Once, on a glorious, Saturday afternoon, where the sun was steaming and there was not a cloud in the sky, a boy named Malik was walking along the seaside, gathering shells. He was so excited. He had never been to the sea before.
Malik was so excited, in fact, that he walked far away from his mother, who he assumed was still just behind him. He didn’t notice when she was no longer there, and he hardly noticed that he had wandered far from most of the crowd. Malik’s whole world existed of these seashell treasures (they were more numerous further down the beach, he noted, which was probably why no one was walking here) and he had just happened upon a particularly large one. It was curved in on itself, huge, pink and white with pointed spindly bits on one end. He’d never seen anything so magnificent.
“Amazing. Do you know what you’ve found?”
Malik turned at the sound of not his mother’s voice, but a man’s. He was wearing a white t-shirt and shorts, his hair tousled in the seaside breeze. He smiled. He looked friendly.
“…A shell,” Malik answered shyly. “A big one.”
“Yes,” the man answered, leaning down on his knees so that he was eye-level with Malik, “but do you know what kind of shell? It’s called a conch. And they’re the best and rarest kind. They’re magical.”
Malik’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“Really. Put it up to your ear. You’ll hear something beautiful.”
Malik did. He held his breath, listening hard. “I don’t hear anything,” he said after a moment.
“Keep listening. Close your eyes, that may help.”
The man suddenly looked very serious, so Malik decided that he too should take this seriously. Grown-ups knew what they were talking about. He closed his eyes and held his breath. The sun beat against his eyelids, making the world a blur of red and orange. The breeze was loud in his other ear so he covered it, giving the magical conch all of his attention.
He thought he heard something.
“Keep listening,” the man said when Malik threatened to peek. “Keep your eyes closed.“
He thought he heard… something…
(a sort of snippet from ‘Pthalo’, the story I am working on this month for NaNoWriMo)