You throw it back; toss an unblemished queen into the water. The sea swallows the empty shell; its rosy-mouthed pinkness spirals beneath a greenish-grey wave until lost to view. Most would covet the Phyllonotus erythrostomus and place the snail upon a shelf. From afar, they would admire the murex’s delicate spines, pouting lip, alabaster white shoulder, delicate whorl, and slender siphoonal canal, perhaps placing the palm-sized specimen in a Lucite box to guard against breaking. You though, continue your walk toward the point, where the estuary meets the sea, your eyes on the sand. Alone, you are more than halfway to journey’s end. You weave your way through last night’s flotsam, like a finger tracing a life-line across a palm, bare feet meandering through seaweed, shells, an occasional dead fish, plastic bottles—time’s detritus. You stop. A treasure, perhaps? As you stoop, the wind whips gray-streaked auburn hair across your face. An afternoon storm brews so you tighten your jacket. The rains no longer sound alarm, for they bring tomorrow’s bounty. Bending, you retrieve another murex beneath salted seaweed. This one’s shell is thin and its color faded, pale ochre replacing youthful peach. You hold the murex between thumb and forefinger. Life has altered its voluptuous curves as the seas tumbled it to and fro, brushed it against abrasive sand and coral. One side is missing, its inner spiral visible, smooth as polished marble, a soul revealed in the early morning light. You rub the queen between finger and palm, caressing the outwardness of something once desired but rarely attainable. You roll it back and forth as your feet roll across the dampened sand, as though you two gossip over coffee, sharing adventures. You put the murex to your ear as you ramble. The traveled queen’s stories unfurl: pinprick hole of a predator, worn-down ridged opening, chipped point, missing side. Tales far richer than those of the perfect specimen, now buried beneath the sea, whose only words are the echo of the waves.
Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram
Lisa K. Harris is a Pushcart Prize nominated author who writes about growing-up, outdoor adventure, and coping with speed bumps. Her essays have appeared in Roanoke Review, Passages North, Whitefish Review, Orcas, among others. She co-authored Cumulative Effects (2011), a book on environmental policy. Lisa splits her time between Tucson, Arizona and Whidbey Island, Washington. She works as an environmental consultant and is in search of an agent for her latest novel.