Friday Fictioneers: Shell Game

Madison Woods’ Friday Fictioneers asks us to write a 100-word story in response to a prompt. Here’s this week’s prompt, and my story:

Shell Game

It lies underwater like butterfly wings, pure and empty.

“Mom, a shell! Maybe there’s pearls.” Short fingers hold up a white pebble. “I got a pearl! Bet I can get more pearls than anybody.”

“No, I’m gonna get all the pearls!”

I sit on the faded towel staring at the waves. Wrong. Be responsible. Watch the kids. Somebody has to be responsible.

Jake flops next to me. With eight years’ wisdom, he announces, “They think those stones are pearls. And they aren’t. And they want to take all the stones home with us.”

“I know. It’s all right.” I close my eyes; my heart floats empty as the shell.


23 responses to “Friday Fictioneers: Shell Game

  1. Hi Sharon, I thought this was a very thoughtful story. It hinted at much more we could find out about the Mum – it sounds like her life is far from the rosy picture one might imagine from the beach scene. Mine is here

    • Thank you! Yes, I tried to throw in some hints of problems with the faded towel and her resentment that no one else has any responsibility (for the kids, at this moment – or for anything?). Yours is a nice quietly hopeful story 🙂

  2. Oh I love it. The eight year old wisdom. It’s great.

  3. Children are so open that they see immediately to the heart of things don’t they, observation seems to come so naturally to them and I wonder why we lose that gift in later life. For me, the role of the author is to re-capture it and re-learn it so thanks for reminding me in your lovely tale.

  4. I hope someone’s watching the kids. Poor mom with an empty heart. Been there, done that.

  5. How melancholy, Sharon. Do we all turn so cynical as that, at some point, I wonder?

    • In all honesty, this is beyond my own experience (and I’m glad), but it’s based on what I’ve heard from divorced friends of life early in the breakup. Yes, it is melancholy.

  6. Made me wonder what has happened and will happen next. Good work! Mine is here:

    • Oh, good – I’m glad I caught your interest enough to make you wonder! (Could go various directions, depending on what kind of trouble the kids get themselves into…if any.) I love your story – it really brings back the feel of childhood.

  7. There is a scary moment in the middle when she looks out at the waves. I thought it one of the most despair filled sentences I’ve read in a while. The empty shell of a life, the loss of love, the wisdom of an eight year old. i really enjoyed this story.



    • Actually, I think the moment when she closes her eyes – after thinking about responsibility only a short time earlier – is even scarier. She’s losing her grip, or letting go of it. But you’re right, this is a story of despair against the backdrop of children determinedly going on with their own lives.

      I really like yours – good sketch of adolescence!

  8. Oh, another empty heart – so sad! Can I give her a hug? Or perhaps an offer to babysit would do her more good. 😉

    We’re here:

  9. Without knowing the backdrop, it was still a very moving piece. Well done.

    • Thank you! I didn’t really fill in the details of the background…she’s raising the three children alone, but is that because her husband is away for a prolonged time, or because he’s dead, or because they’re getting a divorce, or because each child has a different father and she never had a long-term relationship with any of the men? (If I have to be specific, I’d say she’s early in the process of getting divorced. But any of the other options could work too.) What matters for this story / this moment is that she’s at the end of her endurance, and the children still need attention.

  10. Poor girl could use a break I think, nicely done on the imagery.

  11. Funny how as a mom you can have heartbreak or troubles and yet conduct conversation with your children (or someone else) at a completely different level. I felt sad for her, yet knew where she was coming from.

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