the importance of oceans and beaches

two seashells sat on the beach.

one white and conical, the other splayed open and rough silver.

the white and conical shell, empty of organism, leaned over and asked the other: fred, we’ve been around the world, not together but sort of in tandem, almost parallel, why do you think, of all places, we are here right now?

fred, ever philosophical and also empty of organism, responded: maybe it was the plan of the fates, our stories dictated by those with puppet strings looped around their godly fingers. or maybe, fred said, our reunion is a product of coincidence and nothing else — what is and must be and surely won’t remain forever.

or maybe, fred waxed on, maybe where we sit right now is just one grain on a sandy beach of infinite realities.

the other shell persisted: but why are we in this reality and not any other?

and fred, condescending slightly, replied: philly phil, we are, most likely, in many, many of the others and likewise there are surely even more where we are not — arenas of laws and physics where our existence could never be.

philip, slightly stoned by a half-smoked spliff extinguished in his shell by a beachgoer who had seen a beach cop on the horizon, in turn said: but why, why am i here talking to you and not anywhere else? i don’t get it.

fred, numbed by millennia of unexplained intellect, responded: why, i must ask, do you dwell on that question when there are far more exciting questions to explore?

philip, feeling a sensation very similar to hunger (maybe the “munchies”), asked: what sort of questions do you mean?

for one, instead of ‘why are we here talking,’ how about: what could us talking possibly evolve into? how can we, here together regardless of cause, approach and explore other areas of existence through the miracle of dialogue and conversation?

philip, tipsy from spilled drops of coronas held fumbly by sunburnt weekenders, latched onto this new thread and returned with excitement: or, what could we, lying here immobile, create between the two of us? what could we make with this strange power of communication and complex thought for the world that it has never before seen?

fred, jaded from thousands of years of improbable sentience, replied: precisely nothing, dear phil. what can be has been and what will be is unavoidable. we are, to paraphrase an old drunk oyster that used to call me home, we are but lost socks in a strange apartment building’s laundry room; we are burning embers of coal on which confused gods test their faith and calloused feet; we are but red skittles discarded by coked-out rockstars searching for the sweet and sublime.

philip, now confused and very much in need of a slice of pizza, responded, pleadingly: but, as shells, we are habitats. we have a purpose and place in this world. people, smart scientists, draw diagrams and flowcharts and we are depicted within them — we are important and without us things fall apart.

fred, very high off the fumes of a pace of life that had accelerated exponentially as he breezed past life cycles of trees and civilizations, said, quite dryly: you are confused and sad, my friend. we are replaceable. ever replaceable like thrift store art and illusions of love.

philip, the acid slowly wearing off, his skin returning, his eyes blinking, saw in the distance his keys and cell phone and his half-eaten salami sandwich strewn about. saw curious seagulls picking apart his belongings. philip then looked up at his friend fred and said: are you still feeling this stuff?

fred, still a seashell, replied with silence and a slow tumble toward the cold atlantic ocean.

philip then lit a cigarette and smoked it very slowly, patiently waiting for his friend and roommate to come back down and drive them home where they each had single-serving dinners sitting cold in their frostbitten freezer.