All there remained, after all the different geographies and house moves, was a singular shell. Not some tourist perfectly formed trinket from a Caribean island that a lithe young boy dived for to find a living. But a relic, the inhabitant had long since vacated its hard hat coat, which was rolled and battered by moon influenced tides, sea smoothed, and only the rounded opening hole of a Common Welk remained.
All those beginning conversations, those thousands of emails that finally ended it, after 30 years. Only a shell, divorced from its origin, found in the back of her bureau draw.
Odd really that it lasted so long, being so small and sentimental. It must have slipped though the parsing sieve of castings out that she exercised rigerously in her recent past. Her prevailing need to de clutter. There was no one else now. She’d gone though enough of friends remaining stuff to know the need to clear the bookshelves, the cupboards and attics of the unneeded. The last jacket had no pockets.
He’d picked it up from a carpet of shells on a Norfolk beach, and slid it on his little finger.
She’d thought it an odd choice when there were so many fully formed shells, razors, welks oysters, of vibrant pastel sea hues all around.
“It’s broken”, she’d said.
“It’s just how it is meant to be, right now”, he said and laughed with such tickling joy it was contagious, except if you had the habit of correcting or amending.
She slid the shell opening through her little finger, shaking now. It fitted easily, and she laughed in reply 30 years later.