Where do seashells come from?
There exists an incredible sea monster along the ocean floor. A massive monster who many fear just for his size alone, rivaling the biggest whales and even the Kraken itself. This monster, however, is gentle and kind; humble in his trade, and sole purpose dedicated to the creation of small and delicate shells. Crafted from the stones he finds within the ocean’s mud floor, digging and sifting until he finds that perfect stone in which to create his next shell. Using his different tentacles and tools to chip away and shape, and sediment from the ocean floor for its beautiful coloring. From clams to mollusks, barnacles, oysters, scallops, sea snails, and all of the sea urchins, and hermit crabs in between. This monster sees all crustaceans alike to fit and tailor their shells, these smaller creatures even giving the monster a name befitting for their shell maker - Ostrac.
Ostrac has lived for many centuries, too many to count even on his tentacles, the few dozen he has. And as many other creatures scoff at him, whispering behind his back about his undesirable looks, he’s found a constant solace in his shells. And while there are the smaller creatures that come to visit him for their fittings, even they can be rude and demanding. Many small creatures come with the expectation to find the most beautiful shell, the most ornate shell abound with bright colors and unique textures. No matter what these creatures ask for, Ostrac takes no time in crafting the most flawless shell.
But, sometimes the shells are too small, too plain, too smooth, or too rough. Most of these small creatures growing picky over the centuries as protection is replaced with vanity. Although, some creatures prefer the protection, wanting textures that dispel potential threats. Such requests cause Ostrac to become too focused on the details, and his tools can crack these delicate shells if he’s not too careful and mindful of his own size and strength.
“Are you sure this is what you should be doing? At your immense size?”
Many creatures would say this and it would only sadden him. Of course, he’s made many beautiful shells before for many sea creatures. All of them were pleased with his work and even returned to be fitted for larger shells as they outgrow their smaller ones. But, as of recently, they’ve only become demanding, looking for very particular colors, and detailed textures. And many of the shells he’s made have, unfortunately, been discarded to the unknown surface world above the waters.
Ostrac has never seen the surface world, and never knows exactly where his broken and defective shells go once he sends them up to the waves. The monster lives far too deep in the darkness of the ocean to even begin to imagine what such a world above would even look like.
He only goes by the stories some of the smaller sea creatures tell him, chipping away at his rocks as some small snails sit on one of his tentacles as they weave these glorious tails. A land where the ocean meets an infinite crossing of sand. Where the waves break and seafoam bubbles, kissing the sand’s edges. There are other creatures up there, some that eat the smaller ones, picking at their shells for food. Ostrac always puffs himself a little, knowing that his shells protect these smaller creatures while up on the surface.
However, one day, as another sea snail sits on a tentacle spinning a tail of her previous venture - she mentions more creatures that halt Ostrac and his tools.
“Land creatures.” Bubbles float up to him from where she’s talking, “Land creatures that walk on two legs. Ostrac, they always pick up your shells, they must like them.”
Land creatures that like his shells?
Ostrac feels a warmth in his cold-blooded body that spreads to each tentacle as he finishes with her shell. A striking whirl pattern spirling from the center with a marbled mix of mud browns and pearl whites. And as he fits her shell, an excited sputter of bubbles as she moves in circles to marvel at his work, he asks her, “Please, return with more stories of these land creatures.”
And she does, along with others as they talk about these two-legged land-dwellers that walk the sand crossings looking for his shells. Each story only brings fascination and more happiness. The sea snail even returns with her own stories of these land-dwellers picking up his broken shells, his plain shells, shells that were either too smooth or too rough. “And they keep them.” She explains. “They carry your shells with them back to their own homes.”
Ostrac, the sea monster, the shell maker, the outcast, has never felt happier.
So, as the centuries go on and on, too many to continue to count on his tentacles; he continues his creation of shells for all smaller sea creatures. However, as he slips up, as he uses a tool too hard and chips a shell; he sends it to the surface knowing a land-dweller will find it and love it all the same. Occasionally, he’ll send these dwellers gifts, a tentacle lifting a full conch shell or whorled shell with no cracks or imperfections. Some that are the purest pearl white, or have the prettiest speckle of color. Some that are very large, even too large for a small creature, and some that are tiny and delicate but intricately detailed. Something special for a land-dweller to find, marvel at, and keep.
Because he knows, no matter what, that his shells are loved and coveted - even if they’re not perfect.
About the Creator
Young, living - thriving? Writing every emotion, idea, or dream that intrigues me enough to put into a long string of words for others to absorb - in the hopes that someone relates, understands, and appreciates.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!