When the ocean grows weary of the skeletons bounding across her floor, of the bones borne inside the rocks, wrapped within the ribbons of kelp growing stories high, hidden in coral grottos the color of hand-tinted silk, she lets them go.
She pushes them away from her. She is an impatient mother. Muscular waves scoop them up in their rippling embrace and guide them towards a granular shore. Helpless under the sun, their colors pale and choke, their patterns waver. Some, like their brethren hidden in the mountains' titanic strata are destined for burial, waiting for the curiosity of science to exhume them.
Others will wait for people like me.
I collect seashells. They are sculptures that fit in my hand, staircases that wind down to my fingertips, fans that raise the tiniest of maritime breezes. When I see those deserted homes scattered across the salty landscape, I bear down upon that ghostly community with all haste. I take home whatever catches my eye: orange scallops that can fit inside a fingernail; cones and turbans lined with iridescent pearl; clams with pink sunbursts…each day there is a new orphan. I steal away with the elegant remains.
And once home, I will arrange them in crystal bowls, where their shapes and bleached textures soothe my eyes. But when I hold them to my ear and listen, I can still hear the sigh of a remorseful parent.