The shells fell like rain throughout the night. We huddled together in the deepest corner of our mud-coated hut and listened to fragments hit the tin roof. With the rising of the sun silence fell. At first we refused to move from the place of our perceived protection, we waited until the sun was firmly in place before we even chanced speech.
I nudged Mattie who still pushed herself tightly again my side. “I think it’s over,” I whispered into her ear. I brushed her cheek with my lips as I spoke, she smelled of flowers alien to this battered place of refuge.
“Wait, just a little longer,” I could hear the tremble in her voice as she spoke the short sentence. She was afraid of what we might see.
“We should hurry, they might come back,” I just wanted to get away from this place of so much death.
“They won’t be back, not before nightfall, that’s their way, always at night. They break into your sleep; they steal your rest, and then move on to destroy someone else’s night,” her voice gained strength as she convinced herself. I knew what she said was true – they always came in the darkness. We huddled together until we both slept. I don’t know how long we lay there, in each other’s arms, but when we awoke the tin roof was radiating the heat of the day and we were covered with sweat.
“We must go now,” I said still in a whisper, while gently pushing on her shoulder.
“We must,” she said, fully awake and in full voice, there was no one to over hear our conversation now. We walked, hand in hand across the dark, one room, dirt floored hut. I pushed the flap that served as a door aside and we peered together out at the mid day world. The devastation was greater than I had imagined. The ground was completely covered with shells, Bonnet, Cockle, Scallop, Urchin, Conch, Whelk, Clam and Abalone. They crunched beneath our boots as we walked toward the shelled dirt road, jagged edges of the larger shells challenging our soles. The smell of decaying sea life overwhelmed us.