Eliza was a beachcomber - not that she made a living out of it or anything (nor was she like that weird old man who lived in half a wrecked boat at the shore). She would walk along the sand as the tide went out and pick up the jetsam that was stranded there, imagining how it had been lost.
She never picked up pebbles or a sea shell. She was only interested in the abandoned, manufactured items. She would take her finds back to her tiny flat in the middle of town and arrange them on ledges and bookcases and shelves around the walls. Then she would sit and look happily at her treasures, while she talked to the spirits of their previous owners.
When the building collapsed, the inquest jury agreed that the structure was never intended to hold such a weight of junk and the old woman’s eccentricity had contributed to her death. Her neighbours agreed it was an outrage that no one had done anything about it before.
The old man watched from his half-boat as the merpeople returned to the sea with their recovered possessions, then he headed up to the church on the cliff where he was the only mourner at Eliza’s funeral.
Copyright ©2011 MorningAJ. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.
This story was originally published on the Jobbing Writer site on June 15, 2011.
If you like this story, check out these other Morning AJ stories, published on this site: Disguise, Earwig, Falling star and Helen's dilemma.
MorningAJ is a professional (science PR) writer/rebel who fends off the
restrictions of her paid-for work by creating short stories, poems and
microfiction in her spare time. She’s even managed a novel, thanks to
NaNoWriMo, and is currently working on her second.
She also paints watercolours.