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Life in a Seashell

Life in a seashell, a story inspired by a storm and a beach in Tálknafjörður in the Westfjords of Iceland.

Sofia was walking along the beach, the waves going over her feet. Up and down and up and down. She had been on the beach all afternoon, playing in the ocean with her little sister. These were her favourite kind of days. She was collecting some shells, for her collection. At home, her mother would help her to make little holes in them, so she could put them on long strings to hang in her room. Soon all of her walls would glitter with shells! As she walked next to the water, she could feel her mother’s eyes in her back. Making sure she wasn’t going too far off. Other kids her age would be annoyed by it, but Sofia felt only loved. Her eye fell on a large shell, lying a few meters off, she could swear it just appeared! She hurried to pick it up. It was big. Really big! Perfectly curved and twisted. Its aperture was big enough to swallow her ear completely. With her eyes closed, she listened to the waves rolling inside the shell. “I wonder which ocean I hear.” She asked. As soon as the thought formed in her head, an answer appeared in her mind. “Would you like to know?” Imagination asked.

And just like that, Sofia was falling. Gliding along the smooth curvature of the shell. Faster and faster she went, until there was no shell left to glide along. In the middle of nothingness, she fell into the ocean. She swam back out of the deep, to the surface were waves came crushing over her. She started to panic, as the waves pushed her under water again and again, stealing her breath. “What on earth are you doing?” Imagination asked. “Why are you drowning yourself? Sofia, take my hand!” Sofia listened and pulled herself out of the water. Now she was standing on a perfectly still, mirror like ocean. Then, on the horizon, a little something appeared. As it glided further, it appeared to be a ship. It had bright white sails and the whole ship glittered with crystal light reflections. The bow and hull were completely inlaid with shiny shells. As she gazed at all this beauty, the ship stopped gracefully in front of her. A robe ladder was thrown out. Sofia climbed the ladder to the deck.

“Welcome Sofia! We have been waiting for you!” The captain said. She was a very beautiful woman, with light blue eyes and long thick bright red hair, complete with a large hat and sturdy boots. “You have been waiting for me? Sofia asked. “But why?” The captain laughed understanding. “Oh, but you asked to come with us, don’t you remember?” “Where are we going then?” Sofia answered. “We’re going to catch a storm!” The woman smiled enthusiastically. And sure enough, a storm was rumbling at the far end of the horizon, growing stronger by the minute. “How do you catch a storm?” Sofia asked uncertainly. “Well, it’s very simple, really.” The captain said. “We go to the middle of the storm, rip the heart out and put it in jar!”

Without further ado, the sails were hoisted and the ship rushed over the waves towards the thundering winds. Imagination was getting enthusiastic, it had quite a thing for this kind of adventure! The sailors were getting more and more trouble to keep the ship on course. The storm would push them aside every time they tried to get closer. Sofia was an attentive spectator in all this commotion. She wondered what the heart of a storm may look like, as she had never seen one before. But then again, she had never actively looked for the absolute centre of a storm like this. “Does it even exist?” She asked herself as they circled closer and closer to the epicentre.

The ship was getting close enough now to catch a glimpse of the centre between wind and waves, each time before they were pushed aside by the storm. And sure enough, a few meters above the crushing waves, in the middle of winds that strong that they were reduced to nothing, the heart was beating. It was bright white and pulsing with dazzling energy. While Sofia was holding herself with all her might to the deck of the ship, the captain climbed on the bow. Flaming red hear waving in the wind, jar in her hand. She was really close now, and then, when the ship made its last turn to the centre, she shoved the jar over the heart. A moment later, the lit was on the jar and the storm was gone. The ocean was once again a mirror on which the endless glittering of the ship reflected.

That evening there was a party on board. Sofia danced with all the sailors around the glowing jar. “What would happen if you touched it?” Imagination asked. Overconfident from the happy atmosphere, Sofia walked towards the jar. Before the sailors realised something was wrong, she had opened the jar and stared in the pulsating heart of energy. “Sofia, put the lid back on.” The captain said. Suddenly the woman stood right in front of her, her light blue eyes piercing in Sofia’s mind. Unknowing what got over her, she put her finger in the jar and gently poked the heart. But the energy was so strong, imagination couldn’t handle it. Everything collapsed and she found herself back on the beach with the shell against her ear.

Sofia saw her mother beckoning her and ran off. Home.

The end.


While walking on the beach in Tálknafjörður in the Westfjords of Iceland, I found some unexpected large seashells. The night after, we had a storm coming over. The combination inspired me to write this tale.



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