Seashells from the Seashore

Categories Flash Fiction Contest Winner

A simple game. A simple con.

It’s well-known, clichéd, and trapped in infamy.

It was my living. It became the reason for my dying.


It started two day’s or so journey from here, on the
coastal road. Having fled from one town and on to the next, in
search of new, fresh “flats”, I happened to notice the steep
cliffs beside me. Striding to the edge, I glanced below me at
the rocky beach underneath me. My attention wavered, and as my
thoughts and eyes began to turn elsewhere, three deep blue
pulsings caught my eye. Always captivated by the strange and the
enchanting, I felt a sharp tugging sensation fill my mind,
pulling me towards those three glows down there on the shore.

Abandoning the road, I made my unsteady descent. My bare
feet, calloused and well-practiced, found easy footholds, as I
clambered down. My skirts caught on the jagged cliff face,
tearing at the seams, ripped to shreds, but I cared not, for I
was filled with my goal. My desire, there, half-buried in the
sand, caressed by gentle white waves. My feet sunk deep into
those sands, surrounding my ankles, binding them to that beach.

Slowly, I made my way to the three deep blue glows, all in a
neat row, to my eyes, awaiting me.

On reaching them, I hungrily clawed at them, clasping them
tight. Each was the size of my fist, yet had little weight. As
my fingers traced their textures, the fissures, the countless
patterns writ, the glow dimmed. Not faded completely, only just
apparent, beneath normal perception. I raised one to the light,
peering close. The blue ‘orbs’, as such, were in fact shells,
the kind often found along the beach. Asides from the blue, the
glow, and the strange luring effect emanating from them, they
were as common as mud in those parts. These qualities made them
precious, rare, and profoundly strange; abstract yet

I took them with me, to use in my ‘game’. That may have
been a simple practical excuse, to allow the rational part of my
mind peace while the rest was still enamoured with the three
shells, wrapped up in the almost spell-like draw it had upon me.


That evening,I reached some nameless, dying town, clutching
those three shells, tightly wrapped in my shawl. With my
precious bundle, I made my way to the town square, ready to ply
my trade once more.


The game was simple enough. I placed the three shells in
front of me. In my hand I held a smooth pebble, the size of my
thumbnail. With a smile, I would show the empty shells to the
crowd, then place the pebble underneath one. While humming some
idle child’s song, the words long forgotten, the shells would go
round and round, until I’d had the crowd worked up to the right
fervour. Once more, I’d turn my sweet innocent smile upon the
crowd, typically seeking out those desperate men, that every
game attracts.

I’d offer them a bet, for whatever sum they so desired. If
they could guess which shell contained the pebble, they would
win all that I had gathered. The more players in the game, the
higher the prize, so it would take all the charm I could muster
to get a decent amount of gamblers, and a decent-sized profit
for myself. Most games, the gamblers would come away empty and
broke, as I’d palmed the pebble, sending it down my sleeve, away
from the shells. If the mood turned violent, I’d let a few win
here or there.

Most “sharps”, as we called ourselves, assumed that the
more cash you brought in, the better off you were. But I was
cunning, I was wise in the ways of the game, and knew the better
the illusion, the better the profits. Mine was not a typical
game. No, it was theatre. A smile, a trick or two, and my
crucial props, the centerpieces, those three shells.


That first ‘performance’ with the new stars, the three deep
blue shells, went well, albeit in unexpected directions. I
surveyed the crowd, I hustled up bets, I placed the pebble, and
round and round they go, those shells. My fingers flicked under

the first shell, seeking the pebble I had placed underneath it.
They brushed only air. In the brief seconds I had, my fingers
frantically crawled about, searching for the pebble. And so it
went with the second. And the third. Panicked on the inside, all
cool smiles on the outside.

The reveal came along. The crowd turned against me. They
flung each shell open, to find only more fuel for their anger.

They grabbed me, searched my sleeves, my skirts. For once, I was
innocent, no tricks, no shams. Not by my hand, at least.

In the ruckus, the shells overturned, kicked aside. There,
in the first shell, laying in the dirt, was the pebble. I
screamed, I pointed, and the crowd, that fickle beast, turned as
one, and saw there the pebble. The anger dissipated, turning to
slight suspicion and mld confusion. My customers quietly faded
away, as I counted my profits from that ‘game’.

Something caught my eye. My fingers, tinged with blue.
Perhaps the shells were dyed? I thought no more of it, then. I
simply rose, left, and prepared to play again.


Then is not now. Now, I lie beside the road, in the ditch,
too weak to move. The blue has taken my whole body, painting my
skin one single shade of deep, glowing blue. I still clutch the
shells, dull and empty of all magic. My pockets are stuffed with
useless funds, money I will never spend. For I can feel the end
coming, on rivers of rich blue, filling my veins, my lungs, my
mouth, my mind. No more shall I play the game. No more shall I
trust shells. No more shall I…

Eenty teenty
tirry mirry

Ram, tam, toosh

Crawl under the bed

And catch a wee fat moose.

Cut it in slices
Fry it in the pan,
Be sure and keep gravy
For the wee fat man