Collecting Himself

The shell collector looked around the room. It was an average hotel room: the same mass-produced artwork hanging on the same eggshell walls, the same too-soft pillows sheathed in the same white pillowcases. The same, the same, day in and day out. He had to check the notice on the back of the generic room’s door to remember what city he was in sometimes.

Memory is a fragile thing.

As are the shells he collects.

But their pearlescent beauty brought him comfort that no amount of restless nights in short-sheeted hotel beds ever did. The prides of his collection were the whole, unbroken shells, although the cracked bits and pieces he more often found held their own jagged allure.

He spent so many hours by himself, but the shells helped him feel the opposite of loneliness.


Inspiration from inspiration: today’s story inspired by Stephanie‘s search for three short story ideas.


Hotel Long

“I had the weirdest dream last night,” she announced to her roommate over their morning cups of coffee, one with sugar, one without.

“So tell me about it,” her roommate prompted.

“I’m warning you, super weird. Anyway, I was in this house, right, and it was like, just this straight shot through the house, but it was infinitely long. I mean, there wasn’t a regular hall or anything, you just had to keep going through one room after another to get to the end of the house. And every room was so different.But it was like a hotel, you know, every room was somebody’s. And I knew all their stories.

“The first room was pretty neat, actually. I knew it was a photographer’s room, dream knowledge, you know, but he wasn’t there. The walls were floor-to-ceiling puzzles of candy. There was a normal hotel bed in one corner, all made up and stuff, and it had one piece of that strawberry candy on each pillow.

“I opened the door, and I came into a room with those two little girls from The Shining. They were just standing there looking at me, and I think the wallpaper was the same as in that hotel from the movie, but I haven’t seen it in forever so I’m not really sure. The end table next to them had a cage with a monkey in it. I kept going.

“I came to a room that was an aquarium. Not full of aquariums, or fish in the walls or anything, but seriously, I was walking through a room full of water in like, this bubble that was just my size and shape. I liked that one. The sides looked like they went on for miles, so maybe I was in the ocean. I don’t know, it was a dream. But the fish acted like I wasn’t even there. Maybe I was in Aquaman’s room or something.

“Then a room with the nicest carpet ever. Like I seriously sank in the carpet up to my ankles. It was so soft, like a cat’s belly, but without the teeth. And without the shedding. There was an old woman in a rocking chair, just rocking and knitting and singing to herself. I didn’t recognize the song.jesus ganesh dog are co-pilots

“In the next room, this guy was just sitting on a chair. Not a recliner or anything, just like a kitchen chair. The only other thing in there was some art on the wall by the far door. He had a framed portrait of Jesus giving a thumbs up, a framed poster of Ganesh some girl gave him a few years ago, and a painting his mother had done of his dog, on which, for some f-in’ reason, she’d placed a crown of flowers.  Regardless, he liked to have all his bases covered. I got the weirdest vibe in there.

“Oh, and the frogs! There was a room full of frogs instead of carpet. I don’t even know what kind of floor was under the frogs. Super gross.

“There were just so many rooms. I don’t even remember all of them anymore. But it was like I was a ghost, because nobody noticed me or did or said anything to me. Weird, huh?” She looked expectantly at her roommate.

“Yeah. You wanna ditch work today and sit in those comfy chairs at the bookstore?” her roommate asked.

“Sure, whatever. It’s not like the office will burn down without me there for one day. And I haven’t skipped with you in forever. Let me get dressed, and we can go,” she agreed.

Wed Stories at TBP–and if you were paying attention to the comments a month ago, Tuesday!