, black mingo swamp, black mingo creek, south carolina

Penelope’s last house was a haze of dust. It filmed the corners. Draped the tops of clothes. Seeped into cloth upholstery.

Dust thou art.

Penelope wasn’t dust. Not yet. She couldn’t see much. Heard nothing. She always said she wanted to die when her mind stopped. Sitting in front of the window in a bland nursing home and feeling the sun on her face wasn’t any kind of life. Especially since she couldn’t remember what was sun or warmth in the first place. She watched the blurry box, combed its edges for clues in a window lit like an oyster shell.

Who had she been when she found that shell? He gave it to her, didn’t he? It was too fine a thing to be dug out of the mud on the beach, though she could smell salt and sulfur when she thought about it. Maybe that was the smell of his cologne.

She was always confused. Suspended there. Waiting to die.

Blind eyes blinked behind orbs of glass. Snatches played in the light of a broken movie reel, her life in her mind’s eye.

Why did she hang on to moldy things? A shock of tulle. A glass box, engraved on top. A bleached oyster shell. Scraps that added up to a life lived. Living done.

To dust thou shalt return.

Not yet.

Penelope whispered it into the void.

Not yet.

To read more about Penelope, go here and work your way forward.

Have you ever found a memento and wondered about its story?

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Those casually discovered mementos can bring our minds surging back into the past, and if there is a smell attached, even more do. It is strange to find once invaluable trinkets squirreled away in boxes or drawers and feel the rush if misplaced emotions flood back.

    September 29, 2012
    • It is almost harder to find somebody else’s trinket. You know they saved it for a reason. It has significance. But, you don’t know why.

      September 29, 2012
  2. Lovely piece of writing. I clicked the link at the end of your post and found myself rereading the very first post of yours that I had read, a year ago it appears. The writing of today’s post is truly emotive. You’re definitely in the zone.

    September 29, 2012
  3. So Penelope is being put out to pasture…memories are tactile.

    September 29, 2012
  4. OH what a fascinating way to access her. Go to the end and study her life as an old woman.

    September 29, 2012
    • It’s always interesting – to me anyway – to look at people in old age and wonder who they were and what made them into who they are.

      September 29, 2012
  5. I love the sense here that she’s got one last thing left to do.

    September 29, 2012
  6. Hurrah, Penelope is back! And what a moment of truth we arrive at….I always wonder how I will feel when I get there. I hope I’m still writing.

    September 29, 2012
    • I hope you are, too. I hope I’m right there with you. :)

      September 29, 2012
  7. So, Penelope is back. I look forward to seeing what comes next.

    September 30, 2012
  8. I definitely remember the first post, Andra. And aren’t you clever to bring Penelope to us at this juncture in her life. I’m very curious as to the in-between!

    September 30, 2012
  9. Penelope…I’d like to sit beside her and hold her hand and listen to her life – guess I’m going to be able to do just that.

    October 1, 2012
    • She’ll likely be a novel someday. Everybody loves her and wants to know more about her.

      October 1, 2012
  10. Penelope!

    I knew I knew that name. This is gorgeous. such a far fall for her.

    October 2, 2012
    • It is sad. I always wondered how she ended up here. Another story. Novel-length, I am sure.

      October 2, 2012
  11. All the time.

    October 9, 2012

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