Seashells

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The best time to go for seashells is right after the tide has gone out. The waves have swept all sorts of new treasures onto the sand. I go out with my basket and gather them together, bit by bit. Sea-glass, broken shells, sometimes whole ones, little sea creatures. I always let those go. My brother likes to catch them and keep them in the tide pools beside our house, but I don’t dare. I sell my treasures to the witch that lives at the base of the cliffs a mile down the beach, and she doesn’t like it when I bring her anything living.

If it’s alive, it should stay where it is. That’s what she tells me, every time I bring her my basket. And I haven’t forgotten.

I always look for just the right shells for her. She likes the purple ones best, I think. And the green. She doesn’t mind at all if they’re chipped or broken, in fact, I think she likes those better. There’s magic in seashells, love, she always tells me. More magic than I can conjure up.

I always laugh when she says that. I know she doesn’t do real magic. She told me so herself. Just a few tricks to keep the men in the village away from her, so she can live in peace with her seashells. I think they are the only things she really loves. She hangs them all around her house, on long strings in front of her door, on short ones above her bed. They clutter the floor under her bed, the top of her dresser, her table. Even in her kitchen drawers. I’ve only sold her about half of them. The rest she found herself. She’s always out looking for new ones.

Just like I am.

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