“The golden evenings of my Summer at the ancestral beach house initiated their too-hasty retreat into the past. And soon enough, we had but two weeks left. Still, though, faced with the imminent return to our studies, my cousins and I found ourselves growing bored with our freedom.

“One afternoon after lunch, however, we found a curiously shaped shell while my cousin Tabitha was carelessly kicking her feet in the sand. Something about it caught our attention and we began speculating as to its origins. Little Geoffrey incorrectly identified it as “coral,” but the name took.

“In the course of our whimsical speculations, it was determined that the shell must have possessed some magical properties. Soon, we found ourselves concocting some loose rules and assuming roles for a new game.”

*
While he continued his story, the candles on their table shed their wax and the other patrons of the restaurant left and took with them their contribution to the warm evening ambience. While he detailed the rules of his impromptu childhood game, their waiter made several visits to the table, but was always shooed away with a flick of hand, unwilling to let his tale be interrupted.

*
“At last, the rules were finally codified for maximal enjoyment for each one of us. The rules were complex and challenging but elegant and fair. It was a tremendous amount of fun, and we all agreed that it was the highlight of our Summer. Indeed, we played our Coralball until the sun began to set and our grandmother summoned us home. All smiles and laughter, we vowed to resume the game after breakfast the next day.

“Yet when we congregated at the beach the next morning, the magic of the game had The exhilarating feeling of invention and adventurous spirit of discovery had been drained from our dear Coralball, leaving us with an overwrought set of rules that was as dry and boring as the shell we had once celebrated so. We lied to ourselves for a few hours, pretending to enjoy what we believed we should, but ultimately could not–“

“Okay, I get it! Fine,” she snapped, picking up her purse, “you don’t want to see me anymore. Whatever. Fuck you.” She stormed out of the restaurant.

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About John D. Moore

Writer, cartoonist, filmmaker, and student of Japanese language, literature, and cinema at the University of Utah.

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