(Note: This flash fiction is inspired by Jen Kuhn. She gave me the first line. Thanks, Jen!)
3. Beach House
There used to be a cup filled with seashells sitting in that exact spot.
There, right there. On top of the dresser. Yes.
You cast glances to the left and to the right. Twist your neck to scan the room. For a decade you've been coming every summer to stay here, as unchanging as a gentle tide, and the cup's always been there and now it's gone.
You'd collected the shells. With him. Only a few each year. Only the brightest, the most vivid, the most brilliantly colored. Hand-in-hand, you'd skirt the the ocean. Walk slowly. Stop. Watch. Your head on his shoulder. Sun dipping into night. Return to the house.
In the summers after the accident you'd only kept the beat-up ones. The shells with chips or deformities. Missing an entire section. Dark or uncolored.
Can't stop a tradition just because your first child died.
The two of you kept the beach house after the marriage ended. He had June. You had July. August was a hodgepodge of the rest of the family, other visitors. Some August days would overlap. You'd seem him.
You slide your palm over where the cup used to be. You're surprised at the dust. You pull out your phone to text him. Outside, a firework pops, prematurely.
"Thank you." Click send.