[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first time I saw a seashell was in third grade. Someone in class brought it for show and tell.

The teacher passed it around the room. We all took turns holding it up to our Midwestern ears, listening to the Gulf of Mexico. And it worked. You could hear the whispering sound of waves. Then, everyone in class got a tiny seashell as a souvenir. But you couldn’t hear the Gulf in those little things.

God knows, I listened for it.

The Gulf of Mexico seemed like a planet of its own. My grandfather was the only person in my family who had even seen it, long ago. He told me it was magnificent.

And I took his word for it, since I only had my little seashell to go by.

Two summers after Daddy died, I finally saw the Gulf. Our cabin was right on the beach. Though I couldn’t tell you what the cabin’s inside looked like, I didn’t spend much time indoors. I was too busy staring at the green water, searching for more seashells.

Mostly, I didn’t leave my beach chair. All week. I sat right up near the water. It wasn’t that I was enjoying myself, I was more hypnotized than anything.

Three nights in a row, I fell asleep in my beach chair. Mother let me sleep out there until the wee hours of the morning. And she must’ve come out at some point to cover me up, because whenever I awoke there would be a strange blanket draped over me.

And a few new seashells down at my feet.

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