by Randy Kosloski
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There will be a little piece of heaven that will be just like this, sand molding around my feet, ocean water rolling over my toes, and a warm dreamy sun rising above a molten horizon. I love the beach. Every morning I stop at the beach on my way to school just to catch a glimpse of peace before school. It keeps me sane. The beauties of these morning moments help me through the grinding hell of my day.
I hate high school. I hate everything about it. I hate my classes, I hate my teachers, and I hate walking the halls everyday with a painted placid look on my face, while people who would step on your face to reach the next level of popularity, pass by with as little contact as possible. It reminds me of the stories you hear about hazing. People smiling as if they enjoy the torture they are receiving all because they want to be accepted by the torturers. High school is torture and we the students are the torturers of each other. And only to further my torture today I was headed for a History test that I had not studied for.
See yesterday I loaned my History text to my best friend during class. Believe it or not she had her own History textbook with her but it seems that she managed to glue every page together in some elaborate hair waxing experiment that went wrong. I have to admit that I was curious to hear the story but I decided I did not have time to unravel the lunacy so I gave her textbook and shared with the person next to me. She said she would drop it in my locker after school since she had my locker combo, though I have no idea how she got it. But in my usual way I left school after my last class without stopping at my locker or anywhere. So I left my text at school. By the time I realized the issue it was late, I decided I could not care less and I consequently I never studied.
As I turned to leave my pocket of paradise and face my Thursday of hates, I felt something odd beneath my toe, almost as if someone very small was poking me in shoulder to gain my attention only this poke came from beneath my foot. I raised my foot, peered below, and noticed hiding under a corner of my sand footprint was a delicate and lovely little shell. I bent over and pulled the little treasure out from the sand and mud. Though it was soiled by the elements from whence it came, its beauty was undeniable and I decided that it would be my little treasure. I placed it in my pocket and walked the lonely dark path to the dreary educational institution known as high school.
It seemed to help me to have that little treasure in my pocket. My dark and lonely walk did not seem so dark and lonely that day, and high school itself seemed more bearable. My placid painted on face seemed to be a more genuine one. And all the time my mind was focused on the treasure that I had uncovered in my little piece of heaven this morning.
Then things got even better when an announcement came over the PA just before lunch that the History teacher was unexpectedly absent and our test was postponed. Hooray!
My excitement was growing by the second and in order to keep things rolling I decided that I couldn’t hide that shell anymore; I had to let it shine. I spent my lunch cleaning and polishing my new found treasure until it glittered like gold. I thought that putting it around my neck would be about the most appropriate stage for so lovely a trinket. Though I was able to have the shop teacher drill a hole through it, I could not find a string to tie it around my neck. I looked everywhere and asked everyone but I came up short. Finally I managed to come up with an acceptable short term solution, I pulled my shoe lace out of my right shoe laced through the shop teacher newly crafted hole in my shell and tied it around my neck. Good to go.
With that glimmering jewel around my neck I felt like I was glimmering myself. My placid face and bleak demeanour were replaced by a subtle sense of hope and sincere smile. I felt like I was shining right along with my shell, and oddly enough bright faces and smiles were reciprocated by nearly everyone I passed by. My shining shell seemed to be affecting everyone who came near it as if it emitted some force field of happiness. All through the rest of my lunch, people seemed to be smiling and pleasant.
After my lunch period I went to my locker and picked up my books for the afternoon I left my history book behind so I was little lighter than originally expected and I promised myself to stop at my locker after school. As I arose from picking the books off the floor bottom of my locker it seemed like the world shown clearer and through the rest of the day I saw more smiles, nods, and serene faces that I had ever seen before. My shell was making my school a better place by simply being it’s beautiful self, and it was causing me to glow with optimism and peace, I could feel it.
My best friend seemed to be making the school more of a disaster. First, she had waxed her entire History book together, now somehow she had managed to lock herself in her locker and was unable to tell anyone her combination because she felt it would be unwise to let anyone have her combination. Eventually maintenance had to cut the lock but in the process they jammed it in somehow so they had to cut off the hinges and then pry the door off with a tool that looked like the ‘jaws of life.’ She was pretty calm when they got her out and I ‘m not sure but I think that she had redone her make-up in there. I had to stick around until I knew she was Ok and then I had to run because my Mom was picking me up and I did not want to be too late.
My mom was parked close by and I ran to the car and immediately began to bombard her with the description of my day and all that had happened, how I found the shell and made a necklace from the shell and everyone loved the necklace and it brightened everyone’s day all by it self. After about 14 minutes of verbal barrage my mother finally replied. “What necklace.” I dipped my chin to look at my necklace and I realize that it was gone.
I sobbed. I can’t remember ever crying as hard as I did in the car that day. I knew in a high school as big as mine was it would be pointless to retrace my steps and try and find where I lost it. I knew when I made the necklace that old shoelace would not hold up for long. And I knew that it was just a shell from the beach. Yet, I felt as though I lost my spirit, like everything that was good in me was lying on the floor somewhere or probably in the garbage. As my mother can attest to, I was inconsolable.
I cried all the way home. Once I got out of the car to head in the house I had pretty much lost all hope. Not just the hope of finding my necklace but hope for anything, for the future and myself. I had blocked out all sense of loss and grief and I went back to being callous about my necklace and my hateful life in general.
I wiped my tears as I entered the house and walked up to my room cold faced and ready to study, and forgetting that anything good had happened at any point today. I opened my bag and wouldn’t you know it I forgot my History book again. I did not even flinch, I was through being sad or even angry, I walked back down and explained my predicament to my mother and I no sooner finished the story that we were back in the car going back up to school to get my book. School was important to Mom.
As I approached my locker I had to one more time choke down my tears and find my brave face in order to forget that I had lost one of the best gifts I had ever received. I opened my locker and leaned over to pick up my history book off the floor of my locker and I came face to face with that darling little seashell. The tears fell from my eyes once again. Though I did not sob or strain the tears seem to drip without any other sign of sadness they dripped as if from a leaky faucet, while I smiled with gratitude.
I grabbed my textbook clutched that shell in my hand and started back to the car. The whole way home I don’t think I said a thing, I was gripped by the thought that my shell had fallen off when I was at my locker after lunch. That meant that the rest of the day all the people that smiled and connected with me were smiling and connecting with me, while all that timeI believed that the shell had touched their hearts.
I got home and went upstairs to study for history the first thing I did was place that shell on my desk and rig it up with a new leather strap and steel clasp. As I looked at my blessing I realized that since I had first picked up off the beach I believed that I had found that shell dusted it off, shined it, and displayed it wonderfully. Really it was that shell that had found me, dusted me off, shined me up, and I shone for everyone. That shell uncovered my hope, peace, and love all that passed me by reflected those feelings. Thanks to my shell I was making my school a better place.
I went to sleep that night believing that God had sent me a helper in that shell. That helped me see that I had joy and light in me, and I needed to let it show.
I walked down the halls the next morning full of light and optimism, my History textbook in my arms, my History facts in my head and my shell around my neck. I was not trying to smile but I knew I was because everyone was smiling back. There is going to be a big piece of heaven that is just like that.
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