She Sells Seashells


“She sells seashells by the….”

The next word was hiding, distant as if on the other side of a wall, invisible and blocked where thought or reason was inaccessible.

“She sells seashells by the….”

The tongue twister gnawed around in her mind as Lois shuffled the floor in the common room of the Homewood Institute.

“She sells seashells by the ….”

Her distress grew proportionately as the word eluded her in spite of frantically searching her memory. It carried a key to something important. Yes, she was absolutely sure that the last word was vital to her –no – not her – someone’s survival. She paced faster, back and forth, obsessing over the buried word, head lowered, looking out of the corner of her eye for the nurse who supervised the secure cell.

“She sells seashells by the ….”

A gentle hiss of a whisper escaped past her lips. She wondered if they heard.

Lois ruminated; the words torturing her as they rose in crescendo tearing at her brain and stabbing at her heart until it felt like her chest and head would explode. Her agitation had not gone unnoticed. Nurse Huxley stood from behind her desk and nodded to another nurse who left quickly in the direction of the room where they kept the drugs. Lois knew what that meant. They would sedate her; perhaps restrain her with a straight jacket and then she would never find the word that would release her from a dark and terrible truth. Panicked she jumped on top of the wide wooden table in front of the barred window of the third floor room, clawing desperately at the glass to get out. She needed air. She was suffocating.

“She sells seashells by the …”

This time Lois shouted out the truncated rhyme, tears streaming down her cheeks wetting the loose strands of her blond unkempt hair that hung in snaking tendrils over her face but she was still unable to find the last word to complete the phrase. She shouted again and again, pounding her fist on the glass to break through to freedom, to where fresh air would allow her to breathe again, to find the word that she knew was locked just beyond her minds reach somewhere in the nothingness of space on the other side.

They were coming for her but the window held tight denying her escape. She struggled with all her might as two strong orderlies grabbed her roughly into their tight grip, and as Nurse Huxley pulled up the sleeve of her hospital gown that draped loosely over her writhing body, the sharp syringe stinging her arm as they held her down.

“No. No. No. “Lois pleaded. But, it was too late. All her effort was lost. Then finally, just before she slumped into limp collapse it came to her.

“Seashore,” she sobbed as the hospital staff melted away before her eyes and the drug pulled her into the horrifying, repetitive, and dreadful dream where she watched her little daughter playing at water’s edge, wading into the sea, reaching deeper and deeper to retrieve her beloved teddy that the wave had snatched from her side until she disappeared under the water leaving Lois’s mind abandoned and imprisoned forever in guilt.


By Marianne Scott

October 14 2015



4 thoughts on “She Sells Seashells

  1. OMG I have goose bumps Marianne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Debbie. It’s funny how a story can evolve from almost any prompt line. “She sells seashells by the…” Appreciate your visit. Please come again. My next prompt is “Blank, blank, and blank (all names) walk into a bar”. I already have an idea on where to take this. Are you game too? We could share.


  2. Wow. Well flippin’ done, girl! Well flippin’ done!

    Liked by 1 person

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