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The Chest

The adventure began.

She closed her eyes and all she could hear was the crashing of the waves against the shore. Nothing else mattered. With each wave she drew in a breath and exhaled as the next came crashing to. Keeping her eyes closed and her breathing rhythmic with the sea, she began to let her mind wander. She was a dreamer. She wanted to feel as powerful as the ocean before her, but found herself often the opposite. She felt insignificant in the presence of the sea. Maybe that's why she was so in love with it. Something so magnificent and magical kept her in a trance. It was truly mesmerizing for her. The ocean keeps her humble, bringing her piece of mind that the real world problems she faced, would eventually work themselves out.

As she opens her eyes, the sun momentarily blinds her so she returns her sunglasses to protect her line of sight. Seagulls fly above, effortlessly soaring and enjoying their view. She wonders what it would be like to be free to fly wherever her heart desires. How different life would be for her.

She decides to stand and take a short walk. She chooses to dabble in the water and lets the warm water flow over her feet. She can't help but pick up the seashells embedded in the white sand as she walks. Every seashell has a story, she thinks. Each one has taken its own journey; has been damaged and carved by the magnificent Mother Nature. She could only imagine where each one had been, and what some may or may not have seen through its existence. Some were whole, perfect in shape and sized proportionately. Others were cracked, scarred and chipped to give it a unique characteristic. All she knew was that she loved them. Her heart felt full when handling each one and she felt like she belonged to them in a sense too.

She closed her eyes and all she could hear was the crashing of the waves against the shore. Nothing else mattered. With each wave she drew in a breath and exhaled as the next came crashing to. Keeping her eyes closed and her breathing rhythmic with the sea, she began to let her mind wander. She was a dreamer. She wanted to feel as powerful as the ocean before her, but found herself often the opposite. She felt insignificant in the presence of the sea. Maybe that's why she was so in love with it. How was is something so magnificent and magical could keep her in a such a deep trance? It was truly mesmerizing for her. The ocean keeps her humble, bringing her piece of mind that the real world problems she faced, would eventually work themselves out.

As she opens her eyes, the sun momentarily blinds her so she returns her sunglasses to protect her line of sight. Seagulls fly above, effortlessly soaring, enjoying their view. She wonders what it would be like to be free to fly wherever her heart desires. How different life would be for her.

She decides to take a short walk. She chooses to dabble in the water and lets the warmth flow over her feet. She can't help but pick up the seashells embedded in the white sand as she walks. Every seashell has a story, she thinks. Each one has taken its own journey; has been damaged and carved by the magnificent Mother Nature. She could only imagine where each one had been, what some may or may not have seen through its existence. Some were whole, perfect in shape and sized proportionately. Others were cracked, scarred and chipped to give it its unique characteristic. All she knew was that she loved them. Her heart felt full when handling each one, she felt like she belonged to them in a sense too.

She focused on walking the shoreline. The curves of the waves reaching farther out in some places, cleaning up the seashells already washed ashore to bring their beauty to light. She smiled to herself. It was pure bliss here, her heart and soul were truly happy. But she knew that her trip for the day was coming to a near end and she would have to go back and face reality.

Madeline was all too familiar with reality in recent days. Her mother's funeral was a little over two weeks ago. She felt her eyes swell up as the thought of her mother and their favorite shared love of the beach. She bit her lip as she tried to control the overwhelming sadness creeping into her thoughts.

"This is my happy place," she whispers to herself. "I wish you were here, Momma."

As Madi dried the single tear from her sunburned cheeks, she found a small log that had drifted and planted itself perfectly in the sand. She settles down to take a rest after reapplying her sunscreen. She has learned to reapply several times throughout the day since moving here. She returns the sunscreen back into her bright pink beach bag; one her mother had picked out for her last spring. She smiled at the thought. Her mother had always protected her. The bag was full of all sorts of "beach proof" items. A fitted sheet, several bottles of sunscreen and after-sun lotions, a bottle opener, a beach towel, one of her favorite books, and a notebook for her to write in.

Her mother always knew she had a love for reading and writing. Madi didn't keep all of the items in the bag, though. She ditched the sheet. She was never afraid to just sit on the sand. She did keep the beach towel, and bottle opener for when she decided she needed a couple of brews while relaxing. The book she had read then left at home on her bookshelf, but the notebook she always carried with her. She would jot notes of how she was feeling. She had even mustered up a couple of poems. Oh how she wished she would have shared those with her mother before she passed.

Madi closed her eyes to avoid the sting of more tears. She let herself hear the ocean again; relaxing her breathing to match that of the waves again. This was her serenity.

As she opened her eyes, she spotted something sticking up out of the sand, just at the ocean's edge. She could never see anything at any distance without her glasses, but unfortunately sunglasses were more important for today's forecast.

Walking to the spotted treasure, Madi couldn't help but feel a tinge of excitement jolt throughout her. She was a dreamer, after all, and loved finding things unique at the beach. She leant down to pick it up.

Her fingers brushed the sand gently away from the surface. The colors were beautiful. Pinks and teals, mixed with beige and white. The seashells were all together on the surface. As she continued to brush the sand away, she realized that this was some sort of sealed container. The seashells made up the exterior. Madi was overwhelmed with delight and curiosity.

Although colorful, the seashells had been worn down. She could tell that the gashes throughout them had no doubt been from an incredibly long journey. She dug the sand around the seashells to expose the sides and realized that it was made of a very delicate wood under the shells. Taking her time, here she had plenty, Madi completely revealed a perfect chest made of wood and seashells. It was quite small. Similar to that of a small jewelry or trinket box. She had plenty of room to put it in her bag.

She glanced up and down the beach line. There was no one in sight. It was a weekday after all. Typically weekdays were quiet. Less people on the beach. It was her favorite time to come. She couldn't believe that someone would forget such a beautiful and unique item. But she didn't want to take something that didn't belong to her. What if someone returns to try to find it? She glances back and forth again, shielding her eyes and squinting to try to find someone, anyone who may know who the rightful owner may be.

She waits. Finally, Madi decides that taking it is better than leaving here for the waves to simply carry it off to sea. So before she had any more doubts, she swooped up the curious item and carefully wrapped it in her beach towel and placed it in her bag.

She thought to herself, 'I'll take it home and hold onto it for now. I'll try to find the rightful owner.' She always wanted to do the right thing.

The sun is starting to set so Madi decides it is time to head back. She gathers her things and takes one last long admiring look at the ocean before her. She breaths in. And exhales. And with that she turns her back on the waves and makes the short journey to her car. She can't help but wonder, "What could possibly be inside of the little chest I found today??"

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