Conch shell

I went back to my parents’ house this weekend for dinner. As I idly stood in the family room, I looked out the back door and saw a bleached white conch shell laying unceremoniously on some mulch surrounding the base of a tree. Boy, did it bring back memories.

I first saw that conch shell twelve years ago, on the day that we moved into that house. I was eight years old then, and my sister was six. We were running around in the backyard, exploring our new surroundings, and saw this random conch shell that was some sort of yard decoration. I don’t remember the particulars of it anymore, but I seem to recall that the previous owners brought it back from a vacation, or something, and then left it behind at the house when moving out. So my sister and I got our hands on it.

And naturally, we did what most kids do when they get their hands on something nice: we tried to destroy it. Now, later on in life, I cannot understand that base instinct, but that’s what we did. I remember throwing it against the ground, then against the concrete patio, then beating it with sticks, and finally, trying to bash it in with a rock. We did break off the outer lip of the shell, leaving a jadded edge. But we could do no more damage. That shell is hard, and large. It weighs several pounds. Unable to demolish it like I had originally aimed, I just kind of forgot about it.

We never really did anything special with it after that. It just got moved around repeatedly, used as a base in impromptu games of backyard baseball, buried under a layer of new mulch and then excavated, and more. It wasn’t tied down in any way, and we’d had a copious number of visitors to our backyard over the years, but the conch shell, as attractive as it may be, has always remained within the property lines, and it is there to this day. I suppose when my parents eventually sell the house it will remain, forever a guardian of that backyard.

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