The seashell spoke to me. Nice things. Nothing harsh, or anything to be alarmed about, don’t alert the guards or anything. The seashell was encouraging.
It was usually before dawn, before work, while I sat at the kitchen table. It’d say things like, “Big day today, bet you do good.”
“Big day? I work as a janitor.”
“Oh, god, quit that job.”
After work, if I came home and needed someone to talk to, I knew I could always count on the seashell. As a joke, it would even mimic the sea, the waves, seagulls, but it would sound like if me or you just did it as a gag.
“What’s your name?”
“You don’t wanna know,” it said.
We left it at that.
On Tuesdays, we had Quiz Night.
I enjoyed it greatly, partly because I always won.
The seashell would ask me question after question, and I always knew the answer.
“Who invaded Spain in 1814?”
“What is the strongest muscle in the human body?”
“Why is the sky blue?”
“It’s a reflection of the sea.”
I don’t know exactly when I started to carry the seashell, but I did. It acted as a guide while I drove, “Turn left here, turn left here, okay, go about a quarter mile and then veer right on Ithmus Place.”
But it didn’t like to go into my pocket, it’d stab me severely, and I can’t blame it, so I began to wear the seashell around my neck. It looked like an oversized iridescent amulet.
People thought I was a mystic. That was weird.
As I pushed the cart around the grocery store it’d suggest things that I’d never thought to try; fresh tarragon, beets, natural pink sea salt from the Himalayas.
On Tuesday I was hit by a car, crossing the street, arguing with the seashell. Both my legs were shattered. My arm was broken in six spots. My skull was half flattened. The seashell had been reduced to dust.
Yet that night, while the ward was quiet, and the drugs hummed in me, I heard a voice say, “What’s the capital of Venezuela?”
“Caracas,” I said.
The night nurse looked in, I said, “I’m fine.”