26th April

Jack and the Shell

Jack was walking by the sea. The sea was a marvel to him. He thought of the strange creatures that lived in it. What was it like to be a flounder or a jellyfish, or one of the things that had lived in the shells he collected from the beach?

On the road home, he stopped to take one of these shells from his pocket for another look. It was shaped like a swirl of ice cream without its cone. He put it to his ear and heard the sea. How had the snail, or whatever it was, lived in such a narrow space? He put his eye to the open end, squinting at the inner spiral. He pressed his eye hard into the shell.

There was a nasty popping sound, and Jack suddenly found that his whole head was inside the shell. The sea was very loud. He tried to pull his head out, but the shell was too tight. Weel, he thought, if I canna gang back I’ll hae tae gang on. So he squeezed his shoulders in, and his arms, and then, gripping hard with both hands, managed to pull his legs in too.

Noo I’ll turn roond and get oot, he thought. But he couldn’t turn. He was completely stuck. The constant roar of the sea was deafening.

‘Help!’ Jack shouted. ‘Help!’

A passing gull, hearing his cry, said to itself, There’s a shell wi somethin alive in it. It flew down, picked up the shell and dropped it from a great height. The shell smashed on the road, and Jack burst out, the same size as ever – far too big for a gull to eat. The bird flew off, but not before leaving a long yellow streak down Jack’s back as a mark of its disappointment.

‘Och, Jack,’ his mother said when he arrived home. ‘Look at yer jersey! Aw covered in shite.’

‘But it’s lucky when a bird does that, Mither,’ Jack said.

‘It’s no lucky for me that has tae wash it,’ she said. ‘Gie it ower, ye daft gowk.’

But Jack knew how lucky he’d been. It’s not every day you narrowly miss being a seagull’s dinner.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Guitar: Sorren Maclean
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